Erbium-doped fiber lasers are attractive for directed energy weapons applications because they operate in a wavelength region that is both eye-safer and a window of high atmospheric transmission. For these applications a clad-pumped design is desirable, but the Er absorption must be high because of the areal dilution of the doped core vs. the pump cladding. High Er concentrations typically lead to Er ion clustering, resulting in quenching and upconversion. Nanoparticle (NP) doping of the core overcomes these problems by physically surrounding the Er ions with a cage of Al and O in the NP, which keeps them separated to minimize excited state energy transfer. A significant issue is obtaining high Er concentrations without the NP agglomeration that degrades the optical properties of the fiber core. We have developed the process for synthesizing stable Er-NP suspension which have been used to fabricate EDFs with Er concentrations >90 dB/m at 1532 nm. Matched clad fibers have been evaluated in a core-pumped MOPA with pump and signal wavelengths of 1475 and 1560 nm, respectively, and efficiencies of ~72% with respect to absorbed pump have been obtained. We have fabricated both NP- and solution-doped double clad fibers, which have been measured in a clad-pumped laser testbed using a 1532 nm pump. The 1595 nm laser efficiency of the NP-doped fiber was 47.7%, which is high enough for what is believed to be the first laser experiment with the cladding pumped, NP-doped fiber. Further improvements are likely with a shaped cladding and new low-index polymer coatings with lower absorption in the 1500 – 1600 nm range.
Colin C. Baker, E. Joseph Friebele, Daniel L. Rhonehouse, Barbara A. Marcheschi, John R. Peele, Woohong Kim, Jasbinder S. Sanghera, Jun Zhang, Youming Chen, Radha K. Pattnaik, and Mark Dubinskii, "Clad-pumped Er-nanoparticle-doped fiber laser (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10083, Fiber Lasers XIV: Technology and Systems, 100831P (Presented at SPIE LASE: February 02, 2017; Published: 21 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256594.5383482386001.
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