High-power lasers, including high-peak power lasers (HPPL) and high-average power lasers (HAPL), attract much interest for enormous variety of applications in inertial fusion energy (IFE), materials processing, defense, spectroscopy, and high-field physics research. To meet the requirements of high efficiency and quality, a “gain chip” concept is proposed to properly design the pumping, cooling and lasing fields. The gain chip mainly consists of the laser diode arrays, lens duct, rectangle wave guide and slab-shaped gain media. For the pumping field, the pump light will be compressed and homogenized by the lens duct to high irradiance with total internal reflection, and further coupled into the gain media through its two edge faces. For the cooling field, the coolant travels along the flow channel created by the adjacent slabs in the other two edge-face direction, and cool the lateral faces of the gain media. For the lasing field, the laser beam travels through the lateral faces and experiences minimum thermal wavefront distortions. Thereby, these three fields are in orthogonality offering more spatial freedom to handle them during the construction of the lasers. Transverse gradient doping profiles for HPPL and HAPL have been employed to achieve uniform gain distributions (UGD) within the gain media, respectively. This UGD will improve the management for both amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) and thermal behavior. Since each “gain chip” has its own pump source, power scaling can be easily achieved by placing identical “gain chips” along the laser beam axis without disturbing the gain and thermal distributions. To detail our concept, a 1-kJ pulsed amplifier is designed and optical-to-optical efficiency up to 40% has been obtained. We believe that with proper coolant (gas or liquid) and gain media (Yb:YAG, Nd:glass or Nd:YAG) our “gain chip” concept might provide a general configuration for high-power lasers with high efficiency and quality.
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