Delivering high peak powers from fiber lasers is limited by the accumulation of nonlinear effects due to the high optical intensities and the long interaction lengths of fibers. Peak power scaling at 2 μm is limited by modulation instability (MI), which is not found for 1 μm sources. This work investigates the performance of a spectrally broadband, nanosecond pulsed thulium-doped fiber laser. The average power and pulse energy performance of the single-mode amplifier delivers >20 W and ~280 μJ. A variable spectral filter is incorporated to study the onset of MI and subsequent spectral broadening as a function of seed linewidth. It is observed that MI-induced spectral broadening is enhanced for larger linewidths. However, when the seed linewidth is increased beyond >10 nm, this trend is reversed. A fiber amplifier model including MI (treated as degenerate four-wave mixing) simulates a parametric gain bandwidth of ~900 GHz for this amplifier configuration, which is equivalent to ~11.5 nm at the 1960 nm center wavelength. Therefore, the decrease in spectral broadening for seed linewidths <10 nm is due to a reduced overlap with the MI gain bandwidth. The capability to scale 2 μm fiber lasers to high powers is strongly dependent on the spectral quality of the seed. Any power initially located within the MI gain bandwidth will degrade performance, and must be considered for power scaling.
Alex Sincore, Justin Cook, Joshua Bradford, Nathan Bodnar, and Martin Richardson, "Experimental investigation on varying spectral bandwidth when amplifying a pulsed superfluorescent 2-μm source in Tm:fiber," Proc. SPIE 10512, Fiber Lasers XV: Technology and Systems, 105120P (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 30, 2018; Published: 26 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2290217.
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