Kilowatt-class fiber lasers and amplifiers are becoming increasingly important building blocks for power-scaling laser systems in various architectures for directed energy applications. Currently, state-of-the-art Yb-doped fiber lasers operating near 1060 nm operate with optical-to-optical power-conversion efficiency of about 66%. State-of-the-art fiber-coupled pump diodes near 975 nm operate with about 50% electrical-to-fiber-coupled optical power conversion efficiency at 25C heatsink temperature. Therefore, the total system electrical-to-optical power conversion efficiency is about 33%. As a result, a 50-kW fiber laser will generate 75 kW of heat at the pump module and 25 kW at the fiber laser module with a total waste heat of 100 kW. It is evident that three times as much waste heat is generated at the pump module. While improving the efficiency of the diodes primarily reduces the input power requirement, increasing the operating temperature primarily reduces the size and weight for thermal management systems. We will discuss improvement in diode laser design, thermal resistance of the package as well as improvement in fiber-coupled optical-to-optical efficiency to achieve high efficiency at higher operating temperature. These factors have a far-reaching implication in terms of significantly improving the overall SWAP requirements thus enabling DEW-class fiber lasers on airborne and other platforms.
Manoj Kanskar, Ling Bao, Zhigang Chen, Mark DeVito, Mike Grimshaw, Xinguo Guan, Marty Hemenway, Rob Martinsen, Wolfram Urbanek, Jim Zhang, and Shiguo Zhang, "High-temperature diode laser pumps for low SWaP directed energy lasers (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10637, Laser Technology for Defense and Security XIV, 106370D (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 17, 2018; Published: 14 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2305010.5783270579001.
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