16 March 2016 Mid-IR laser source using hollow waveguide beam combining
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Abstract
Hollow waveguide technology is a route to efficient beam combining of multiple laser sources in a compact footprint. It is a technology appropriate for combining free-space or fibre-coupled beams generated by semiconductor, fibre or solidstate laser sources. This paper will present results of a breadboard mid-IR system comprising four laser sources combined using a hollow waveguide optical circuit. In this approach the individual dichroic beam combiner components are held in precision alignment slots in the hollow waveguide circuit and the different input wavelengths are guided between the components to a common output port. The hollow waveguide circuit is formed in the surface of a Macor (machinable glass-ceramic) substrate using precision CNC machining techniques. The hollow waveguides have fundamentally different propagation characteristics to solid core waveguides leading to transmission characteristics close to those of the atmosphere while still providing useful light guidance properties. The transmission efficiency and power handling of the hollow waveguide circuit can be designed to be very high across a broad waveband range. Three of the sources are quantum cascade lasers (QCLs), a semiconductor laser technology providing direct generation of midwave IR output. The combined beams provide 4.2 W of near diffraction-limited output co-boresighted to better than 20 µrad. High coupling efficiency into the waveguides is demonstrated, with negligible waveguide transmission losses. The overall transmission of the hollow waveguide beam combining optical circuit, weighted by the laser power at each wavelength, is 93%. This loss is dominated by the performance of the dichroic optics used to combine the beams.
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Ian F. Elder, Daniel H. Thorne, Robert A. Lamb, and R. Mike Jenkins "Mid-IR laser source using hollow waveguide beam combining", Proc. SPIE 9726, Solid State Lasers XXV: Technology and Devices, 972601 (16 March 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2208012; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2208012
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