In the paper we discuss current state of the art in the field of tapered fiber development. The best results in term of high peak and high average power achieved with this type of fibers are presented together with requirements to the tapered fiber amplifier design. The report is mainly focused on tapered fiber amplifiers operated near 1 μm (Yb-doped tapered fibers), but also extension of this technique to 1.55 μm spectral range is discussed.
The stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS) is the main power limiting factor in the high-power narrow-line fiber laser circuits. A good way to increase the SBS power-threshold is to reduce its coherent gain, which is directly connected with the width of the Brillouin gain spectrum (BGS). The Brillouin gain peak and the phonons life-time are inversely proportional to the full-width-at-half-maximum of the BGS. The fine structure of the BGS and its ranges are sufficiently affected by parameters of the acoustic waveguide of the fiber. We propose a novel approach for increasing the BGS width and lowering its maximum (related directly to the SBS threshold) for a given optical refractive index profile. The aim of the approach is to maximize both the number and spectral spread of guided acoustic modes, as well as equate the acousto-optic interaction coefficients (acousto-optical overlap integrals) for the maximum possible number of these modes. This is due to the fact that an increase in the number of acoustic modes effectively contributing to the BGS, while preserving the distribution of the optical mode intensity, causes the scattered Stokes optical power to be redistributed accordingly between the corresponding number of Brillouin spectral lines, providing proportional damping of the Brillouin gain. Such an acoustically multimode SBS suppression can be achieved by tailoring a proper radial acoustic refractive index profile which can be fabricated by co-doping of silica with phosphorous oxide and fluorine.
Highly doped with ytterbium (up to 20 wt% of Yb2O3) Er-Yb aliminosilicate glass core fibers have been fabricated and thoroughly investigated. It has been discovered that in a particular condition the lasing properties of both Yb and Er ions can be nearly completely suppressed. Due to a very high Yb ions absorption in the 900-1000 nm range (~ 3000 dB/m at 915 nm) all together with low background losses the developed glass matrix is very promising for such applications as pump isolation in fiber lasers as well as spectral and mode filtering using highly absorbing glass dopants.
Novel configuration of combined Er/Er-Yb fiber amplifier is proposed to join advantages of both approaches (high gain and high efficiency). Co-propagating pump at 976 nm and signal at 1556 nm were coupled into a short piece of Er-doped fiber, where signal was amplified to a few Watts level. Then signal together with unabsorbed pump passed to LMA Er- Yb fiber. In this configuration, 2 ns pulses were amplified to 20 W of average power and 37 kW of peak power (limited by four-wave mixing). Differential efficiency reaches 37%, which is a record for fiber lasers with this peak power level.
Single-mode Er-Yb fibers based on phosphorosilicate glass matrix highly doped with fluorine have been fabricated using modified all-gas phase MCVD technology. Fibers have core doped by 6.5 mol.% of P2O5, 0.9 wt.% of F and different concentration of Er and Yb. The core NA was about 0.07-0.08 relative to the pure silica level. Slope efficiency of more than 19% was achieved using amplifier scheme with co-propagating pump at 976 nm and signal at 1555 nm (input signal power was about 0.6W). Slope efficiency in the laser configuration has reached 34% relative to the input pump power.
An all-fiber pulsed erbium laser with pulse width of 2.4 ns working in a MOPA configuration has been created. Cladding pumped double clad erbium doped large mode area fiber was used in the final stage amplifier. Peculiarity of the current work is utilization of custom-made multimode diode wavelength stabilized at 981±0.5 nm – wavelength of maximum absorption by Er ions. It allowed us to shorten Er-doped fiber down to 1.7 m and keep a reasonably high pump-to signal conversion efficiency of 8.4%. The record output peak power for all-fiber amplifiers of 84 kW was achieved within 1555.9±0.15 nm spectral range.
Simple method to increase stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS) threshold in MCVD fiber based on design with few concentric layers having different compound has been proposed. Two sets of fibers with core consisting of three layers with different alumina and germania concentrations have been fabricated. First set of fibers was designed for Raman amplifiers and had a relatively small mode field area of 23-28 μm2. The second set of fibers was designed for high peak power pulse delivery and had mode area of 225-325 μm2. SBS suppression (as compared to the Ge-doped fibers) was estimated from SBS gain spectra and direct observation of SBS threshold to be more than 6 dB and 3.3 dB for the first and the second set of fibers.