Contaminants can severely limit the efficiency, laser damage threshold, and strength of photonic crystal fiber-based lasers. Such contamination can occur due to environmental exposure during the pulling or stacking of rods and tubes or improper handling and storage of these glass components. A preform made by the “stack and draw” process is susceptible to incorporating surface contaminants into the bulk laser glass.
We have adapted cleaning and handling protocols originally developed for processing large fused silica optics for the National Ignition Facility. The etch cleaning process reported here mimics the “AMP” or “Advanced Mitigation Process” developed for NIF optics that see high fluence 351nm light. In addition, all cleaning, fixturing and assembly processes used to prep a stack for pulling into a fiber are done in a Class 100 cleanroom. Glass rods (1-3mm in diameter and 10” long) are assembled into a Teflon fixture that only contacts the rods at each end. The loaded fixture receives 120kHz ultrasonic cleaning in 10% sodium hydroxide at 45C and 3% Brulin 1696 detergent at 55C. Parts are thoroughly rinsed using ultrasonicated ultrapure water and spray rinses. A 200nm etch in buffered hydrofluoric acid (6:1 BOE diluted 2:1 in DI water) is followed by additional ultasonicated (120kHz-270kHz) ultrapure water and spray rinse. Finally, the components are allowed to fully dry inside the Teflon frame. The rods are cleaned, stacked, and assembled into a fused silica tube.
The preform stack is then returned to a non-cleanroom area to be pulled into fiber using standard telecom fiber-based draw tower equipment and without clean air filters around the draw area. Four fibers were made to test independently the damage threshold and the background loss, two Yb core active fibers and two silica core (F clad) fibers. One of each was cleaned with the AMP process, and one of each with a methanol wipe cleaning process. The active fiber was coated with a dual acrylate coating, first with a low-index inner coating to provide a pump cladding, and then with a relatively hard coating to protect the relatively soft primary coating. The active fibers were pumped at 980nm in a double Fresnel cavity configuration and the power increased until the fiber was damaged up to 1kW. The passive fiber background loss was measured using a standard cut-back technique. Replacing the former methanol wipe clean process with this aqueous cleaning process improved the 1060nm damage threshold of a fiber laser by >30x to above the kW level in the laboratory and reduced the background attenuation by >18x. Early indications are that the acid etching also makes the tensile strength of the fiber consistently high.
This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.
We present 10W single-mode fiber laser based on Nd<sup>+3</sup> fiber operating at 1428nm. All-solid fused silica microstructured waveguide fiber design is employed to suppress amplification at 1μm. The Nd<sup>+3</sup> fiber is pumped by commercial multi-mode 880nm diode.
Power scaling using a higher order mode in a ribbon fiber has previously been proposed. However, methods of selecting the higher order mode and converting to a single lobe high brightness beam are needed. We propose using a multiplexed transmitting Bragg grating (MTBG) to convert a higher order mode into a single lobe beam. Using a ribbon fiber with core dimensions of 107.8 μm by 8.3 μm, we use the MTBG to select a higher order mode oscillating within the resonator with 51.4% efficiency, while simultaneously converting the higher order mode to a beam with diffraction limited divergence of 10.2 mrad containing 60% of the total power.
Increasing the dimensions of a waveguide provides the simplest means of reducing detrimental nonlinear effects, but such systems are inherently multi-mode, reducing the brightness of the system. Furthermore, using rectangular dimensions allows for improved heat extraction, as well as uniform temperature profile within the core. We propose a method of using the angular acceptance of a transmitting Bragg grating (TBG) to filter the fundamental mode of a fiber laser resonator, and as a means to increase the brightness of multi-mode fiber laser. Numerical modeling is used to calculate the diffraction losses needed to suppress the higher order modes in a laser system with saturable gain. The model is tested by constructing an external cavity resonator using an ytterbium doped ribbon fiber with core dimensions of 107.8μm by 8.3μm as the active medium. We show that the TBG increases the beam quality of the system from M<sup>2</sup> = 11.3 to M<sup>2</sup> = 1.45, while reducing the slope efficiency from 76% to 53%, overall increasing the brightness by 5.1 times.
Power scaling of high power laser resonators is limited due to several nonlinear effects. Scaling to larger mode areas can offset these effects at the cost of decreased beam quality, limiting the brightness that can be achieved from the multi-mode system. In order to improve the brightness from such multi-mode systems, we present a method of transverse mode selection utilizing volume Bragg gratings (VBGs) as an angular filter, allowing for high beam quality from large mode area laser resonators. An overview of transverse mode selection using VBGs is given, with theoretical models showing the effect of the angular selectivity of transmitting VBGs on the resonator modes. Applications of this ideology to the design of laser resonators, with cavity designs and experimental results presented for three types of multimode solid state lasers: a Nd:YVO4 laser with 1 cm cavity length and 0.8 mm diameter beam with an M<sup>2</sup> of 1.1, a multimode diode with diffraction limited far field divergence in the slow axis, and a ribbon fiber laser with 13 cores showing M<sup>2</sup> improved from 11.3 to 1.5.
Diffraction-limited high power lasers in the region of 10s of kW to greater than 100 kW are needed for defense, manufacturing and future science applications. A balance of thermal lensing and Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) for narrowband amplifiers and Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) for broadband amplifiers is likely to limit the average power of circular core fiber amplifiers to 2 kW (narrowband) or 36 kW (broadband). A ribbon fiber, which has a rectangular core, operating in a high order mode can overcome these obstacles by increasing mode area without becoming thermal lens limited and without the on-axis intensity peak associated with circular high order modes. High order ribbon fiber modes can also be converted to a fundamental Gaussian mode with high efficiency for applications in which this is necessary. We present an Yb-doped, air clad, optical fiber having an elongated, ribbon-like core having an effective mode area of area of 600 μm² and an aspect ratio of 13:1. As an amplifier, the fiber produced 50% slope efficiency and a seed-limited power of 10.5 W, a gain of 24 dB. As an oscillator, the fiber produced multimode power above 40 W with 71% slope efficiency and single mode power above 5 W with 44% slope efficiency. The multimode M2 beam quality factor of the fiber was 1.6 in the narrow dimension and 15 in the wide dimension.
Diffraction limited fiber amplifiers in a circular geometry are likely to be limited by nonlinearities to 2 kW for narrowband and 10-36 kW for broadband lasers. We have proposed a ribbon fiber geometry to allow scaling fiber lasers above these limits in which a high order ribbon mode is amplified and converted back to the fundamental mode in free space. Novel methods of illuminating a high order ribbon fiber mode are discussed and compared with modeling and experimental results showing high purity illumination, > 90%. A 10 kW single frequency ribbon fiber amplifier design is presented and BPM simulation results verify the approach.
JWST optical component in-process optical testing and cryogenic requirement compliance certification, verification &
validation is probably the most difficult metrology job of our generation in astronomical optics. But, the challenge has
been met: by the hard work of dozens of optical metrologists; the development and qualification of multiple custom test
setups; and several new inventions, including 4D PhaseCam and Leica Absolute Distance Meter. This paper summarizes
the metrology tools, test setups and processes used to characterize the JWST optical components.
A developed formalism<sup>1</sup> for analyzing the power scaling of diffraction limited fiber lasers and amplifiers is applied to a
wider range of materials. Limits considered include thermal rupture, thermal lensing, melting of the core, stimulated
Raman scattering, stimulated Brillouin scattering, optical damage, bend induced limits on core diameter and limits to
coupling of pump diode light into the fiber. For conventional fiber lasers based upon silica, the single aperture,
diffraction limited power limit was found to be 36.6kW. This is a hard upper limit that results from an interaction of the
stimulated Raman scattering with thermal lensing. This result is dependent only upon physical constants of the material
and is independent of the core diameter or fiber length. Other materials will have different results both in terms of
ultimate power out and which of the many limits is the determining factor in the results. Materials considered include
silica doped with Tm and Er, YAG and YAG based ceramics and Yb doped phosphate glass. Pros and cons of the
various materials and their current state of development will be assessed. In particular the impact of excess background
loss on laser efficiency is discussed.
We have tested a series of Ytterbium doped large core fibers operating near 10Kpps and producing pulses of approximately 1ns. We have achieved 0.85mJ/pulse resulting in peak powers in excess of 2MW with 0.4ns pulses and near diffraction limited beams. In another fiber, we have achieved over 1.5mJ/pulse with pulses of 900ps corresponding to 1.65MW of peak power and M<sup>2</sup> of 2.5. In the latter case, wall-plug efficiencies, excluding cooling of the pump diode lasers, in excess of 15% were also achieved. This fiber amplifier has operated for 2 months without any degradation or observed optical damage.
We are developing an all fiber laser system optimized for providing input pulses for short pulse (1-10ps), high energy (~1kJ) glass laser systems. Fiber lasers are ideal solutions for these systems as they are highly reliable and enable long term stable operation. The design requirements for this application are very different than those commonly seen in fiber lasers. High-energy lasers often have low repetition rates (as low as one pulse every few hours), and thus high average power and efficiency are of little practical value. What is of high value is pulse energy, high signal to noise ratio (expressed as pre-pulse contrast), good beam quality, consistent output parameters and timing. Our system focuses on optimizing these
parameters. Our prototype system consists of a mode-locked fiber laser, a compressed pulse fiber amplifier, a "pulse cleaner", a chirped fiber Bragg grating, pulse selectors, a transport fiber system and a large mode area fiber amplifier. We will review the system and present theoretical and experimental studies of critical aspects, in particular the requirement for high pre-pulse contrast.
We have demonstrated 3.5W of 589nm light from a fiber laser using periodically poled stoichio-metric Lithium Tantalate (PPSLT) as the frequency conversion crystal. The system employs 938nm and 1583nm fiber lasers, which were sum-frequency mixed in PPSLT to generate 589nm light. The 938nm fiber laser consists of a single frequency diode laser master oscillator (200mW), which was amplified in two
stages to >15W using cladding pumped Nd<sup>3+</sup> fiber amplifiers. The fiber amplifiers operate at 938nm and minimize amplified spontaneous emission at 1088nm by employing a specialty fiber design, which maximizes the core size relative to the cladding diameter. This design allows the 3-level laser system to operate at high inversion, thus making it competitive with the 1088nm 4-level laser transition. At 15W, the 938nm laser has an M<sup>2</sup> of 1.1 and good polarization (correctable with a quarter and half wave plate to >15:1). The 1583nm fiber laser consists of a Koheras 1583nm fiber DFB laser that is pre-amplified to 100mW, phase modulated and then amplified to 14W in a commercial IPG fiber amplifier. As a part of our research efforts we are also investigating pulsed laser formats and power scaling of the 589nm system. We will discuss the fiber laser design and operation as well as our results in power scaling at 589nm.
We are developing an all fiber laser system optimized for providing input pulses for short pulse (1-10ps), high energy (~1kJ) glass laser systems. Fiber lasers are ideal solutions for these systems as they are highly reliable and once constructed they can be operated with ease. Furthermore, they offer an additional benefit of significantly reduced footprint. In most labs containing equivalent bulk laser systems, the system occupies two 4’x8’ tables and would consist of 10's if not a 100 of optics which would need to be individually aligned and maintained. The design requirements for this application are very different those commonly seen in fiber lasers. High energy lasers often have low repetition rates (as low as one pulse every few hours) and thus high average power and efficiency are of little practical value. What is of high value is pulse energy, high signal to noise ratio (expressed as pre-pulse contrast), good beam quality, consistent output parameters and timing. Our system focuses on maximizing these parameters sometimes at the expense of efficient operation or average power. Our prototype system consists of a mode-locked fiber laser, a compressed pulse fiber amplifier, a “pulse cleaner”, a chirped fiber Bragg grating, pulse selectors, a transport fiber system and a large flattened mode fiber amplifier. In our talk we will review the system in detail and present theoretical and experimental studies of critical components. We will also present experimental results from the integrated system.