Pump-limited kW-class operation in a multimode fiber amplifier using adaptive mode control was achieved. A photonic lantern front end was used to inject an arbitrary superposition of modes on the input to a kW-class fiber amplifier to achieve a nearly diffraction-limited output. We report on the adaptive spatial mode control architecture which allows for compensating transverse-mode disturbances at high power. We also describe the advantages of adaptive spatial mode control for optical phased array systems. In particular, we show that the additional degrees of freedom allow for broader steering and improved atmospheric turbulence compensation relative to piston-only optical phased arrays.
We demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, successful beam control of a fiber optic phased array containing a large number of polarization maintaining fibers. As many as forty-eight fibers have been coherently combined via individual all-fiber phase modulators. The residual phase error is less than 1/30th of a wave. Results with both near-field interferometric control and target-in-the-loop control have been obtained. Experimental results are compared with numerical simulations and excellent agreement has been achieved. We investigated propagation of this phased array output through a turbulent atmosphere, and used the all-fiber phase modulators for the compensation of turbulence effects on the array output. This work paves the way towards scaling such fiber optic phased arrays to very high fiber count. Eventually thousand of fibers can be controlled via such a scheme.
For some beam-control applications, we can rely on the cooperation of the target when gathering information about the target location and the state of the atmosphere between the target and the beam-control system. The typical example is a cooperative point-source beacon on the target. Light from such a beacon allows the beam-control system to track the target accurately, and, if higher-order adaptive optics is to be employed, to make wave-front measurements and apply appropriate corrections with a deformable mirror. In many applications, including directed-energy weapons, the target is not cooperative. In the absence of a cooperative beacon, we must find other ways to collect the relevant information. This can be accomplished with an active-illumination system. Typically, this means shining one or more lasers at the target and observing the reflected light. In this paper, we qualitatively explore a number of difficulties inherent to active illumination, and suggest some possible mitigation techniques.