Diffraction-limited 976nm lasers can be used to core-pump ultrafast fiber lasers to overcome nonlinearities with significantly shortened fiber lengths or to pump ultrafast solid-state lasers for much improved beam quality. In order to make Yb fiber lasers operate efficiently as a three-level system at ~976nm, it is critical to use double-clad fibers with large core-to-cladding ratio and additional spectral filters, such as dichroic mirrors in free space or fiber Bragg gratings in all-fiber configurations, to suppress lasing at longer wavelengths. Diffraction-limited 94W at 976nm was achieved in 2008 with an efficiency of ~50% with respect to the launched pump powers at ~915nm using a rod-type PCF and multiple dichroic mirrors. However, the results from flexible fibers with the potential to be used for monolithic fiber lasers are far worse. In this work, the Yb-doped double-clad all-solid photonic bandgap fiber has a core diameter of ~25μm and a cladding diameter of ~125μm. The photonic bandgap was engineered to have its long wavelength band edge just beyond 976nm to suppress lasing at longer wavelengths. We demonstrate a record efficiency of ~54% with regard to the coupled pump power at ~915nm. Pump-limited 38W at ~977nm was achieved with a M2 of ~1.24. ASE at ~1026nm was suppressed by <30dB at all powers. This is possible due to the use of all-solid photonic bandgap fibers which provide both the necessary large core-to-cladding ratio and the additional suppression of the four-level system by strong out-of-band transmission loss.
Thermally induced transverse mode instability (TMI) has been recognized as one of the major limits to average power scaling of single-mode fiber laser. Mitigating the thermal load in single-mode high-power fiber lasers by operating lasing closer to the pump wavelength is one of the effort directions. Here, we demonstrate 220w single–mode output power at 1018nm from an ytterbium-doped all-solid photonic bandgap fiber (ASPBF) pumped at 976nm. The quantum defect is only 4.1%, helping to mitigate the thermal load. The ASPBF fiber has the multiple-cladding-resonant design, leading to better higher-order modes (HOM) suppression in its ~50µm core. The large core/cladding ratio also benefits the 1018nm lasing, providing the higher cladding pump absorption so shorter fiber length is needed with better ASE suppression at longer wavelength. In addition, the use of a phosphosilicate host in this fiber also enhances ytterbium gain at 1018nm, leading to a reduction in the required inversion, further increasing efficiency. In the laser test, one end of fiber is spliced to a high-reflective fiber-Bragg-grating at 1018nm and the other end is right-angle cleaved. ~62% and ~77% lasing efficiency has been achieved around maximum power with respective to the launched and absorbed pump power. The M2 was measured at 130W as 1.06 and 1.17 with respective to the x and y axis.
Transverse mode instability (TMI) has been recognized as a major limit to average power scaling of single-mode fiber laser besides the optical nonlinear effects. One key to mitigate TMI is to suppress the higher-order modes (HOMs) propagation in the optical fiber. By implementing additional cores in the optical fiber cladding, HOMs can be resonantly coupled from the main core to the surrounding cladding cores, leading to better HOMs suppression. Here, we demonstrate an Yb-doped multiple-cladding-resonant all-solid photonic bandgap fiber with a ~60μm diameter core for high power fiber lasers. The fiber has a multiple-cladding-resonant design in order to provide better HOMs suppression. Maximum laser power of 910w is achieved for a direct diode-pumped fiber laser without TMI with a 9m long fiber at 60cm coil diameter, breaking the TMI threshold of 800w that has been observed in large-mode-area PCFs with ~40μm core. This result is limited by fiber end burning due to the un-optimized thermal management. Later experiment demonstrates maximum laser power of 1050w with 90% lasing efficiency versus absorbed pump power in a 8m long fiber coiled at 80cm diameter, limited by the pump source. However, the fiber bending condition needs to be optimized in order to produce a better laser beam quality.
Thermal management is critical for kw-level power lasers, where mode instability driven by quantum defect heating is a major challenge. Tandem pumping using 1018nm fiber lasers are used to enable both high brightness and low quantum defect. It is, however, difficult to realize efficient 1018nm YDFL. The best demonstration to date is limited by the use of both conventional aluminosilicate host and smaller core diameters. In these cases, higher inversion is required due to the aluminosilicate host and higher pump brightness is required due to the smaller core, which results in high signal brightness for the same output power. These factors lead to large pump power to exit fiber, resulting in poor efficiency. Phosphosilicate host, on the other hand, requires much lower inversions to reach the gain threshold at 1018nm. The combination of phosphosilicate host and large-core leakage channel fibers (LCF) is a perfect candidate for efficient 1018nm fiber laser. We report a highly efficient Yb-doped phosphosilicate LCF laser with a quantum defect of 4.1% using a ~50μm-core diameter and ~420μm cladding diameter. The slope efficiency with respect to the launched pump power at 1018nm is 70%. The ASE suppression is <60dB. The large cladding of 420μm demonstrates a combination of high efficiency, ~4% quantum defect and high-power low-brightness diode pumping. We have also studied the limits of operating ytterbium fiber lasers at shorter wavelengths and found the efficiency to fall off at shorter wavelengths due to the much higher inversions required.
Ytterbium-doped large mode area all-solid photonic bandgap fiber amplifiers were used to demonstrate <400 W of
output power at 1064 nm. In an initial set of experiments, a fiber with a core diameter of ~50 μm, and a calculated
effective area of 1450 μm2 in a straight fiber, was used to generate approximately 600 W. In this case, the input
seed was modulated using a sinusoidal format at a frequency of 400 MHz. The output, however, was multimode as
the fiber design did not allow for single-mode operation at this wavelength. A second fiber was then fabricated to
operate predominantly in single mode at 1064 nm by having the seed closer to the short wavelength edge of the
bandgap. This fiber was used to demonstrate 400 W of single-frequency output with excellent beam quality. As the
signal power exceeded 450 W, there was significant degradation in the beam quality due to the modal instability.
Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge, the power scaling results obtained in this work far exceed results from
prior state of the art all-solid photonic bandgap fiber lasers.
Fiber lasers are in the process of revolutionizing modern manufacturing. Further power scaling is still much desired to increase throughput and to break new frontiers in science and defense. It has become very clear now that highly single-mode fibers with large effective mode areas are required to overcome both nonlinear effects and mode instability [1-3]. We have been studying all-solid photonic bandgap fibers (AS-PBF), which have open and highly dispersive cladding, making them ideal for higher-order-mode controls in large-mode-area fibers. I will review our recent progress in this area and, especially in ytterbium-doped AS-PBF lasers and amplifiers.
Polarizing optical fibers are important components for building compact fiber lasers with linearly polarized laser output. Conventional single-mode optical fibers with birefringence can only preserve the polarization when the incident beam is launched properly. Recent reports demonstrate that the birefringence in photonic bandgap fibers (PBFs) can provide single-polarization operation near the edge of transmission band by shifting the transmission band for the light with orthogonal polarizations. Here, we demonstrate a 50μm core Yb-doped polarizing photonic bandgap fiber (PBF) for single-polarization operation throughout the entire transmission band from 1010nm to 1170nm with a polarization extinction ratio (PER) of >5dB/m, which is >15dB/m near the short wavelength edge of the transmission band. The polarizing effect is due to the differential polarization transmission loss presented in this fiber, which is benefited from the fiber birefringence of 3.2x10-4, obtained by incorporating low-index boron-doped rods on either side of the core. The achievement is based on the fact that light at fast axis has lower effective mode index which is closer to the modes in the photonic cladding and thus to be easily coupled into cladding. A 2.6m long straight fiber was tested in a laser configuration without any polarizers to achieve single polarized laser output with a PER value of 21dB at 1026nm lasing wavelength.
Power scaling of fiber lasers is highly desirable in many applications but is mainly limited by nonlinear effects. Large-mode-area fibers have been used to mitigate this limit, such as the leakage channel fiber (LCF). The mode intensity profile in these fibers typically exhibits Gaussian-like structure with much reduced effective mode-area compared to the physical fiber core area. Thus, a flat-top mode with a uniform intensity distribution is more suitable for larger effective mode-area without having to increase core size. In this work, we demonstrate the first flat-top mode generated in a 50 μm-core Yb-doped LCF fiber. The mode flattening from Gaussian beam to a flat-top one is achieved by using a 30 μm uniform Yb-doped area in the core center with a refractive index very slightly below that of the background silica glass by 2×10-4. The resulting flat-top mode has a significantly increased effective mode area of ~1880 um2, which is ~50% larger than that of a conventional uniform core and ~6 times the effective mode area of the flat-top mode record demonstrated previously. A 6m-long fiber is also tested in a laser configuration with a slope efficiency of ~84% at 1026 nm with respect to the absorbed pump power at 976 nm.
There are still very strong interests for power scaling in high power fiber lasers for a wide range of applications in medical, industry, defense and science. In many of these lasers, fiber nonlinearities are the main limits to further scaling. Although numerous specific techniques have studied for the suppression of a wide range of nonlinearities, the fundamental solution is to scale mode areas in fibers while maintaining sufficient single mode operation. Here the key problem is that more modes are supported once physical dimensions of waveguides are increased. The key to solve this problem is to look for fiber designs with significant higher order mode suppression. In conventional waveguides, all modes are increasingly guided in the center of the waveguides when waveguide dimensions are increased. It is hard to couple a mode out in order to suppress its propagation, which severely limits their scalability. In an allsolid photonic bandgap fiber, modes are only guided due to anti-resonance of cladding photonic crystal lattice. This provides strongly mode-dependent guidance, leading to very high differential mode losses. In addition, the all-solid nature of the fiber makes it easily spliced to other fibers. In this paper, we will show for the first time that all-solid photonic bandgap fibers with effective mode area of ~920μm2 can be made with excellent higher order mode suppression.
There are still very strong interests for power scaling in high power fiber lasers for a wide range of applications in
medical, industry, defense and science. In many of these lasers, fiber nonlinearities are the main limits to further scaling. Although numerous specific techniques have studied for the suppression of a wide range of nonlinearities, the fundamental solution is to scale mode areas in fibers while maintaining sufficient single mode operation. Here the key problem is that more modes are supported once physical dimensions of waveguides are increased. The key to solve this problem is to look for fiber designs with significant higher order mode suppression. In conventional waveguides, all modes are increasingly guided in the center of the waveguides when waveguide dimensions are increased. It is hard to couple a mode out in order to suppress its propagation, which severely limits their scalability. In an all-solid photonic bandgap fiber, modes are guided due to anti-resonance of cladding photonic crystal lattice. This provides strongly modedependent guidance, leading to very high differential mode losses. In addition, the all-solid nature of the fiber makes it easily spliced to other fibers. In this paper, we will show for the first time that all-solid photonic bandgap fibers with effective mode area of ~800m2 can be made with excellent higher order mode suppression.