Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Characterization and Power Scaling of Beam-Combinable Ytterbium-Doped Microstructured Fiber Amplifiers
by Mart, Cody W., Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2017, 105; 10621184
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, high-power ytterbium-doped fiber amplifiers designed with advanced waveguide concepts are characterized and power scaled. Fiber waveguides utilizing cladding microstructures to achieve wave guidance via the photonic bandgap (PBG) effect and a combination of PBG and modified total internal reflection (MTIR) have been proposed as viable single-mode waveguides. Such novel structures allow larger core diameters (>35 ?m diameters) than conventional step-index fibers while still maintaining near-diffraction limited beam quality. These microstructured fibers are demonstrated as robust single-mode waveguides at low powers and are power scaled to realize the thermal power limits of the structure. Here above a certain power threshold, these coiled few-mode fibers have been shown to be limited by modal instability (MI); where energy is dynamically transferred between the fundamental mode and higher-order modes. Nonlinear effects such as stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS) are also studied in these fiber waveguides as part of this dissertation. Suppressing SBS is critical towards achieving narrow optical bandwidths (linewidths) necessary for efficient fiber amplifier beam combining. Towards that end, new effects that favorably reduce acoustic wave dispersion to increase the SBS threshold are discovered and reported.

The first advanced waveguide examined is a Yb-doped 50/400 μm diameter core/clad PBGF. The PBGF is power scaled with a single-frequency 1064 nm seed to an MI-limited 410 W with 79% optical-to-optical efficiency and near-diffraction limited beam quality (M-Squared < 1.25) before MI onset. To this author’s knowledge, this represents 2.4x improvement in power output from a PBGF amplifier without consideration for linewidth and a 16x improvement in single-frequency power output from a PBGF amplifier.

During power scaling of the PBGF, a remarkably low Brillouin response was elicited from the fiber even when the ultra large diameter 50 μm core is accounted for in the SBS threshold equation. Subsequent interrogation of the Brillouin response in a pump probe Brillouin gain spectrum diagnostic estimated a Brillouin gain coefficient, gB, of 0.62E-11 m/W; which is 4x reduced from standard silica-based fiber. A finite element numerical model that solves the inhomogenous Helmholtz equation that governs the acoustic and optical coupling in SBS is utilized to verify experimental results with an estimated gB = 0.68E-11 m/W. Consequently, a novel SBS-suppression mechanism based on inclusion of sub-optical wavelength acoustic features in the core is proposed.

The second advanced waveguide analyzed is a 35/350 μm diameter core/clad fiber that achieved wave guidance via both PBG and MTIR, and is referred to as a hybrid fiber. The waveguide benefits mutually from the amenable properties of PBG and MTIR wave guidance because robust single-mode propagation with minimal confinement loss is assured due to MTIR effects, and the waveguide spectrally filters unwanted wavelengths via the PBG effect. The waveguide employs annular Yb-doped gain tailoring to reduce thermal effects and mitigate MI. Moreover, it is designed to suppress Raman processes for a 1064 nm signal by attenuating wavelengths > 1110 nm via the PBG effect. When seeded with a 1064 nm signal deterministically broadened to ∼1 GHz, the hybrid fiber was power scaled to a MI-limited 820 W with 78% optical-to-optical efficiency and near diffraction limited beam quality of M_Squared ∼1.2 before MI onset. This represents a 14x improvement in power output from a hybrid fiber, and demonstrates that this type of fiber amplifier is a quality candidate for further power scaling for beam combining.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kieu, Khanh Q.
Commitee: Norwood, Robert A., Pulford, Benjamin N.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Optical Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Optics
Keywords: Fiber laser, High energy laser, Photonic bandgap fiber, Photonic crystal fiber, Stimulated brillouin scattering
Publication Number: 10621184
ISBN: 9780355227659
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