Bragg gratings, Laser beams, Lasers
High power lasers with diffraction limited beam quality are desired for many applications in defense and manufacturing. A lot of applications require laser beams at the 100 kW power level along with divergence close to the diffraction limit. The figure of merit for a beam used in such applications should be radiance which determines the laser power delivered to a remote target. One of the primary limiting factors is thermal distortion of a laser beam caused by excessive heat generated in the laser media. Combination of multiple laser beams is usually considered as a method to mitigate these limitations. Spectral beam combining (SBC) by volume Bragg gratings (VBGs) is a very promising method for the future of high radiance lasers that needs to achieve 100 kW-level power. This work is dedicated to development of methods to increase spectral density of combined beams keeping their divergence at an acceptably low level. A new figure of merit for a beam combining system is proposed, the Beam Combining Factor (BCF), which makes it possible to distinguish the quality of the individual beams from the quality of beam combining. Also presented is a method of including the effect of beam divergence and spectral bandwidth on the performance of VBGs, as well as a method to optimize VBG parameters in terms of thickness and refractive index modulation for an arbitrary number of beams. A novel thermal tuning technique and apparatus is presented with which the SBC system can be tuned for peak efficiency from low to high power without the need for mechanical re- iv alignment. Finally, a thermally tuned SBC system with five beams, with a spectral separation between beams of 0.25 nm at a total power of 685 W is presented. The results show the highest power spectral density and highest spectral radiance of any SBC system to date. Recent demonstrations in SBC by multiplexed VBGs and the use of super Gaussian beams for beam quality improvement are also discussed.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Optics and Photonics
Optics and Photonics
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics, Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic
Drachenberg, Derrek, "Ultra High Density Spectral Beam Combining By Thermal Tuning Of Volume Bragg Gratings In Photo-thermo-refractive Glass" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1844.