Keywords

Fiber lasers, volume bragg gratings, beam combining techniques, phase locking

Abstract

The main objective of this thesis is to explore the use of volume holographic elements recorded in photo-thermo-refractive (PTR) glass for power scaling of narrow linewidth diffraction-limited fiber lasers to harness high average power and high brightness beams. Single fiber lasers enable kW level output powers limited by optical damage, thermal effects and non-linear effects. Output powers can be further scaled using large mode area fibers, however, at the cost of beam quality and instabilities due to the presence of higher order modes. The mechanisms limiting the performance of narrow-linewidth large mode area fiber lasers are investigated and solutions using intra-cavity volume Bragg gratings (VBG) proposed. Selfpulsations-free, completely continuous-wave operation of a VBG-stabilized unidirectional fiber ring laser is demonstrated with quasi single-frequency ( < 7.5 MHz) output. A method for transverse mode selection in multimode fiber lasers to reduce higher order mode content and stabilize the output beam profile is developed using angular selectivity of reflecting VBGs. By placing the VBG output coupler in a convergent beam, stabilization of the far-field beam profile of a 20 μm core large mode area fiber laser is demonstrated. Beam combining techniques are essential to power scale beyond the limitations of single laser sources. Several beam combining techniques relevant to fiber lasers were compared in this study and found to be lacking in one or more of the following aspects: the coherence of the individual sources is compromised, the far-field beam quality is highly degraded with significant power in iv side lobes, spectrally broad and unstable, and uncertainty over scaling to larger arrays and higher power. Keeping in mind the key requirements of coherence, good far-field beam quality, narrow and stable spectra, and scalability in both array size and power, a new passive coherent beam combining technique using multiplexed volume Bragg gratings (M-VBGs) is proposed. In order to understand the mechanism of radiation exchange between multiple beams via these complex holographic optical elements, the spectral and beam splitting properties a 2nd order reflecting M-VBG recorded in PTR glass is experimentally investigated using a tunable single frequency seed laser. Two single-mode Yb-doped fiber lasers are then coherently combined using reflecting M-VBGs in both linear and unidirectional-ring resonators with >90% combining efficiency and diffraction-limited beam quality. It is demonstrated that the combining bandwidth can be controlled in the range of 100s of pm to a few pm by angular detuning of the M-VBG. Very narrow-linewidth ( < 210 MHz) operation in a linear cavity and possibility of singlefrequency operation in a unidirectional ring cavity of the coherently combined system is demonstrated using this technique. It is theoretically derived and experimentally demonstrated that high combining efficiency can be achieved even by multiplexing low-efficiency VBGs, with the required diffraction efficiency of individual VBGs decreasing as array size increases. Scaling of passive coherent beam combining to four fiber lasers is demonstrated using a 4th order transmitting M-VBG. Power scaling of this technique to 10 W level combined powers with 88% combining efficiency is demonstrated by passively combining two large mode area fiber lasers using a 2nd order reflecting M-VBG in a unidirectional ring resonator. High energy compact single-frequency sources are highly desired for several applications – one of which is as a seed for high power fiber amplifiers. Towards achieving the goal of a monolithic solid-state laser, a new gain medium having both photosensitive and luminescence properties is investigated – rare-earth doped PTR glass. First lasing is demonstrated in this new gain element in a VBG-stabilized external cavity.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2012

Semester

Fall

Advisor

Glebov, Leonid

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Optics and Photonics

Department

Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0004553

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0004553

Language

English

Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics, Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic

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