Laser, high energy, large core optical fiber, fiber optic, stimulated brillouin scattering, rsoft, zemax, laser damage, beam propagation method


Laser induced damage is of interest in studying the transmission of large amounts of optical energy through step-index, large core multimode fibers. Optical fibers often have to be routed around objects when laser light is being transmitted between two locations which require the fiber to bend into a curve. Depending on how tight the bend is, this can result in transmission losses or even catastrophic damage when the energy density of the laser pulse exceeds the damage threshold of silica glass. The purpose of this study is to: Establish a minimum bend radius that would allow high energy (GW/cm2 ) to be transmitted through multimode fiber. Evaluate unique fiber routing configurations including loops, 180 bends, and S-bends. Develop optical modeling simulations backed with experimental data that can serve to predict critical areas for future systems. Waveguide theory predicts that light traveling through a bend will form whispering-gallery modes that propagate through total internal reflection bounces along the inside of the outer edge of the bend. This is critical since in these locations the energy density of the light will increase significantly, raising the potential of laser damage, nonlinear effects, and transmission losses. This loss is especially problematic when two 90° bends going in opposite directions are in close proximity to each other, forming an ‘S-bend’. Light that is grouped along the outer edge going through the first bend will enter the second bend at a sharper angle which causes much high transmission losses and raises the possibility of failure. iv Models using R-Soft BeamProp and Zemax were developed to study transmission losses, investigate light interactions at critical areas, and predict under which conditions laser damage would occur. BeamProp presents a clearer view of the modal distribution of light within the core of the fiber and is used to analyze how a plane wave with a Gaussian intensity distribution excites the fiber modes. Zemax provides a tool to perform non-sequential ray tracing through the fiber cable and stray light analysis within the core and once the light exits the fiber. Intensity distributions of the cross sectional area of the fiber shows the whispering gallery modes forming as the light propagates around bends and disburses as it propagates afterwards. It was discovered using R-Soft that if the separation distance between bends in an S-bend is approximately 3 mm there exists a condition where maximum transmission occurs. For 365 µm diameter core fiber it was calculated that the difference in output power could be as high as 150%. This was initially completely unexpected; however ray tracing using Zemax was able to verify that this distance allows the light to transition so that it enters the 2nd bend at the optimal angle to enter the whispering gallery mode. Experiments were performed that validated the models’ predictions and images were captured clearly showing the spatial distribution shift of the light within the core of the fiber. Experiments were performed to verify light grouping together to form whispering gallery modes as predicted by Zemax. Microscope images were taken as a function of distance from various bends to observe the periodic nature in which the laser light fills up the fiber. Additionally, a configuration was setup to examine stimulated Brillioun scattering and determine the onset of laser damage in the fiber. Fibers were tested as a function of bend radius and number of shots v and recommendations for future systems were made. Lastly, mechanical failure tests were performed to determine the relationship between stress placed on the fiber through bending and fiber lifetime in a static environment. This allowed a minimum safe bend radius to be calculated for a 30 year lifetime that agreed with previous calculated values.


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Graduation Date





Schulzgen, Axel


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

August 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


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