beam combining, fiber lasers, high power lasers, volume Bragg gratings, photo-thermo-refractive glass, pulse compression


Beam combining techniques have become an important tool in the design of high-power high-brightness laser systems. Spectral beam combining (SBC) is an incoherent combining technique that does not require phase control of sources, allowing for a stable and robust system. Using SBC, beams from an array of lasers with each element operated at a different wavelength are combined into a single near-diffraction-limited beam with the same aperture using dispersive optical elements. SBC by means of volume Bragg gratings (VBGs) utilizes unique spectral response of VBGs: diffraction efficiency is close to unity when the Bragg condition is satisfied and is close to zero at multiple points corresponding to particular wavelength offsets from Bragg condition. High-efficiency VBGs can be recorded in UV-sensitive photo-thermo-refractive (PTR) glass. Narrow-band reflecting VBGs allow multi-channel SBC with high spectral density of channels. In this dissertation, experimental results of SBC with high spectral density of combined channels in two spectral regions of interest (1064 and 1550 nm) are reported. The behavior of narrow-band VBGs under high-power laser radiation is investigated. A laser system with kW-level output power and near-diffraction-limited divergence of spectrally-combined output beam is demonstrated. The system combines five randomly-polarized Yb-doped fiber lasers with 0.5 nm spectral separation in central wavelengths using narrow-band reflecting VBGs with absolute efficiency of combining > 90%. A novel design of a multi-channel high-power SBC system is suggested. In this approach, a common-cavity is created for all channels such that wavelengths of the sources are passively controlled by the combination of a common output coupler and intra-cavity VBGs which also act as combining elements. Laser wavelengths are automatically selected to match resonant wavelengths of respective VBGs. We report successful demonstration of a passively-controlled SBC system consisting of two amplifiers in a common cavity configuration. A compact and rugged monolithic SBC module based on multiplexed VBGs is introduced. Experimental results of a four-channel implementation of such module are discussed. Modular design of high-power laser systems is suggested with multiple modules arranged in a series. We show that with basic combining parameters achieved up to date, laser systems with 10 kW output power can be constructed using this arrangement. Further scaling to 100 kW power level is discussed.


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Graduation Date



Zeldovich, Boris


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)