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Fiber Amplifier Achieves Record Power Output
May 2003
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 15 -- Northrop Grumman Corp. said it has developed a fiber amplifier that produces a record output of 155 watts from a slender optical glass thread. The energy emerges as infrared light with a single polarization.

"This demonstration is a big step forward in the scaling of fiber lasers to high power," said Jackie Gish, technology product area manager for Northrop Grumman Space Technology. "Our approach is scaleable, and if you were to coherently combine a number of such fibers, as we’re starting to do, you begin to reach significant laser power levels. Fiber amplifiers also exhibit a high 'wall plug' efficiency that yields savings in weight and power input."

The Northrop Grumman fiber amplifier possesses two key technical properties: Its single-spatial-mode fiber ensures minimum diffraction of the light beam, delivering maximum power on target, and the amplifier maintains a single polarization. This feature enables the coherent combination of output from multiple fiber amplifiers, to deliver the highest energy on target, according to the company.

"Our measured results are substantially higher than any previously reported power levels for single mode, polarization-maintaining fiber amplifiers," Gish added.

Northrop Grumman developed the fiber amplifier under a contract with the Department of Defense Joint Technology Office. The company said there is strong interest in fiber amplifiers because of their high efficiency, which exceeds that of slab lasers. The optical efficiency reduces the amount of waste heat that has to be rejected and provides power and weight savings.

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