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Impact of photodarkening on the mode instability threshold

: Otto, Hans-Jürgen; Modsching, Norbert; Jauregui, Cesar; Limpert, Jens; Tünnermann, Andreas

Postprint (PDF; )

Optics Express 23 (2015), No.12, pp.15265-15277
ISSN: 1094-4087
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IOF ()

The threshold-like onset of mode instabilities is currently the main limitation for the scaling of the average output power of fiber laser systems with diffraction limited beam quality. In this contribution, the impact of a wavelength shift of the seed signal on the mode instability threshold has been investigated. Against expectations, it is experimentally shown that the highest mode instabilities threshold is reached around 1030 nm and not for the smallest wavelength separation between pump and signal. This finding implies that the quantum defect is not the only source of thermal heating in the fiber. Systematic experiments and simulations have helped in identifying photodarkening as the most likely second heat source in the fiber. It is shown that even a negligible photodarkening-induced power loss can lead to a decrease of the mode instabilities threshold by a factor of two. Consequently, reduction of photodarkening is a promising way to mitigate mode instabilities.