Lasers for use in space-borne applications require ultrahigh efficiency due to limited heat dissipation and power generation capacity. In particular, interplanetary optical communication systems require high-efficiency, moderate-power () optical transmitters in the 1600 nm wavelength range. Resonantly pumped dual-clad erbium-doped fiber lasers are best suited for this purpose. Parametric numerical optimizations are performed using a two-level propagation model modified to include spatial effects specific to large-mode-area fibers. Propagation loss mechanisms are found to be limiting factors due to the relatively low cross-sections and low quenching-free doping densities of erbium. Although experimental reports have demonstrated efficiencies up to 33%, simulation results indicate that over 53% power-conversion efficiency can be achieved using commercial fibers, and over 75% can be achieved using custom fibers employing propagation-loss mitigation strategies.
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