A new measurement technique, capable of quantifying the number and type of modes propagating in large-mode-area fibers is both proposed and demonstrated. The measurement is based on both spatially and spectrally resolving the image of the output of the fiber under test. The measurement provides high quality images of the modes that can be used to identify the mode order, while at the same time returning the power levels of the higher-order modes relative to the fundamental mode. Alternatively the data can be used to provide statistics on the level of beam pointing instability and mode shape changes due to random uncontrolled fluctuations of the phases between the coherent modes propagating in the fiber. An added advantage of the measurement is that is requires no prior detailed knowledge of the fiber properties in order to identify the modes and quantify their relative power levels. Because of the coherent nature of the measurement, it is far more sensitive to changes in beam properties due to the mode content in the beam than is the more traditional M2 measurement for characterizing beam quality. We refer to the measurement as Spatially and Spectrally resolved imaging of mode content in fibers, or more simply as S2 imaging.
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