We investigate the effect of temperature gradients in high-power Yb-doped fiber amplifiers by a numerical beam propagation model, which takes thermal effects into account in a self-consistent way. The thermally induced change in the refractive index of the fiber leads to a thermal lensing effect, which decreases the effective mode area. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the thermal lensing effect may lead to effective multi-mode behavior, even in single-mode designs, which could possibly lead to degradation of the output beam quality.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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