Abstract

High concentration rare earth doped, large mode area (LMA) step-index fibers, which feature a very high cladding absorption per unit length at the pump wavelength, high efficiency, and excellent beam quality, are ideal for high power pulsed fiber lasers/amplifiers where large effective mode areas and short device lengths are crucial in order to reduce detrimental nonlinear effects associated with high peak power operation. In this Letter, we realize low numerical aperture (NA) high absorption fibers, simply by employing a germanium (Ge)-doped cladding rather than a pure silica cladding to offset the high refractive index associated with using a high concentration of ytterbium (Yb) in the core. This approach allows us to separate the two inter-linked fiber design parameters of pump absorption and NA in a step-index fiber. Using a conventional modified chemical vapor deposition process combined with solution doping, a low NA (0.04), LMA ($475\; \unicode{x00B5}{\rm m}^2$) silica fiber is fabricated with a cladding absorption value of ${\gt} 20 \; {\rm dB/m}$, which is the highest value among LMA step-index fibers with ${\rm NA}\lt 0.06$ so far reported to the best of our knowledge. The fabricated Yb-doped fiber was tested in a high-power picosecond amplifier system and enabled the generation of 190 ps laser pulses with a 101 µJ pulse energy and 0.5 MW peak power at an average power of 150 W.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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