Abstract

We report what is to our knowledge the first delivery of nanosecond laser pulses through flexible fibers to produce optical sparks in atmospheric-pressure gases. Our work employs a Nd:YAG laser beam (1.064μm) delivered through a cyclic olefin polymer-coated silver hollow fiber. We studied the beam properties at the fiber exit as a function of the fiber launch geometry. We found that for a low-angle launch (0.01rad half-angle), the exit beam has relatively high optical intensity (2GWcm2) and low light divergence (0.01rad half-angle) and allows downstream spark formation. The effect of fiber bending on the exit beam and on the ability to make sparks is also investigated.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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