We present a simple semianalytical model of thermally induced mode coupling in multimode rare-earth doped fiber amplifiers. The model predicts that power can be transferred from the fundamental mode to a higher-order mode when the operating power exceeds a certain threshold, and thus provides an explanation of recently reported mode instability in such fiber amplifiers under high average-power operation. We apply our model to a simple step-index fiber design, and investigate how the power threshold depends on various design parameters of the fiber.
© 2012 Optical Society of America
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