We present a novel ytterbium (Yb)-doped large-pitch fiber design with significantly increased pump absorption and higher energy storage/gain per unit length, which enables high-peak-power fiber laser systems with smaller footprints. Up to now index matching between core and surrounding material in microstructured fibers was achieved by co-doping the active core region with fluorine. Here we carry out the index matching by passively doping the cladding with germanium, thus raising its index of refraction. Hence, the fluorine in the core can be omitted, which leads to an effective increase of the core doping concentration, while detrimental effects such as photo-darkening and lifetime quenching are avoided by maintaining the bulk Yb concentration. Experiments and simulations show that a gain higher than and an output average power higher than 100 W with excellent beam quality are feasible even with a fiber length of only 40 cm.
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