New system enables manufacturers to reduce the cost and space needed to combine and boost the output brightness of semiconductor laser sources
UCF researchers have invented a system that requires less physical space and is less expensive than other laser brightness enhancement systems. By uniquely integrating few-mode fiber and photonic lantern technologies, the new system enables the ability to collect, combine, and enhance the output brightness of multiple lasers that emit different spatial modes.
Traditional multi-mode optical fiber combiner systems are designed to conserve brightness. As a result, they never exceed the sum of the input brightness of their laser sources. The UCF system overcomes this limitation by using unique photonic lanterns with the fundamental properties of waveguides (fibers) designed into them. The design maximizes the energy density of laser sources to the smallest possible product of area and divergence of a waveguide. Thus, it increases the brightness of combined laser output without resorting to energy exchange processes (such as those used in nonlinear optics).
The following figure depicts an application of the system for a semiconductor laser.
In the example, light from multiple laser sources (1, 2, 3) is collected by fast axis collimating (FAC) and slow axis collimating (SAC) lenses. A focusing lens (5) then directs the light into few-mode fibers (6) that are connected to a photonic lantern (7). The PL separates the output of the FMFs into single modes and then recombines them into another PL (8), which connects to another FMF (9). The second FMF contains a super mode (10) that maximizes the brightness of all of the individual laser sources. Each PL is designed to operate over a large optical bandwidth, which is essential to match the optical bandwidth emitted from visible semiconductor lasers.
The research team is looking for partners to further develop the technology for commercialization.
- Maximizes the output brightness of multiple combined laser sources while minimizing space
- Low cost
- High power lasers for industrial and military applications
- Materials processing
- Long-range free-space communications
- Spectroscopy and sensors, such as light detection and ranging (LIDAR)