Researchers boost fibre laser power with new technique

The power of fibre lasers has been increased without sacrificing beam quality by researchers from University of South Australia (UniSA), the University of Adelaide (UoA) and Yale University, according to a statement from UniSA, offering potential in counterdrone and other technologies.

The researchers demonstrated multimode optical fibre to scale up power in fibre lasers by between three and nine times in a paper in Nature Communications, with co-first author Dr Linh Nguyen from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute saying the new approach will make lasers more useful in applications for defence, remote sensing applications and gravitational wave detection.

“High-power fibre lasers are vital in manufacturing and defence, and becoming more so with the proliferation of cheap, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in modern battlefields,” said Nguyen.

“A swarm of cheap drones can quickly drain the missile resource, leaving military assets and vehicles with depleted firing power for more combat-critical missions. High-power fibre lasers, with their extremely low-cost-per-shot and speed of light action, are the only feasible defence solution in the long run.

“This is known as asymmetric advantage: a cheaper approach can defeat a more expensive, high-tech system by playing the large number.”

Dr Ori Henderson-Sapir from University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing said Australia has a long history of innovation in fibre optics.

“Our research launches Australia into a world-leading position to develop the next generation of high-power fibre lasers, not only for defence applications, but to aid new scientific discoveries.”

The researchers will present their research at the Photonics West industry conference in early-2024.

Picture: credit UniSA

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