Connecticut Patent of the Month – February 2022

Master Oscillator Power Amplifiers (MOPA) are laser systems that use an optical amplifier to boost the output power of the laser. This improves the system flexibility. MOPA lasers are most commonly used for high-contrast marking of metals like anodized aluminum, nickel alloys, and titanium without damaging the surface. Unfortunately, when trying to scale these lasers to greater output powers, they are limited by a few parameters. Scaling can lead to stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS) which can cause back reflections that reduce the efficiency of the laser. It can also cause spectral broadening by self-phase modulation (SPM). This occurs when the intense laser radiation is confined within the core of an optical fiber and causes a change in the spectral bandwidth.

NuFern, Inc. are experts in lasers, with 50 years of experience in photonics. Nufern has recently developed a device that can scramble the polarization of the laser radiation, leading to amplified MOPA laser power without creating SPM or SBS. Their design uses a linear polarizer and phase modulators. The first phase modulator increases the spectral bandwidth of the laser beam to a desired spectral bandwidth, preventing spectral broadening by SPM. The second phase modulator depolarizes the laser beam.

An optical coupler receives the linearly polarized laser beam from the polarizer and divides it into two separate polarization components each with equal power. Each component is then delivered to the fast and slow axes of the polarization-scrambling phase modulator. This process effectively mitigates SBS.

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