S. Ramachandran, J.M. Fini, M. Mermelstein, J.W. Nicholson, S. Ghalmi and M.F. Yan
This paper describes the physics and properties of a novel optical fiber that would be attractive for building high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers. Instead of propagating light in the fundamental, Gaussian-shaped mode, we describe a fiber in which the signal is forced to travel in a single, desired higher order mode (HOM). This provides for several advantages over the conventional approach, ranging from significantly higher ability to scale mode areas (and hence laser powers) to managing dispersion for ultra-short pulses – a capability that is practically nonexistent in conventional fibers. Particularly interesting is the fact that this approach challenges conventional wisdom, and demonstrates that for applications requiring meter-length fibers (as in high-power lasers), signal stability actually increases with mode order. Using this approach, we demonstrate mode areas exceeding 3200 μm2, and propagate signals with negligible mode distortions over up to 50-meter lengths. We describe several pulse propagation experiments in which we test the nonlinear response of this fiber platform, ranging from managing dispersive effects in femtosecond pulse systems, to reducing Brillouin scattering impairments in systems operating with the nanosecond pulses.