A four-element fiber array has demonstrated 470 watts of coherently phased, linearly polarized light energy in a single far-field spot. Each element consists of a single-mode fiber-amplifier chain. Phase control of each element is achieved with a Lithium-Niobate phase modulator.
A master laser provides a linearly polarized, narrow linewidth signal that is split into five channels. Four channels are individually amplified using polarization maintaining fiber power amplifiers. The fifth channel is used as a reference arm. It is frequency shifted and then combined interferometrically with a portion of each channel's signal. Detectors sense the heterodyne modulation signal, and an electronics circuit measures the relative phase for each channel. Compensating adjustments are then made to each channel's phase modulator.
This effort represents the results of a multi-year effort to achieve high power from a single element fiber amplifier and to understand the important issues involved in coherently combining many individual elements to obtain sufficient optical power for directed energy weapons. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office jointly sponsored this work.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.