Chirped Pulse Amplification for the benefit of mankind

Our photonic crystal fibers are feeling really proud these days. They are thrilled to be a part of the XCAN-project with a noble purpose, initiated by Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Gérard Mourou.

Ecole Polytechnique

Set up at the École Polytechnique, on the outskirts of Paris, the project is aiming to demonstrate how a new generation of very stable, ultrahigh power lasers can be developed. Together with the company, Thales, scientists are developing a new generation of lasers based on a “Coherent Amplification Network”.

Today, we have many types of powerful and complicated lasers which serve many different purposes. However, we have reached the physical limits of what can be done with existing laser technology.

A new generation of lasers with unmatched physical properties

The scientists behind the XCAN-project aim to revolutionize the way lasers are made. By coherent combination of a large number of optical fibers, the scientists obtain impressive efficiencies at high repetition rates.

Unfortunately, nonlinear effects limit the output energy. The nonlinear effects can be overcome by combining many optical fibers coherently. This way, the average and the peak power of the resulting beam increase while the nonlinear effects are kept constant.

The major advantages are:

  • Very high repetition rates
  • Unmatched power rates
  • Extremely low power consumption

These advantages pave the way to very powerful uses of the new laser generation.

For the benefit of mankind

With the new generation of lasers, it is possible to address any issue that does not have a solution today, such as:

  • UV photolithography that allows us to “write” twice the amount of electronic circuits on a microchip, driving the miniaturization of electronics components
  • Transmutation of nuclear waste which can help us discard nuclear waste and get a cleaner planet
  • Proton therapy and isotope production for nuclear pharmacology can give us highly targeted treatment of cancerous tumors
  • Remove orbital debris to improve safety for the satellites we use every day for communication, GPS, TV networks, military, and other purposes
  • Design solutions for sub-critical nuclear reactors to improve the production of clean energy production
  • Design more compact particle accelerators

The Ytterbium fiber used in the project

The optical fiber used in the project is the NKT Photonics Ytterbium-doped, polarizing fiber – the DC-200/40-PZ-Yb. With a mode area of more than 700 µm2, the DC-200/40-PZ-Yb represents the best in flexible single-mode ytterbium fibers and the single polarization core improves the Polarization Extinction Ratio compared to normal PM fibers.

The multimode pump light is guided by our proven air-clad technology, ensuring low loss, high damage threshold and a large Numerical Aperture (NA). The large NA relaxes tolerances on coupling optics and facilitates the use of lower brightness diodes.

The combination of robust single-mode guidance, excellent PER and a large mode area, has made this fiber the preferred choice for many industrial fiber laser manufacturers in the high-end segment.

Thank you for lending us the photo: © École Polytechnique – J.Barande