Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA), the University of Adelaide (UoA), and Yale University have recently introduced a groundbreaking method aimed at significantly amplifying the power of fiber lasers. This development, featured in Nature Communications, harnesses the potential of multimode optical fiber, enabling a remarkable three-to-ninefold increase in power while maintaining beam quality. The innovation holds immense promise for various applications, particularly in defense against low-cost drones and advancements in remote sensing.
Co-first author Dr. Linh Nguyen, a researcher at UniSA's Future Industries Institute, underscores the significance of this novel approach in enhancing the utility of high-power fiber lasers in defense and remote sensing. With the increasing prevalence of inexpensive drones in modern battle scenarios, high-power fiber lasers emerge as a cost-effective and swift-response solution, countering the potential threat posed by drone swarms. This aligns seamlessly with strategic defense objectives, emphasizing the concept of an asymmetric advantage where a more economical approach can effectively counter a more expensive, high-tech system.
Dr. Nguyen states, “High-power fiber lasers are vital in manufacturing and defense, and becoming more so with the proliferation of cheap, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in modern battlefields. 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 fiber lasers, with their extremely low-cost-per-shot and speed-of-light action, are the only feasible defense solution in the long run.”
This breakthrough capability has the potential to provide a robust deterrent effect, aligning well with the objectives outlined in the Defense Strategic Review and AUKUS Pillar 2 objectives.
Dr. Ori Henderson-Sapir, project investigator at UoA's Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, highlights Australia's long-standing history of developing innovative fiber optics technologies. He notes, “Our research launches Australia into a world-leading position to develop the next generation of high-power fiber lasers, not only for defense applications but to aid new scientific discoveries.”
The researchers have successfully demonstrated the technology in fiber lasers and are slated to present their findings at Photonics West in San Francisco in early 2024. This marks a significant stride toward advancing fiber laser technology on the global stage, showcasing Australia's leadership in the field.
Source: University of South Australia