Cylindrical optical waveguides called optical MNFs have diameters below or very near the wavelength of light. Since its initial experimental demonstration, low-loss silica MNF has gained popularity in various fields, including optomechanics, nonlinear optics, optical sensors, and atom optics. The most efficient way to improve light-matter interaction and uncover new possibilities for both scientific study and technological applications is, in general, to increase the optical waveguiding mode power. However, the greatest documented CW mode power in an MNF is only around 0.4 W, and the average waveguiding power (in CW or averaged power) is less than 0.1 W. Additionally, it is uncertain what the optical damage threshold is, or how much power an MNF can broadcast.
In a recent study, a group of researchers produced high-power CW optical waveguiding in an optical MNF at a wavelength of about 1550 nm with power up to 13 W, more than 30 times greater than the maximum power previously recorded. They demonstrate that the MNF maintains a high optical transmittance (> 95%) even while waveguiding such high-power CW, with no conspicuous single scattering patches on the fiber surface. The MNF can safely handle CW powers up to 10 W without detectable deterioration throughout a two-month test. Based on the absorption-induced heat impact, they forecast an optical damage threshold higher than 70 W (in CW power) in a single MNF in the air.
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