Mitchell Physics Building
College Station, Texas 77843-4242
In theory, no more than 80% of the light diffracted by a circular aperture can be directly coupled into one mode of an ordinary optical fiber. To improve coupling efficiency, and illustrate an inverse method for designing optical fibers with a desired mode shape, they have made an optical fiber that guides an approximate Airy pattern as one of its modes. The fiber's attenuation was 11.0 dB/km at a 1550 nm wavelength, the match between the fiber's mode and the ideal infinite Airy pattern was 93.7%, and the far field resembled a top-hat beam. The guidance mechanism has strong similarities to photonic bandgap guidance.
Laser weapons have found a niche in much science fiction culture as "the weapon of the future." Military spending in this area reached a peak with the infamous "Star Wars" program of the Reagan era and has since steadily decreased. However, research funding remains in the range of 500 million/year and recent progress in fiber lasers has shown promise in revitalizing the field. My presentation will evaluate the current (declassified) history in making such weapons an active part of our military arsenal, particularly the challenge of delivering megawatts of power in a system that can fit onto a mobile carrier.
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