A potential NASA application of the proposed eye-safe high efficiency, high average power fiber amplifier lies in space-based optical telecommunication. Fiber-based master oscillator power amplifiers at 1550 nm are believed to be the most likely candidates for laser transmitters that meet the efficiency, power and modulation requirement of deep-space optical communication. In addition to data communication, such laser transceiver system can provide precision range and velocity tracking for spacecraft navigation. The proposed system can also be used in direct energy detection Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems for atmospheric research and meteorology. Narrow linewidth pulsed laser systems operating around 1.6 um would be particularly applicable for direct detection differential absorption LIDAR CO2 measurements.
Commercial applications of this type of laser system may be in materials processing where the eye-safe wavelength and high peak power capability of the fibers developed may provide an advantage in terms of application speed or quality. If such systems are found to be useful for industrial applications, nLight will pursue commercialization of such products as an addition to their existing line of 1 um commercial pulsed fiber laser products. For instance, there is substantial interest in 15xx to 19xx nm lasers for a variety of plastics welding and biomedical applications. It is expected that these high average power, high pulse energy eye-safe fiber lasers will be useful in materials processing, biomedical, and other light industrial applications. There is also an emerging market in eye-safe Flash-LIDAR/LADAR for both military and industrial sensing applications which require both the pumps and the fiber laser/amplifiers proposed in this program.