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Proceedings Paper

Effects of accelerated aging on fiber damage thresholds
Author(s): Robert E. Setchell
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Paper Abstract

Laser-induced damage mechanisms that can occur during high- intensity fiber transmission have been under study for a number of years. Our particular interest in laser initiation of explosives has led us to examine damage processes associated with the transmission of Q-switched, Nd:YAG pulses at 1.06 micrometers through step-index, multimode, fused silica fiber. Laser breakdown at the fiber entrance face is often the first process to limit fiber transmission, but catastrophic damage can also occur at either fiber end face, within the initial 'entry' segment of the fiber, and at other internal sites along the fiber path. Past studies have examined how these various damage mechanisms depend upon fiber end-face preparation, fiber fixturing and routing, laser characteristics, and laser-to-fiber injection optics. In some applications of interest, however, a fiber transmission system may spend years in storage before it is used. Consequently, an important additional issue for these applications is whether or not there are aging processes that can result in lower damage thresholds over time. Fiber end-face contamination would certainly lower breakdown and damage thresholds at these surfaces, but careful design of hermetic seals in connectors and other end-face fixtures can minimize this possibility. A more subtle possibility would be a process for the slow growth of internal defects that could lead to lower thresholds for internal damage. In the current study, two approaches to stimulating the growth of internal defects were used in an attempt to produce observable changes in internal damage threshold. In the first approach, test fibers were subjected to a very high tensile stress for a time sufficient for some fraction to fail from static fatigue. In the second approach, test fibers were subjected to a combination of high tensile stress and large, cyclic temperature variations. Both of these approaches were rather arbitrary due to the lack of an established growth mechanism for internal defects. Damage characteristics obtained from fibers subjected to each of these aging environments were compared to results from fresh fibers tested under identical conditions. A surprising result was that internal damage was not observed in any of the tested fibers. Only breakdown at the fiber entrance face and catastrophic damage at both end faces were observed. Fiber end faces were not sealed during the accelerated aging environments, and thresholds at these faces were significantly lower in the aged fibers. However, most fibers transmitted relatively high pulse energies before damaging, and a large fraction never damaged before we reached the limits of our test laser. The absence of any observable affect on internal damage thresholds is encouraging, but the current results do not rule out the possibility that some other approach to accelerated aging could reveal a growth mechanism for internal defects.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 April 1999
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 3578, Laser-Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 1998, (7 April 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.344411
Show Author Affiliations
Robert E. Setchell, Sandia National Labs. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3578:
Laser-Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 1998
Gregory J. Exarhos; Arthur H. Guenther; Mark R. Kozlowski; Keith L. Lewis; M. J. Soileau, Editor(s)

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