High efficiency laser for space-borne lidar applications
The next generation of space-based lidar systems requires high energy and highly efficient solid-state laser transmitters. High efficiency enables the system volume and weight to be reduced, both for the laser and the primary power source. For a space-based lidar application, this means reduced launch weight (and cost) and longer satellite lifetime. The current baseline approach is to use diode-pumped Nd:YAG lasers. These lasers must exhibit good beam quality for efficient frequency conversion into the near infrared for cloud and aerosol measurements and into the ultraviolet for ozone detection. Typical electrical efficiency for a spaced-based Nd:YAG laser is 6%. Aculight Corporation proposes to develop a >10% electrically efficient, 1J/pulse, diode-pumped laser based on the new material ytterbium strontium fluoroapatite (Yb-SFAP) as the gain medium. The laser developed in the Phase II shall be traceable to space-based applications. In Phase I, Aculight proposes to demonstrate a diode-pumped Yb:S-FAP Q-switched oscillator that generates a flattop beam with high extraction efficiency. In Phase II, a laser system with an output energy of 1 J/pulse at up to 10 Hz with greater than 10% electrical efficiency will be produced and delivered to NASA for evaluation.
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