Northrop Grumman Corporation has surpassed Phase I goals for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Revolution in Fiber Lasers (RIFL) program that seeks to mature fiber laser technology
With a 1 kilowatt (kW) single mode fiber amplifier, the company demonstrated a near-perfect beam quality of better than 1.2 and efficiency better than 30 percent, twice the program’s goal of 15 percent. Northrop Grumman also demonstrated a polarization extinction ratio of 50:1, and extremely low phase noise, which is essential for the coherent combination of laser chains used to scale power to weapons-class levels.
The $4.6 million, 18-month Phase II DARPA contract calls for scaling power to 3kW in a single mode fiber amplifier. The company has patents on techniques used to facilitate combination of many fiber amplifier beams, while maintaining near-ideal beam quality. The ultimate goal is to develop the technology to 100kW, the power necessary to field a lethal laser weapon