Compact and light
Optical fiber can be made compact and light since the fiber can be rolled up. Additionally, because the laser head can be small, a flexible system up is possible. Therefore, the setup cost can be saved and the setup position can be flexibly determined.
For bulk-type high-power solid-state laser, since thermal effects, such as the thermal lensing effect and the thermal birefringence effect. are remarkable, the beam quality is dramatically lowered. Therefore, when a bulk-type solid-state laser is developed, a cooling system must be carefully designed. On the other hand, the cooling system for fiber laser with 100W or less is a simple air-cooling. This is because the fiber laser is superior in the heat releasing property since [surface area/volume] of an optical fiber which is used as a laser medium is fourth-order or more larger than that of a rod-type medium in the bulk-type solid-state laser. Fig.1.27 shows schematics of radiation properties for rod-type solid-state laser, disk laser, and fiber laser.
Good beam quality
Laser light emitting from an optical fiber is easy to focus since the NA of fiber laser is relatively small. Therefore, the high-power density of output is realized, then high resolution processing is allowed. Furthermore, in implementing a fiber laser into a marking system, since small Galvano mirrors is available, a price reduction and a speeding up of the whole system is possible. In integrating a singlemode fiber into the system constitution, the transverse mode can be almost perfectly unified.
Good long-period stability
Because laser light is emitted from an optical fiber, the spatial fluctuation of laser beam is negligibly-small if the fiber is fixed. For all-fiber-type fiber laser where free-space optical setup is not included, thermal and mechanical effects caused by an attachment of grit and dust, and an surrounding environment are small since the all-fiber type fiber laser does not have any spatial optical device. Compared with CO2 laser, which is mostly used for laser processing applications, the fiber laser has both merits and demerits, but is superior in terms of short oscillation wavelength, good beam quality, and long focal depth. Therefore, the fiber laser can be used for processing an object put away from the focusing lens.
Wide gain width, high gain, high efficiency
Rare earth doped silica glass fiber, which is often used as a gain medium of fiber laser, is influenced by a complex crystalline field, and exhibits a broad level without micro-structure. Therefore, the rare earth doped silica glass fiber allows more wideband optical amplification than YAG crystal. In an optical fiber, even if a gain per unit length is small, a sufficient total gain is obtained since the interaction length is long, Furthermore, because it is possible to confine the pumping light in the fiber, the highly efficient pumping is possible (optical-optical conversion efficiency:~70%, electric-optical conversion efficiency:~30%).
By serially or parallelly connecting modules, the amplification of output power is relatively easy. 50kW level super high-power CW fiber laser (transmission in fiber with the core diameter of 100µm ) has been already realized.
Laser light emitted from the fiber laser can be efficiently coupled with a transmission fiber. By using the transmission fiber, it is possible to process an object put away from the laser body.
Nonlinear optical effect
In an optical fiber, because the core diameter is small and the interaction length is long, a nonlinear optical effect tends to be generated. Therefore, it is not appropriate for the high power pulsed operation, and may limit the characteristics of laser. However, by using these properties, researches with a high novelty are eagerly performed.