The threshold-like onset of transversal mode instabilities that occurs in fiber laser systems in high average power operation is investigated experimentally. We used a high-speed high-resolution camera to resolve the temporal dynamics of mode instabilities. Moreover, we carried out a mode decomposition and a Fourier analysis of the recorded data. The results show that a nearly complete energy-transfer between the modes can occur within milliseconds. Furthermore, the results also show that the larger the core the slower the mode instabilities fluctuate with time. This supports the thesis that mode instabilities are of thermal origin.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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