Abstract

The effect of laser noise on the atmospheric propagation of high-power CW lasers and high-intensity short pulse lasers in dispersive and nonlinear media is studied. We consider the coupling of laser intensity noise and phase noise to the spatial and temporal evolution of laser radiation. High-power CW laser systems have relatively large fractional levels of intensity noise and frequency noise. We show that laser noise can have important effects on the propagation of high-power as well as high-intensity lasers in a dispersive and nonlinear medium such as air. A paraxial wave equation, containing dispersion and nonlinear effects, is expanded in terms of fluctuations in the intensity and phase. Longitudinal and transverse intensity noise and frequency noise are considered. The laser propagation model includes group velocity dispersion, Kerr, delayed Raman response, and optical self-steepening effects. A set of coupled linearized equations are derived for the evolution of the laser intensity and frequency fluctuations. In certain limits, these equations can be solved analytically. For example, we find that, in a dispersive medium, frequency noise can couple to and induce intensity noise (fluctuations) and vice versa. At high intensities, the Kerr effect can reduce this intensity noise. In addition, significant spectral modification can occur if the initial intensity noise level is sufficiently high. Finally, our model is used to study the transverse and longitudinal modulational instabilities. We present atmospheric propagation examples of the spatial and temporal evolution of intensity and frequency fluctuations due to noise for laser wavelengths of 0.85 μm, 1 μm, and 10.6 μm.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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