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Researchers have developed a method for enhancing the performance of optical fiber lasers. Optical fiber provides a conduit for transmitting light, including lasers. By adding different elements to that fiber, a process called “doping,” inventors can change the properties of how such fiber transmits light.

Such lasers, which have direct applications in laser-based countermeasures for military and non-military aircraft, are enabling the development of aircraft-based technologies for detecting and defeating missile attacks. Heat-seeking missiles work by targeting the heat of jet engines. To foil these missiles, aircraft would deploy bright thermal flares to fool the missiles and draw them away. As technologies developed in the 1970s have advanced, engineers have turned to laser-based innovations for such countermeasures.

A University of Arizona team of inventors led by Nasser Peyghambarian, a professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences has developed the method. They created a formulation for phosphate-doped fiber and tellurite-doped fiber, enhancing their performance and allowing for the building of more powerful fiber lasers and optical amplifiers.

With the help of Tech Launch Arizona, the commercialization arm of UArizona, the university has patented the technology and licensed it to startup CMLaser Technologies, according to uanews.arizona.edu.