Dr. Shadi A. Naderi from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) was recently honored as the 2018 third quarter winner of the Department of Defense (DoD) Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter Award. Naderi was recognized for her outstanding and distinguished accomplishments as an internationally recognized subject matter expert in fiber laser modeling and simulation.
The United States Air Force (USAF) desires to place high energy lasers (HEL) on its aircraft as both a defensive weapon for defeating threats such as air-to-air missiles as well as an offensive weapon for attacking airborne and ground targets, greatly expanding aircraft capabilities. Driven by Air Combat Command requirements, such an HEL weapon must be sufficiently lethal to disable these targets as well as small enough and light enough to fit on an aircraft by the early 2020s. Naderi’s distinguished accomplishments in modeling and simulation of high power fiber lasers have provided unique and important contributions to AFRL. Development of this HEL weapon has the potential to change the way air warfare is fought, while also providing to the USAF and the DoD laser weapon solutions for offense and defense capabilities in highly contested air space.
A lethal laser must be bright, having high concentrations of energy at distance, and fiber lasers are a leading candidate for developing a lethal HEL weapon. These lasers generate remarkable amounts of bright light in shards of silica glass meters long but only 200 to 400 microns in diameter. This slender format allows heat to be readily rejected but leads to extreme conditions and nonlinear optical processes that, if not addressed, will undermine the fiber's ability to generate bright light. One such non-linear process is multi-mode instability where the strong thermal gradients interact with the light in a complex nonlinear interaction that diminishes the brightness of the fiber laser and had created a road block preventing scaling to required power and brightness. Naderi’s recent work in the advancement of multi-mode instability suppression to push the single fiber output power to the 5 kW class has been exceptional.
Naderi is a respected member of the fiber laser community, devising new and creative ways to suppress multi-mode instability in the quest to scale a single fiber to even higher power, significantly enhancing the mission of the USAF and the DoD. Her research will continue to help the Department achieve its goals to assist in solving the most pressing technological challenges on both a national and global scale, now and in the future.