The Double-Clad Fiber Laser 

Farhad Hakimi 

The author offers a personal view of the early development of a device that wrought a “silent revolution” in lasers and communications.

figureA fiber laser cutting machine. Double-clad fiber lasers, initially developed at Polaroid in the late 1980s, continue to impact laser science and technology across a wide range of industry and scientific applications. [Phuchit / Getty Images]

The double-clad (DC) fiber laser has proved a game changer in laser technology and communications, with a global impact on sectors ranging from commerce to science and medicine to the military. Yet, ironically, this technology—which was initially developed for a Polaroid printer in the mid-1980s and continues to shape laser science and engineering today—faced early skepticism and opposition that nearly led to its demise. In this essay, I offer some personal recollections of those early days, as a member of the Polaroid team that helped develop this breakthrough technology.

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