We investigate the influence of spatial coherence on damage occurrence in highly multimode optical fibers using ultraviolet (UV) nanosecond pulses, with the aim of delivering high fluence in the UV. In some cases, the optical damage is initiated below the fiber facet damage threshold and takes place along the propagation path; such damage is believed to be caused by local constructive interference, creating hot spots. In order to reduce the degree of spatial coherence, we used a large-diameter core (1.5 mm) fiber as a mode scrambler. Different lengths of this large core fiber were used to deliver energy to a fiber core with a smaller diameter (0.6 mm), in which the damage occurrence was observed. The experimental results indicate that there is a correlation between the degree of spatial coherence and the occurrence of optical damages, typically observed a few millimeters from the fiber facet. Numerical simulations, based on the beam-propagation method, support the degradation of spatial coherence, due to the excitation of high-order modes. Finally, by degrading the spatial coherence of the beam, we establish a new record by delivering more than 100 mJ via a 1.5 mm core diameter fiber in the UV, corresponding to ¡26 times the critical power for self-focusing. Our work sheds light on the ability to deliver high energies of nanosecond-pulsed UV laser radiation through multimode optical fibers.
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© 2015 Optical Society of America.