An apparatus, method and system that uses a Q-switched laser or a Q-seed source for a seed pulse signal having a controlled high-dynamic-range amplitude that avoids and/or compensates for pulse steepening in high-gain optical-fiber and/or optical-rod amplification of optical pulses. Optionally, the optical output is used for LIDAR or illumination purposes (e.g., for image acquisition). In some embodiments, well-controlled pulse shapes are obtained having a wide dynamic range, long duration, and not-too-narrow linewidth. In some embodiments, upon the opening of a Q-switch in an optical cavity having a gain medium, the amplification builds relatively slowly, wherein each round trip through the gain medium increases the amplitude of the optical pulse. Other embodiments use quasi-Q-switch devices or a plurality of amplitude modulators to obtain Q-seed pulses. These configurations provide optical pulses having wide dynamic ranges that ameliorate problems of pulse steepening, non-linear spectral broadening and the like in very-high-power MOPA devices.
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