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  • Femtosecond laser reaches kilowatt range

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2011
AACHEN, Germany – An amplification concept developed for femtosecond lasers has enabled researchers to achieve mean power in the kilowatt range for the first time.

The scientists, from Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, have taken a step that could expand the laser’s use into industrial production, resulting in greater throughput, lower maintenance costs and easier usability.

Resonator of the Yb:YAG Innoslab femtosecond amplifier. Courtesy of Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology.

The laser’s short pulses enable ultraprecise materials processing and greater precision during ablation. Its amplifier design is based on Fraunhofer’s Innoslab technology, a development characterized by a simple, robust and compact construction. The researchers extended the amplifier design to enable ultrashort pulse amplification through the large bandwidth from an yttrium-doped YAG as the active medium. The oscillator-amplifier system also enables greater flexibility in pulse duration and repetition rate.

By cascading two Innoslab amplifiers, the chain generated a mean power of 1.1 kW at a peak pulse power of 80 MW and pulse duration of 600 fs.

With the new power output levels, femtosecond lasers can be used in fields where their throughput did not suffice in the past. Applications for the new beam source in the microsector include nozzle drilling, tool and solar cell engineering, and printing technology.

femtosecond laser
A type of ultrafast laser that creates a minimal amount of heat-affected zones by having a pulse duration below the picosecond level, making the technology ideal for micromachining, medical device fabrication, scientific research, eye surgery and bioimaging.
fiber laser
A laser in which the lasing medium is an optical fiber doped with low levels of rare-earth halides to make it capable of amplifying light. Output is tunable over a broad range and can be broadband. Laser diodes can be used for pumping because of the fiber laser's low threshold power, eliminating the need for cooling.
solid-state laser
A laser using a transparent substance (crystalline or glass) as the active medium, doped to provide the energy states necessary for lasing. The pumping mechanism is the radiation from a powerful light source, such as a flash lamp. The ruby and Nd:YAG lasers are solid-state lasers.
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