The Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology has announced that it will fund a DM 70 million (about $40 million) collaborative R&D project to develop high-power diode lasers. The project is one of five winners in a national competition to promote advanced technology. The Modular Diode Laser Tools project aims to develop a class of diode lasers that will enable applications that current diode systems cannot, such as deep penetration welding. Industrial laser manufacturer Rofin-Sinar Technologies Inc. will lead 21 partners in three sections of the project: The "chip technology" group will develop semiconductor devices delivering two to five times higher power and better beam quality. Members of this group are Siemens, the Ferdinand-Braun Institute in Berlin and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid-State Physics in Freiburg. Several manufacturers -- Jenoptik Laserdiode of Jena, Haas of Schramberg, Rofin-Sinar of Hamburg, Dilas of Mainz, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology of Aachen -- will integrate the components. An "applications" circle of 13 industrial laser users will demonstrate new uses in machining, automotive, electronics, plastics and steel industries. Its members include Robert Bosch GmbH and Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart, and two Fraunhofer institutes, in Aachen and Dresden. Friedrich Bachmann, project coordinator for Rofin-Sinar, said the new lasers will not be a substitute for but rather a supplement to existing lasers. He expects them to open new markets. In general, the industrial laser world market size is estimated to be about DM 4.4 billion (about $2.5 billion) in 1997 following two-digit growth in the last 10 years. The anticipated benefit for the national economy, the level of innovation, the probability of realization and the system approach have been the main criteria of the funding for the Innovative Products Based on New Technologies and Related Production Processes. About 20 percent of the 271 proposals were in the area of photonics, according to German funding officials.