Synthetic diamond has enabled two significant developments in solid-state laser engineering: the first tunable diamond Raman laser, and the first continuously operating diamond Raman laser. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Photonics created these lasers by placing synthetic diamond from Element Six within the cavity of a laser. The material’s low optical loss allowed them to demonstrate the first continuously operating diamond Raman laser without the need for high-intensity laser light. The continuous-wave mode is better than pulsed emissions for applications such as spectroscopic detection of trace gases and for medical procedures requiring the precision of continuous operation rather than the power of a pulsed laser. A team at the University of Strathclyde used synthetic diamond material in its laser engineering research. Courtesy of Element Six. The tunable diamond Raman laser was built using a semiconductor disk laser, a single-crystal diamond heat spreader that helped it generate multiple watts of output power, and a piece of diamond. Synthetic diamond was chosen for its high thermal conductivity and low optical loss, and its transparency over a broad range of wavelengths. Senior research fellow Alan Kemp noted that using diamond overcomes barriers that researchers faced in the past when using other types of materials. “Although continuously operating and tunable Raman lasers have been demonstrated in the past with other materials, these materials have very poor thermal conductivity, which severely limited the output powers that could be generated. Diamond removes this barrier and has paved the way for multiwatt output powers at wavelengths that are difficult to generate with conventional lasers,” Kemp said. He collaborated on this research with Jennifer Hastie and professor Martin Dawson. For more information, visit www.strath.ac.uk.