Partners to Boost European Supply of Space-Qualified Laser Crystals

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Laser Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) will partner with Optomaterials srl in Italy and Altechna Coatings UAB in Lithuania to develop a European supply chain for space-qualified, high-performance laser crystals made of alexandrite. The EU project, named “High-Performance Alexandrite Crystals and Coatings for High-Power Space Applications” (GALACTIC), aims to make these laser crystals available to the European Space Agency (ESA) for its Earth observation satellites.

The GALACTIC consortium qualifies Alexandrite laser crystals for high-performance applications in space. Courtesy of LZH.
The GALACTIC consortium qualifies alexandrite laser crystals for high-performance applications in space. Courtesy of Laser Zentrum Hannover.

Altechna Coatings will develop space-compliant, highly durable optical coatings specifically tailored for alexandrite pulsed laser operation. Optomaterials will advance alexandrite crystal growth and machining techniques to produce high-quality alexandrite laser crystals. LZH will develop demonstrator laser systems based on the newly developed crystals to demonstrate their superior lasing performance.

Unlike neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) crystals, which are currently used in satellites for generating data, alexandrite crystals are tunable. They are also stronger and provide better thermal conductivity than Nd:YAG crystals.

While the ESA further investigates whether alexandrite crystals can replace Nd:YAG crystals, the GALACTIC project partners are working to increase the availability of these crystals and raise their technology readiness level (TRL) from TRL 4 to TRL 6. The combined expertise of the partners will enable a detailed TRL 6 qualification of the coated alexandrite crystal, making these crystals a new, purely European product to be used for future space missions. 

Published: April 2020
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
A host crystal for chromium that emits pulsed or continuous-wave laser light, tunable from about 720 to 790 nm.
Research & TechnologypartnershipsEuropeLaser Zentrum HannoverLasersNd:YAGlaser crystalsastronomyaerospaceGALACTIC consortiumTunable LaserssatellitesCoatingsAlexandritepulsed laserslasing performancelight speed

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