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Powering Lasers: Evaluating Bench Power Supplies

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Supplying power to a laser is delicate work because lasers are extremely sensitive and easily damaged. A single pulse of excessive current, lasting only a few microseconds, can overheat and damage the light-emitting facets of a laser diode. While a laser diode driver is the safest and most effective method for powering a laser, in some cases, a bench power supply may be an option. The answer depends on the application and on the performance of the specific bench supply in question.

Paul Corr and Patrick Klima, Arroyo Instruments LLC

A bench power supply should be thoroughly tested and characterized before it is used to power a laser. The quality of the controls and safety measures incorporated into a bench supply will need to be evaluated to determine whether it is suitable. The issues of bench power supplies 1) Dangerous current control A laser diode is inherently a current-sensitive device, requiring constant current to function properly. Figure 1 shows that a small change in voltage can result in large changes in current. When using a bench supply that is voltage controlled (only output voltage is...Read full article

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