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SPI Single-Fiber Laser Breaks kW Barrier

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SOUTHAMPTON, England, August 27 -- Southampton Photonics Inc. (SPI) and the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) announced today what they call a major breakthrough by demonstrating over 1-kW output in a high-quality beam (M2 value approximately 3) from a single-fiber laser.

The team, led by Johan Nilsson and Yoonchan Jeong of the ORC and Ray Horley of SPI, achieved the result in an ytterbium-doped fiber laser operating at 1090 nm. They said the laser exhibited significantly improved beam quality compared to conventional high-power lasers and to previously reported large-core multimode fiber lasers. The new laser also exhibited extremely high efficiency (80 percent) relative to the launched diode-laser pump power, they said.

The team said they also demonstrated a record 600 W of output in a single transverse mode (M2=1.26), as a further indication of the potential of fiber lasers to combine high beam quality and output power.

David Parker, SPI's CEO, said, "SPI will be commercializing the kW laser technology for industrial and aerospace applications requiring compact, reliable kW sources. We also anticipate that lasers with this level of performance will be utilized as standard building blocks for even higher-power applications."

The work was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under its high-power fiber laser program.

The M2 value is an indication of beam quality, with unity being a diffraction-limited beam. Few lasers achieve this level of perfection. High beam quality is important in many applications where precise control of the laser beam parameters, such as working distance, depth of field and spot size, is required, SPI said.

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Aug 2003
defenseindustrialNews & Features

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