A diamond laser 20 times more powerful than previous diamond lasers has been demonstrated by researchers from the MQ Photonics Research Centre in collaboration with fiber laser experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. Previous average power levels were less than 20 Watts. The new laser now provides up to 380 Watts of output power, which is the equivalent of approximately 400,000 laser pointers and enough power to easily cut through steel.
Diamond, a relatively new material for creating laser beams, is quickly becoming a technology leader in terms of generating powerful, high-brightness beams at wavelengths, or ‘colours’, where traditional lasers are not able to shine.
What are diamond lasers used for? High-power diamond lasers are ideal for applications that demand beaming power over long distances, such as optical communications in space, laser ranging, and the tracking and removal of space debris.
Project lead researcher Dr Robert Williams said:
“Just as x-rays pass through flesh to enable us to see bones within a body, different colours of laser radiation can interact or be transmitted by different target materials.”
The wavelength of the new laser is 1240nm. This wavelength has high transmission through the atmosphere, and is safer to use because of its reduced transmission through the front of the eye and lower risk of damage to the retina.
Diamond lasers have progressed significantly over the last few years because of advances in synthesis of high quality diamond which is better than what can be obtained naturally.
Rich Mildren, Associate Professor in the MQ Photonics Research Centre, said:
“Diamond is an ancient material, yet only now many of its extraordinary properties are becoming evident. High power lasers is one such area that diamond looks like providing a major advantage.”
Solution In Need Of A Problem?
Added Thomas Schreiber, group leader for the fiber laser research at the Fraunhofer IOF Jena, Germany:
“Diamond crystals seems to naturally fit to high power fiber lasers. It’s interesting to see that such a development is now possible and I’m sure much exciting research will follow.”
Concluded Dr Williams:
“Around the time of its invention, the laser was famously labelled ‘a solution in need of a problem’, but now it has penetrated so many aspects of industry, science and our daily lives that the number of applications are countless. A key to unlocking many more applications of lasers will be the development of high-brightness beams at new wavelengths, and diamond is providing just that.”
Williams, R. J., Nold, J., Strecker, M., Kitzler, O., McKay, A., Schreiber, T. and Mildren, R. P. (2015)
Efficient Raman frequency conversion of high-power fiber lasers in diamond.
Laser & Photon. Rev., 9: 405–411. doi: 10.1002/lpor.201500032
Photo Credit: Dr Robert Williams /em>