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Single fiber laser hits 1kW output

28 Aug 2003

UK scientists have made a 1kW single fiber laser with a high beam quality.

Researchers at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronic Research Centre and its spin-off company Southampton Photonics (SPI) claim to have built a fiber laser with an output of 1 kW.

The ytterbium-doped fiber, which emits at 1090 nm, is said to have an M2 beam quality factor of approximately 3. This compares with an M2 of about 35 for a typical diode-pumped solid-state laser operating at around 1 kW.

The latest 1.5 kW thin-disk laser from Trumpf has an M2 of around 18 while Rofin-Sinar’s 750 W thin-disk source has an M2 of approximately 20.

The Southampton team also produced a 600 W output from their fiber laser in a single transverse mode. This equated to an M2 of 1.26.

Having developed it with funding from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), SPI now plans to turn the fiber laser into a viable product.

SPI chief executive David Parker said: “SPI will be commercializing the kilowatt laser for industrial and aerospace applications requiring compact, reliable sources.”

He added that the kilowatt fiber laser will be used as a building block to generate products for applications requiring even higher power levels.

SPI and its US rival IPG Photonics now both have high-power fiber lasers available. IPG has developed a 300 W ytterbium source with a TEM00 output and it launched a 10 kW average power industrial laser at the recent Laser show in Munich.

Michael Hatcher is technology editor of Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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