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Blue fiber laser targets life sciences

09 Oct 2003

A visible fiber laser emitting 10 mW at 491 nm will be on sale by the end of the year.

German optical component maker unique-m.o.d.e says it plans to launch a singlemode fiber laser emitting 10 mW at 491 nm by the end of 2003. The so-called up-conversion fiber laser will be targeted towards life-science applications.

The current workhorse in life sciences is the argon-ion laser. However, this laser is known to have disadvantages such as its size, weight, electrical-to-optical conversion efficiency and lifetime. Unique-m.o.d.e says its fiber laser has been specifically designed to overcome these drawbacks to offer: “50 times higher efficiency, 5 times smaller footprint, 20 times smaller volume and a significantly reduced cost of ownership.”

According to Albrecht von Pfeil, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, the 490 nm laser uses a praseodymium-ytterbium-doped fiber pumped by a 850 nm single mode diode laser. “The active singlemode fiber absorbs the pump light, which is then transformed into a shorter wavelength by a multi-photon process,” he explained.

Having teamed up with the Institute of Laser Physics at Hamburg University and a German instrumentation company, unique-m.o.d.e’s technology roadmap also includes fiber lasers emitting at other visible wavelengths.

“Other wavelengths are 635 nm, 520 nm and multi-wavelength systems where the laser wavelength can be switched for example between 635 and 491 nm,” Pfeil told Optics.org. “This would replace an argon-ion and a HeNe gas laser with one source.”

Currently better known as a supplier of high-power diode laser modules, this new fiber laser expands unique-m.o.d.e’s offerings into an area that has seen plenty of activity recently. In August alone UK-based SPI unveiled a 1 kW fiber laser emitting at 1090 nm and US-based IPG Photonics developed a 30 W device emitting at 775 nm.

“Establishing the visible fiber laser business is a further important milestone in unique-m.o.d.e’s strategy to form a diversified optical components operation,” said Pfeil. “It is our strategy to establish two or three business units that operate in different markets.”

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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