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Diode makers ramp up output power

24 Jan 2006

Alfalight, nLight Photonics and Coherent reveal their latest achievements at day one of this year's Photonics West event in San Jose, US.

Photonic West's high-power diode laser session kicked off with US-firm Alfalight who unveiled details of a single-emitter at 970 nm with a continuous wave (CW) output power of 22W at 25degC. The company also reported on its progress towards reaching the 80% power conversion efficiency (PCE) goal outlined in DARPA's super high efficiency diode sources (SHEDS) program. Recent results include a PCE of 71% at 25degC from a 20% fill-factor bar with a 1mm long cavity.

Giving a flavor of things to come, fellow US firm nLight Photonics projected that there are no fundamental barriers to achieving a peak power of 1 kW from a single 1 cm diode laser bar. Having already demonstrated output powers in excess of 400 W from single 800 nm emitting bars, the company believes that advances in efficiency as well as reductions in the diode's operating voltage and the thermal resistance of its packaging will drive the output powers to higher levels.

Meanwhile in Europe, German firm Jenoptik claims to have broken the 500 W barrier with a 509 W cw 1 cm diode laser bar, which it announced last week. In August 2005, the company reported a cw output of 454 W and says that its latest figures are the result of improved mounting techniques.

Coherent took to the stage at the packed LASE session to present details of its work on high-efficiency, high reliability 9xx nm diode laser bars in both conductively cooled packages (CCP) and fiber array packages (FAP). Having developed 980 nm bars with a PCE of 71.5% in the lab, the company hopes to release 9xx nm 60W FAPs and 80-100W CCPs in the near future.

Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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