29 Sep 2008
The first high-power eye-safe surface-emitting diode pump could be used for military, industrial and medical uses.
QPC Lasers has demonstrated the first eye-safe high-power 1.5 µm surface-emitting diode laser. The technology could lead to laser weaponry that combines the low cost of wafer-scale manufacturing with beams that are much less hazardous to the soldiers using them.
"QPC has developed a 45° turning mirror which steers the beam out of the surface of the chip," Yossi Gewirtz of QPC explained to optics.org. "This enables us to achieve the high power of conventional edge emitters with the very low cost structure of VCSELs."
The development is said to of key importance for high energy laser applications, because the technology enables the fabrication to be wafer based and extremely cost effective. "Fabricating the 45 degree turning mirror in the chip with high precision without beam distortion has not been achieved in the past," noted Gewirtz.
The breakthrough was made under a US Department of Defence contract to develop high-power eye-safe surface-emitting pumps for directed energy weapons.
QPC now intends to fabricate two-dimensional arrays of these lasers, which could lead to low cost, high power chip-based laser for industrial and medical uses, in addition to defence applications.
"We see great promise for eye-safe lasers in commercial applications such as welding and cutting, by eliminating the safety concerns and costs associated with existing industrial lasers such as YAG and fibre lasers," commented Jeffrey Ungar of QPC.