08 Jun 2009
UK laser maker Powerlase will be using the LASER exhibition to showcase what it claims are "the highest-power green lasers available commercially".
Two products with average output powers of 100 and 200 W at 532 nm have already been released, and another offering with an average power level of 400 W is now available for pre-order.
According to Mike Mason, vice-president for technology at Powerlase, the lasers were developed at the request of a particular client, and one of the biggest challenges was to optimize the beam quality for the application. "The new lasers were originally developed for a specific fibre-delivered application where the beam parameters out of the fibre were very tricky to achieve," Mason told Optics & Laser Europe. "We needed to modify the cavity and optimize the fibre in-coupling to achieve the required output parameters."
The diode-pumped solid-state lasers produce green light via frequency conversion from an infrared laser. The two existing products, the Starlase 100G and the Starlase 200G, offer a repetition rate of 30–50 kHz and a pulse duration of 140 ns. The 200G is made up of two polarization-multiplexed 100G cavities, while the prototype 400G laser is based on the 200G but incorporates larger components such as gain modules.
The two main applications for the lasers will be in automotive part shaping and solar-cell manufacture. Both applications require high average power and repetition rate to achieve fast throughput, as well as low divergence to ensure that the output from the fibre integrates correctly with customers' machines. As well as solar-cell manufacture, the 400G version was developed for a displays application.
Mason says that the new lasers are based on the company's existing AO2G green laser, which operates at a lower repetition rate of 10 kHz. "We started off with an AO2G, and modified the cavity configuration to increase the repetition rate and improve the beam quality," he explained. "When developing the cavity for green conversion, it's always a challenge to get the required performance without damaging the components."
As a result, a great deal of modelling was needed before the cavity was built to ensure that the laser would deliver the required performance, and that the output parameters wouldn't degrade over time. Rigorous performance testing once the demonstration model was complete confirmed the long-term reliability of the laser design.
Despite the demanding requirements, the Powerlase team was able to deliver the first 100G prototype within five months of taking the project on. The second demonstration unit was shipped four months later, and a fully functioning production version was delivered to the customer for integration into a 24/7 manufacturing facility just 14 months after the project started.
According to Mason, the initial response from customers has been very positive, with multiple machines already installed in solar-cell and automotive manufacturing plants. And he puts that success down to a combination of engineering expertise and a focus on customer requirements. "The UK is strong in photonics, but the Powerlase team is particularly strong," he said. "We have excellent engineers that work very well together under tight time pressures. We pride ourselves on delivering exactly what the customer wants, when they want it."
Powerlase is exhibiting at LASER World of Photonics in Hall B1, booth 419.