More than 5,200 technical presentations in addition to various industry panel discussions will be held alongside the Photonics West exhibition in San Francisco. The symposium is expected to attract an international audience of more than 20,000.
Conferences are organised into tracks on biomedical optics (BiOS), industrial laser sources and applications (LASE), and optoelectronics and photonic materials and devices (OPTO).
A highlight for the industrial laser sector includes a talk by Berthold Schmidt, CTO of the business unit Trumpf Laser Technology and CEO of Trumpf Photonics, on 31 January, titled ‘Advanced Industrial Laser Systems and Applications’.
The industry programme will also include talks on laser sources, nonlinear optics and beam guiding, micro and nano applications, and macro applications. The LASE 2018 Symposium Chairs include Reinhart Poprawe from the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology ILT and Koji Sugioka from Ricken.
Prism award finalists
The 2018 Prism awards, which recognise innovative product inventions within the optics and photonics field, will also be taking place for the 10th time in 2018. Winners will be announced on 31 January at a gala banquet during Photonics West.
The three finalists in the materials processing and additive manufacturing category are Chinese firm Han’s Laser, Germany’s Limo, and Colorado-headquartered Nuburu.
Han’s Laser was selected for its multi-axis and high-precision UV laser system for PVD ablation processing, which is designed for manufacturing smartphones. The system features a Draco series sub-nanosecond UV laser with up to 10W output power at 100kHz, as well as a four-axis motion control system with 1.5m/s speed, 1g acceleration, and 2µm positioning accuracy.
Limo was highlighted for its Activation Line UV-L750 beam shaping solution, which offers a 750mm line length at 341-353nm for use in mass OLED production in the flat panel display market. The Activation Line offers fast process speeds, high process efficiency and high productivity through simultaneous large-area processing along the laser line. The homogeneous intensity distribution of the line beam profile ensures uniform and consistent high-quality process results.
Nuburu’s chosen AO-150 CW laser features a modular design that combines individual 450nm diode lasers to produce 150W of blue output power in a high-quality optical beam. The output wavelength of the laser matches the absorption curves for several common metals such as copper, enabling both quantitative and qualitative enhancement in materials processing applications.
‘It is a great honour to have Nuburu nominated along with the many excellent innovators in this year’s Prism award programme,’ commented Mark Zediker, CEO of Nuburu.
Alphanov will be displaying a new picosecond laser oscillator. The Pocket-size Ultrashort Laser Source (PULS) offers a monolithic solution for seeding ultrafast laser amplifiers and for applications in multiphoton imaging, laser micromachining and biophotonics.
PULS covers a large range of wavelengths. It delivers linearly polarised laser pulses with a nearly Fourier-transform limited pulse duration and a tuneable repetition rate in the 20-70MHz range.
UK company Applied Laser Engineering will exhibit its laser engraving systems used to engrave high resolution 2D and 3D graphics into the surface of cylindrical and flat substrates.
Machines range from 0.6m to 7m roller length capability and up to 1m diameter. Laser type and wavelength is application or material specific. Materials processed include metals, ceramics, rubber, and natural and synthetic polymers. Engraving systems for ceramic anilox are a speciality.
Fraunhofer ILT will show new laser optics with diamond lenses that its researchers developed along with the Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and Production Technology IPT. The optics came out of a research project in which Fraunhofer IAF optimised the production of monocrystalline diamond, while Fraunhofer IPT worked on ultra-precision tools for machining diamond surfaces. It is now possible to produce diamond substrates with diameters as wide as 10mm.
Diamond’s refractive index is very high at 2.4. It also conducts heat remarkably well. These properties enable engineers to scale laser optics down to much smaller dimensions. The laser cutting head developed at Fraunhofer ILT is 90 per cent lighter than comparable conventional components with glass lenses.
The diamond lenses and a 1kW fibre laser underwent an initial set of successful trials in 2017. This combination was able to cut 1.5mm stainless steel without any difficulties. Now the team is working on an upgrade to achieve higher performance. Project manager Martin Traub said: ‘Individual components have been tested for 2kW, but we're particularly interested in 4kW.’
Fraunhofer ILT will also have information about the BRIDLE project, an initiative to develop fibre-coupled diode lasers, which was completed in 2016. The team built a demonstrator that successfully coupled five wavelengths from different emitters on one bar into one 35µm fibre. Its output power is 46W, but various options allow for further scaling. Another system with around 800W output from a fibre with a core diameter of 100µm has also proven its merits in cutting tests.
There will also be work from the Future Laser System project, or FULAS for short. The FULAS platform features space-grade components and semi-automated assembly technology. The FULAS demonstrator passed environmental qualification tests conducted in Airbus Defence and Space's climate chamber. Researchers are now developing and building the beam source for the MERLIN mission.
Jenoptik will show a motorised beam expander, 1x to 8x, designed for industrial use. The beam expanders cover wavelengths of 355nm or 1,030nm to 1,080nm. The expansion can be adjusted continuously from 1x to 8x using software commands in order to change the spot size on the workpiece.
The divergence of the laser beam can be precisely adjusted to achieve tolerance compensation in the entire system, for example to compensate for thermal effects. Controlling the divergence also makes it possible to change the position of the working plane, for instance for 3D processing. Both features – automatic magnification and focusing – help to reduce setup times.
Thanks to an innovative frame concept the beam expanders are compact and robust. The lenses do not rotate during focusing or magnification, but are moved within a linear guide, resulting in excellent beam stability. The optical system is designed in such a way that a diffraction-limited image quality is achieved across the entire expansion range.
The motorised beam expander is a perfect match for Jenoptik’s F-theta lenses and can be used in a large number of beam guidance systems. It is used in the production of microstructures and for marking and labelling different materials.
Laserline will exhibit a hybrid laser with up to 20kW output power. The hybrid high-power diode lasers combine a classic diode laser with the high beam quality of an active fibre converter laser. The lasers are designed for job shops, as well as for deep welding or additive manufacturing.
The Laserline hybrid laser combines an LDF diode laser with up to 16kW output power with an LDF converter laser with up to 4kW output power and high beam quality of 8mm*mrad. The system is based on the modular design of Laserline high-power diode lasers. It offers the following three operating modes: a classic diode laser mode with a wide spot width, a beam-optimised converter laser mode, and a hybrid mode with combined use of both beam qualities.
Ophir, part of MKS Instruments, will be showing its Beam Squared M2 laser beam propagation system. A robust, portable device, Beam Squared measures the propagation characteristics of CW and pulsed lasers in less than one minute. It can optionally measure wavelengths above 1.8µm, including CO2 and terahertz, in manual mode.
Beam Squared is designed for continuous use applications, including scientific research, rapid prototyping, fabrication, and machining. The system includes the Beam Squared M2 software and an optical train. The software measures beam propagation characteristics on both the X and Y axes, including waist diameters, full angle divergences, waist locations, Rayleigh lengths, M2 or K and BPP factors, astigmatism, and asymmetry. The system displays 2D or 3D beam profiles for visual verification of beam behaviour through focus.
French firm Spark Lasers will release its Diadem femtosecond laser. The laser produces femtosecond pulses variable from 400fs up to 10ps with an energy of 40µJ, an average power of 30W, and at repetition rates ranging from single pulse up to 2MHz.
The new generation of industrial, high-energy femtosecond laser offers a compact, robust, lightweight and air-cooled package. The laser has a two-connector interface and an intuitive graphic user interface. Pulse-on-demand, burst of pulses, gating and energy modulation can all be set by the user.
For applications requiring very precise synchronisation, such as high-speed scanners, the company offers its Ultra-Sync tool whereby laser pulses can be synchronised to any third-party to an accuracy of less than 100ps up to 2MHz repetition rate.