Researchers exceed 10kW average power with ultrafast fibre laser

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Multi-beam modules can be used to increase the processing speeds of high-power ultrafast lasers. (Image: Fraunhofer ILT).

Researchers have developed an ultrafast fibre laser with an average power more than ten times that of current high-power lasers. 

The technology, which was presented at the recent virtual OSA Laser Congress from 12-15 October, could have applications in industrial-scale materials processing.

The new laser, reported in Optics Letters, is able to offer 10.4kW average power without degradation of the beam quality.

This is particularly impressive as for today’s high-power ultrafast lasers, the waste heat generated by lasers exceeding 1kW average power has been known to degrade the beam quality.

To circumvent this, the research team created the new laser by externally combining the output of 12 laser amplifiers. Thermographic imaging of the final beam combiner revealed only marginal heating. 

Related article: New Fraunhofer cluster of excellence to develop 20kW ultrafast lasers by 2022

According to the researchers, from the Friedrich Schiller University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF), power scaling to the 100kW level could be accomplished by adding even more amplifier channels.

In the future, high-power ultrafast lasers not only will accelerate industrial processing, but also enable formerly visionary applications such as laser-driven particle acceleration and space debris removal.

The investigation of novel applications at that power level as well as the transfer of the laser technology to commercial systems is ongoing within the frame of the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources, which foremost involves engineering of the laboratory setup into a rugged design. On the research side, the team in Jena now focuses on multicore fibres that offer the potential to deliver even superior performance in simpler and smaller systems.

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