Southampton University developing next generation of high-power fibre lasers

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The University is hiring a new research fellow as part of a five-year project looking to move beyond ‘fixed’ fibre lasers currently used in manufacturing. (Image: ORC)

The University of Southampton is recruiting a research fellow for the development of novel wavelength fibre lasers.

The hiring is part of a five-year project to move beyond ‘fixed’ fibre lasers currently used in manufacturing, towards ‘smart’ fibre lasers that are automatically reconfigured and optimised in real-time depending on the application. 

‘Standard multi-kW fibre lasers are now routinely produced by manufacturers worldwide and are widely used in the most advanced production lines for cutting, welding, 3D printing, and marking of a myriad of materials from glass to steel,’ said Dr Ben Mills, who wrote the application.

He continued: ‘The ability to precisely control the properties of the output laser beam and to focus it on the workpiece makes high-power fibre lasers (HPFLs) indispensable to modern manufacturing. As we enter the Digital Manufacturing/Industry 4.0 era however, new challenges and opportunities for HPFLs are emerging.’

The project, led by Professor Michalis Zervas, looks to develop fibre lasers across three wavelength regimes of industrial interest, namely the 2µm wavelength band (~1,850nm to ~2,100nm), the green wavelength band (~540 nm) and wavelengths in the UV band

‘Scaling average power in these wavelength regimes is a significant challenge, but, if successful, will bring huge benefits to industrial laser processing due to enhanced absorption in a wider range of materials,’ Mills remarked. ‘This project will require strong practical expertise in either solid state or fibre optic laser development, ideally in the development of thulium fibre lasers and nonlinear frequency conversion techniques.’

In particular, the project is looking to achieve the following research breakthroughs across the spectrum of fibre laser development:

  • Development of new fibre core materials

  • Addressing limits imposed by stimulated Brillouin scattering and thermally induced mode instability

  • High-speed beam and polarisation shaping 

  • Multi-channel kW level energy delivery

  • Using deep learning to solve the complexity challenge associated with coherent beam combination

The successful applicant will join a project team of eight postdoctoral research associates over the five-year project to deliver the next generation of HPFLs. They will have access to the state-of-the-art Zepler Institute Cleanroom Facilities and be led by a team of world-leading experts in the fibre laser and deep learning domain.

More information on the new position can be found here.

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Laser technologies will have to continue to evolve to keep up with the need of the electronics industry. (Image: Shutterstock/raigvi)

20 September 2022