What are Ultrafast Lasers?
Ultrafast lasers produce extremely short pulses of light; usually on the order of pico- or femtoseconds. Relying on techniques such as mode locking to create a train of pulses, ultrafast lasers owe their recent success to relatively new developments in photonics. These advancements in laser technology enable the production of pulses ranging between a few femtoseconds to tens of attoseconds.
These ultrafast pulses foster the direct investigation and manipulation of atoms and electrons, thus extending the frontiers of science and technology to territories that were previously inaccessible.
Lasers operate on two general principles: light amplification using a gain medium and feedback ensured by a cavity. As light is amplified in the excited gain medium, an intense laser beam is created to the feedback of the cavity, which is partially transmitting. Ultrashort pulses are produced when light waves with a large number of modes/integer multiples of half the light’s wavelength are coherently emitted through their in-phase superposition, also known as mode locking.
Applications of Ultrafast Lasers
Over the last thirty years, ultrafast laser development has continued to generate interest and activity. In addition, a number of techniques to generate ultrashort pulses have been developed over the years. The accessibility of ultrafast lasers has meant a broad range of physical, chemical and biological phenomena have been investigated using ultrafast optical spectroscopy and additionally investigations of the practical applications of ultrafast technology.
Ultrafast lasers can also be used for requirements in the automotive industry such as the structuring of small grooves into the surface of the cylinder wall of a combustion engine. This ensures a thorough distribution of lubricant along the piston wall and minimizes the friction losses of the engine.
These lasers can be employed to produce exhaust gas sensors. These sensors have a ceramic layer and can measure the exhaust gas properties faster and more precisely than conventional sensors. These sensors optimize combustion control, enabling reduction of emissions.
Ultrafast lasers can perform high-quality micromachining of brittle materials such as glass, where they are frequently employed for scribing and cutting with high quality edges and flexible geometries. These features have led to a breakthrough for ultrafast lasers in the mass production of displays for portable devices such as phones and tablets.
Ultrafast lasers have also been used in the medical field for the production of coronary stents, used as an alternative to bypass operations. To achieve improved biocompatibility, Mg-based alloys or special biopolymers should be used. These materials can suffer from problems in stent production as they react strongly to thermal loads. However, ultrafast laser micromachining can overcome these issues by producing minimal debris and having a small heat affected zone.
Laser Quantum (Novanta) Ultrafast Lasers
Laser Quantum (Novanta) specializes in femtosecond and picosecond laser technology with ultra-short pulses, high repetition rates, and application-based systems that offer unique capabilities and benefits to a wide variety of applications.
The taccor one is a unique turn-key femtosecond laser with integrated pump source in a hermetically sealed cavity. It can deliver more than 1.6 W of average power with pulse durations <60 fs. It can be supplied with any chosen wavelength between 740–920 nm and is self-mode-locking and stabilizing.
The dart is a picosecond laser solution, typical 8 ps pulses, with reliable, repeatable operation to ensure precision in a multitude of applications. It has exceptional beam circularity of > 93% and range of models with average power between 4–45 W at both 532 nm and 1064 nm wavelengths.
To request more information or a quotation for Laser Quantum products, contact IL Photonics.