Technology & innovation

Marchmont’s focus on innovation: LPI’s next gen laser diodes

7 Sep '11
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor

At Moscow’s Lebedev Physical Institute researchers are pushing the boundaries of laser diode power. Next gen diodes operating in a 1,060nm spectral range have been created, clearing the way for increasing power to 15 or even 20W and making the product an efficient tool for sectors from metal-cutting to medical surgery and nuclear energy.

In a major move towards expanding semiconductor laser technology scientists from Moscow’s Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LPI RAS) have developed powerful laser diodes operating in a 1,060nm spectral range.

According to the LPI’s Viktor Bezotosnyi, preliminary tests have revealed the new diodes’ “high efficiency, the reproducibility of watt-ampere characteristics, and increased reliability. Eleven lasers have been exposed to life tests at an output capacity of 8W and none has recorded any loss of power over a period of 100 hours. On the contrary, applying the improved technology of heat-removing elements metallization, we saw some of the diodes produce an output power in excess of 10W at 10A pumping current—record-high efficiency for unremitting operation mode in the 1,060nm spectral range.”

60% market share

The laser diode is a solid laser using a semiconductor as a working medium; the latter is a crystal based on multiple-layer nano-dimensional semiconductor heterostructures.

Modern laser diodes use a tiny 0.1x0.5x3mm semiconductor chip to create safe, low-voltage power. Extremely versatile, these diodes reportedly account for an estimated 60+% of the world’s laser production.

From oncology to mechanical engineering

Beefed up to 10W, next gen laser diodes can be used as a source of laser emission for wide variety of sophisticated medical instruments used in gynecology, oncology and other vital areas.

The new laser diodes are also expected to make a substantial difference in other sectors, including optical data storage and transmission systems, mechanical engineering (welding and cutting of automobile, rail car and ship bodies, hardening of materials, laser cleaning and surface modification), nuclear energy (using high-powered laser diode modules for isotope separation and energy generation through controlled laser fusion synthesis), microbiology, defense programs and navigation equipment.

The advanced laser diodes can also be used as laser emission simulators for solid 1,047-1,064nm range lasers—a much less costly substitution for solid lasers in this spectral range.

The developer

The Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LPI RAS) is one of Russia’s largest and oldest scientific and R&D centers, tracing its history as far back as 1724 when it started out as the so-called Physical Cabinet at Russia’s first museum of anthropology and ethnography—Peter the Great’s famous Kunstkamera in St. Petersburg.

It was re-founded in 1934 as a modern establishment in fundamental and applied physics, focusing on special lasers, transportable optical frequency standard, ozone distribution, the structure of solar atmosphere, and others. Special attention has been given to nanostructures and superconductivity.

Among the LPI’s most notable scientific discoveries are the Vavilov-Cherenkov effect, the phase stability principle, and fundamentals for controlled thermonuclear fusion and quantum generators.

Growing basic science into the 21st C

The most recent invention caps a series of multi-year efforts led by the LPI’s department of neutron physics and aimed at increasing the output capacity and service life of laser diodes of various spectral ranges.

LPI and its partners have increased the unremitting output capacity of a lasing emitter to 8-10W while, most importantly, boosting its service life to more than 5,000 hours.

Now the Institute is exploring a whole new area of laser chip efficiency, working to increase it from today’s 50% to as much as 65% and more in the very promising 805-808nm and 915-980nm wavelength ranges.

Another major research focus is looking for more effective ways of withdrawing high-density heat from the working laser medium. If successful, scientists hope the power of a single laser diode will be augmented to a reported 15-20W.

Yet another avenue of research is using artificial diamonds grown with the so-called ‘plasma-CVD’ technique to increase efficiency.
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Locations: Moscow

Tags: Lebedev Physical Institute (9) / laser diode (1) / Viktor Bezotosnyi (0) /

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