A New Generation of Fiber Lasers

Ytterbium-doted fiber laser amplifier (Source: Fraunhofer IOF)

Ytterbium-doted fiber laser amplifier (Source: Fraunhofer IOF)

High performance fiber lasers have become essential in many industrial sectors, such as automotive industry. Their unique properties make them even more important for fields like micro material processing, medical and security technologies, as well as aesthetics. More than others, these applications require lasers with high performance and high precision. The application of lasers in industrial manufacturing processes also calls for compact lasers with high output and an improved beam quality, resulting in a growth in flexibility and speed. Consequentially production and process efficiency is improved. The perfect light source for these requirements is the fiber laser.

High performance laser fibers, in which laser light can be guided and amplified, are the heart of fiber lasers. The project “Exploration and Qualification of High Performance Fiber Laser Technologies” (Erforschung und Qualifizierung der Technologien von Hochleistungslaserfasern), short TEHFA, developed a special production process for laser-active double-clad fibers on a facility of Leibniz IPHT Jena and transferred it to an industry-grade facility at Fraunhofer IOF. Furthermore, high performance fiber-based components and compact laser modules have been presented. Together with high-power fibers they are basis for a successful development of monolithic fiber lasers of excellent beam quality and high efficiency with output powers in the kilowatt range.

During research novel physical effects and limits have been discovered. “At the moment thermal and thermo-optical effects set limits to the brilliance of high-power fiber lasers and the scalability of such systems”, explains Thomas Schreiber, coordinator of the joint project. Partners of TEHFA II, the new planned project, will focus on the challenge of overcoming these effects, to show new ways of building scalable fiber laser systems. “The planned research will provide an important basis for the production of critical components and the manufacturing of highly integrated fiber laser systems, binding the technology to a German location”.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF, will support the project for the next three years with a total amount of 1,3 million euros. Industrial companies contribute an amount of 1,4 million euros. Coordinated by Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF scientists from the Institute of Applied Physics, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena and the Leibnitz Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (IPHT) search for new solutions on fiber laser systems in cooperation with industrial partners such as Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik GmbH, Jenoptik Laser GmbH und AFS-Active Fiber System GmbH. (Source: Fraunhofer IOF)

Link: Fiber Laser Components, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, Jena, Germany • Inst. of Applied Physics, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany • Leibnitz Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (IPHT)


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