Researchers develop high-brilliance infrared laser source

February 21, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Offering significant advantages over carbon dioxide lasers, diode-pumped high-power laser systems for material processing such as cutting and welding are playing an increasingly important role in industry. The IMOTHEB project, part of the Integrated Microphotonics initiative, aims at improving the performance of such laser systems and at the same time reduce production cost. Osram Opto Semiconductors coordinates the project activities.

Diode-pumped fiber lasers and fiber-coupled diode lasers are becoming more and more important for optical material processing. As they become widespread, however, the focus is shifting to the question of costs. Developments that increase the performance of laser systems and at the same time reduce production costs are therefore needed. Key components for infrared semiconductor laser diodes, which can be used to pump, are fiber lasers. They offer enormous potential for automating production and miniaturizing the systems. Increasing performance, for example, can lead to a reduction in the number of semiconductor chips needed.

The objective of the IMOTHEB project is therefore to investigate new approaches and technologies that may ultimately lead to significant reductions in the costs for the pump modules which include not only the semiconductor lasers but also cooling elements, optics and sensors. There are also plans over the course of the project to September 2015 to increase the output of semiconductor lasers by 40 percent while retaining the same high beam quality. IMOTHEB maps the entire value added chain from the semiconductor chip to the complete laser system. The project partners Osram Opto Semiconductors, DILAS, and the Max Born Institute each bring their own specific areas of expertise:

  • Osram Opto Semiconductors is coordinating the project and offering its know-how in semiconductors, laser diodes and laser bars; simulations are being subcontracted to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering.
  • DILAS is responsible for the assembly technology with improved thermal resistance and higher integration in laser modules, and also for automation in module production.
  • The Max Born Institute is acting as a scientific partner, analyzing and characterizing the chips and modules.

Osram Opto Semiconductors has set itself the goal of achieving a higher degree of integration on the semiconductor level, thereby increasing the brilliance of infrared laser diodes significantly. Microoptical and microthermal elements are therefore being integrated directly on the chip. It is hoped that this will