Semiconductor laser diodes have demonstrated remarkable performance in recent years.
They are also beginning to make inroads into applications traditionally reserved for other
laser technologies. Examination of the array of possible applications reveals the need for
two main categories of laser diode components. One is the diffraction limited, single
frequency laser with outputs from a few hundreds of milliwatts to 1 watt for communications,
scanners, data storage, etc. The other requires high power (tens to hundreds of watts) and
high efficiency for solid state laser optical pumps, illuminàtors, radar, etc.
This paper will examine the past and 'project future advances in semiconductor laser diode
performance and costs. In particular it will address the steps necessary to reduce high power
laser costs and expand the acceptance of these devices into the high volume applications.