Fiber lasers products have been developed at JDS Uniphase with up to 25 Watt cw output power and diffraction limited beam. Similar fiber lasers have been demonstrated with over 100 Watt cw output power. The fiber laser is based on an all fiber optic cavity with no free alignments or possibility for contamination resulting in a reliable laser cavity. A distributed pump architecture based on an array of 3-5 Watt fiber coupled pumps provides redundancy for reliability. The unpolarized, fiber delivered, compact and direct modulated fiber laser sources are ideal for a range of applications including material processing, marking and reprographics. Moreover the pump source has applications in material processing as well. The advantages of the fiber laser are illustrated in marking system.
High brightness, high average power, diode pumped Nd:YAG solid state lasers (DPSSL) are being developed by TRW as part of the Precision Laser Machining Technology Reinvestment Program. The use of diode pump arrays in place of flashlamps, and zig-zag slab geometry, allow lasers to be scaled to power beyond the current generation of lamp-pumped rod lasers while providing excellent beam quality. The efficiency is 3 - 4 times better using diode arrays in place of flashlamps resulting in less waste heat in the laser medium and reduced optical aberrations. The corresponding beam quality provides more than an order of magnitude increase in the average intensity available at the workpiece, thus enabling new machining capabilities.
Several kW-class solid-state lasers at TRW are described with an emphasis on the performance modeling used to aid development of high brightness operation. Comparisons of results and analysis are presented for key aspects of high power, diode pumped, Nd:YAG lasers and amplifiers that use zigzag slab configurations to minimize thermal effects. Devices described include multi-kW power oscillators suitable for high power machining, welding, and material processing; and phase conjugated master oscillator/power amplifiers (MOPAs) which provide short pulse, high brightness beams for active tracking, photolithography, or remote sensing. Laboratory measurements are in good agreement with predictions of diode pump profile and absorption efficiency; slab extraction efficiency and thermal load; and slab OPD.
Numerous government and commercial applications of diode pumped solid state lasers (DPSSL) are emerging making it a true dual use technology. Military applications include countermeasures, remote sensing ,targettracking, and lidar. Civilian space applications include lidar for wind measurements and other remote sensing needs. Use of laser machine tools for manufacturing is growing rapidly for welding, cutting, drilling, and surface treatment applications. DPSSL technology has advanced rapidly due to government funded efforts and through corporate research programs. Power scaling to the 3-10 kW level is at hand. The technology has matured to the point that both military and laser manufacturing applications are becoming practical.