Enhanced laser diodes with superior beam quality
Lasers emit radiation as a beam and are used widely in manufacturing, medicine, optical fibre communications and data storage, to name only a few. Both low and high-power laser diodes exist, but large portions of the high frequency components of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum were previously unattainable and yet critically important to focusing of the beam. These limitations rendered the laser diodes inferior for use in many novel and demanding technologies. Researchers initiated the Brightlight project to develop cost-effective mass production technology to control spatial and temporal coherence of laser diodes for a new generation of laser diodes with superior beam quality. In addition, the project team sought to produce frequency-converted laser systems able to cover large portions of the high frequency EM spectrum previously unattainable. The scientists focused on the use of volume Bragg gratings (VBGs) in photorefractive materials, essentially acting as optical filters to produce a very narrow emission linewidth. Brightlight demonstrators successfully controlled spatial and temporal coherence, exhibiting both frequency stabilisation and frequency doubling. Thus, the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) partners found new and advanced applications for their photoreactive materials and produced enhanced laser diodes. Commercialisation of the Brightlight concepts and mass production of the trendsetting laser systems has the potential to reinforce Europe’s competitive position in the global optical technology market with important impact on European SMEs.