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Ultrashort pulsed kW-class laser with unprecedented flexible GHz burst operation for high precision high-throughput industrial manufacturing

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - kW-flexiburst (Ultrashort pulsed kW-class laser with unprecedented flexible GHz burst operation for high precision high-throughput industrial manufacturing)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-12-31

The next generation of laser systems for material processing needs to deliver higher precision, throughput and, most importantly, an extreme flexibility. Current ultrafast laser technology has demonstrated applicability for enabling high precision micromachining. However current throughput is not efficient enough for widescale industrial manufacturing. The parameters of existing lasers are not flexible enough to consistently work in the optimal conditions necessary to reach the highest precision while using all available laser power. The kW-flexiburst project aims to develop a disruptive laser technology to help overcome this critical barrier, which could enable the next generation of manufacturing in a range of industrial sectors.
To achieve the project goals, kW-flexiburst, which stands for Ultrashort pulsed kW-class laser, will develop a high-power laser delivering bursts of ultra-short pulses with unique features. The system parameters can be arbitrarily adjusted in terms of burst repetition rate, intra-burst repetition rate, number of pulses per burst, pulse duration and relative intensities in the burst while maintaining 1 kW of average power.
The consortium partners have succeeded in developing two prototypes of highly flexible ultrafast laser sources. A first prototype delivers an average power of 10 W and its flexibility in terms of intra-burst repetition rate, burst repetition rate and number of pulses per burst was demonstrated and used for first proof-of-principle of laser micromachining. A second prototype was successfully developed and amplified with two high-power amplifier stages: a first bulk-amplifier increased the average laser up to 250 W with an exceptional beam quality facture(M²) of less than 1.05. The pulses were compressed down to ~1.8 ps. The second amplification stage, based on a thin-disk multipass booster, has already demonstrated more than 1 kW average power. The full system is at its final integration for the demonstration of several industrial-relevant material processing. Therefore,the project is expected to meet its objectives.
The flexible laser performance will be demonstrated in relevant industrial applications, which require high throughput/ high quality laser processing methods and therefore will benefit significantly from the high-average power and the tunable pulses provided by the kW-flexiburst system. The selected applications span a wide range of industrial fields from micro-structuring of metals, ceramics and other dielectrics, drilling of hard substrates and cutting of transparent materials. Each of them carries the potential for significant or even disruptive improvements of the related industrial production process by employing the kW-flexiburst laser technology in combination with the beam delivery concepts and process methods proposed by the project.
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