History of Lasers

History of Lasers
History of Lasers

Recent developments in high powered lasers that make the technology feasible and cost effective today:

Diode Lasers

The last decade has seen a dramatic acceleration in power scaling of diode pumped lasers, breaking through 10kW from a single mode fiber in 2010 and the 100 kW barrier a few months later (Vaissie, L., 2010). Because of such attractive features as unsurpassed efficiency and low cost (compared to other near-infrared lasers), the compact and rugged diodes have carved out dominant positions in many laser applications (Gallup, K., et al, 2012).

Fiber Lasers

Starting in 2002, there has been an explosive growth in the output power that can be reached using fiber laser technology, propelling it into competition with other lasers for a wide range of industrial applications, including materials processing, aerospace, and defense.

Relative to competing technologies, fiber lasers benefit from compactness, efficiency, beam quality, and most importantly ready thermal management: “The heat generated in the fiber laser is generally dissipated over a long length of fiber, thereby reducing the risk of thermal damage” (Richardson, D. J., et al, 2004).

According to a 2009 report, fiber lasers have expanded the material processing market:

  • Reliability has been proven on multiple material processing applications at all power levels in production environments
  • The performance of fiber lasers exceeds previous laser technologies while offering substantial cost benefit to users (ALAW).

In 2012, 20 kW laser power delivered through a special optical fiber is being used in a hybrid laser-mechanical process to drill through hard rock.

100 kW fiber laser coming soon?

Costs

The feasability of laser technology appliactions lies in the fact that the evolution of high power fiber lasers brought about a startling drop in laser costs, from over $1,000/W to less than $50/W in just 15 years.

History of Lasers