Scientists have developed a new diamond laser with a whopping 380 watts of power, making it 20 times more powerful than conventional laser pointers.
This great performance relies on a special diamond lens developed by scientists at the MQ Photonics Research Centre and the Fraunhofer Institute. Considering that previous diamond lasers topped out at about 20 watts, this 380-watt laser seems truly impressive.
Scientists are interested in developing diamond lasers because of their great potential — they can transmit power with little interference even over long distances. As such, diamond-based lasers could have notable applications in laser ranging, space applications (communication, as well as tracking and removing space debris), and would find use in weapons as well.
This newly developed diamond laser has a 1,240 nm wavelength — significantly longer than that of conventional red lasers, which typically range between 700 nm and 800 nm. A longer wavelength translates to less interference, as well as reduced risk to humans, with less damage to the retina.
The scientists used Raman conversion, highlighting the efficiency of circular polarization pumping, while also making it easier to achieve high-power optical isolation between the Raman laser and the pump.
"We achieved continuous-wave average power of 154 W with a conversion efficiency of 50.5 percent limited by backward-amplified light in the fiber laser," the scientists explained. "In order to prove further scalability, we achieved a maximum steady-state Raman-shifted output of 381 W with 61 percent conversion efficiency and excellent beam quality using 10 ms pump pulses, approximately a thousand times longer than the transient thermal time-constant."
The researchers note that no degradation or power saturation affected beam quality.
Improved manufacturing technique also played a huge role in this advancement, as scientists created the diamond for this laser artificially, in a lab. While this new diamond laser is already impressive, researchers believe they could tune diamonds to an even wider range of wavelengths in the future, further boosting their range of applications.
For now, this new diamond laser with 380 watts of power is able to easily cut through steel — painting a promising future for industrial cutting lasers.