October 10, 2013 | News & Notices Development of a Blue Direct Diode Laser, Providing Industry - Leading High brightness Levels - In a World's First, Machining by Blue Laser Is Now Possible -
Shimadzu has developed a blue direct diode laser, thereby providing industry-leading high brightness levels. The 10-W type will be placed on reference exhibit at InterOpto 2013 (October 16th to 18th at Pacifico Yokohama, Japan).
The world market for lasers in a material processing was worth $2.6 billion in 2010, but is expected to surge to $5.7 billion by 2020.*1 With machining lasers, in addition to conventional carbon dioxide lasers, diode-pumped solid-state lasers and fiber lasers are increasingly becoming commonplace. These lasers utilize semiconductor lasers as their pumping sources, and now direct diode lasers (DDLs), which use such semiconductor lasers directly for laser machining, have become a focus of attention as the next generation of laser machining light sources because they are compact, feature high-efficiency electro-optic conversion, and can be mass-produced at low costs.
In this context, development of higher output DDLs using near-infrared light is in progress. The realization of high-output semiconductor lasers that work at short wavelengths in the visible region, where the rate of absorption by metals is high, and that provide high brightness levels from which high beam intensities can be obtained, will accommodate diversification of machining materials and enable deployment to microfabrication, where demand is increasing with the miniaturization of smartphones and other electronic devices. Accordingly, the transition from carbon dioxide lasers and solid-state lasers to DDLs is expected to accelerate, with the commercial market expanding to the $0.5 billion scale by 2020.*2
Thus at Shimadzu, we have achieved a 16-fold increase in brightness over conventional levels for fiber-coupled blue semiconductor lasers, which feature high rates of absorption by metals. This has been achieved by utilizing newly developed optical multiplexing technology in addition to high-durability coating technology and techniques for precision assembly of optical equipment, cultivated to date, based on GaN semiconductor lasers utilized in Blu-ray Discs and projectors. As a result, we have developed the world's first blue direct diode laser, which features a microscopic spot size and can be applied to microfabrication.*3
The blue direct diode laser features a fiber coupling design that enables flexible laser beam delivering with high efficiency, even for kW-class output. Its power consumption is about one half that of solid-state green lasers, expanding the possibilities for laser machining instruments and processing instruments equipped with DDLs.
At Shimadzu, we have been focusing on establishing a light source industry for the next generation of advanced laser machining. In September of last year, we released the BEAM IMPACT series of external resonator-type short pulsed semiconductor lasers, a seed light source for fiber lasers. Furthermore, in April of this year, we released a high-output laser mirror and laser window, and are subsequently aiming for commercialization following on these.
Firstly, a 10-W model will be released in about January 2014. Afterward, 50-W and 100-W types and spatial output types will be developed to enhance the product line.
*1 & 2: Fiber Laser Report 2011, Optech Consulting
*3: In-house investigation, September 2013