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Friday, January 21, 2005
Laser diode makers push power envelope

With no strong up turn in sight for the telecoms market, Bookham and nLight target a host of other applications for high-power lasers.

Bookham Technology and nLight are launching high-power laser diodes at the Photonics West exhibition, which runs 22-27 January in San Jose, CA.

The companies are targeting applications including materials processing, medical treatment, and providing the pump source for other solid-state, fiber and disk lasers.

Bookham?s 120 W multimode laser, which was developed at its Zurich, Switzerland, facility, is claimed to be the most powerful commercially-available continuous wave (CW) diode laser bar in the world. Standard products emit at 915, 940 and 980 nm.

?We are confident that the high brightness and reliability of our industrial laser diode bars will continue to attract new customers and accelerate the growth of diode-pumped laser systems,? remarked Greg Smolka, Bookham?s VP of sales and marketing, commercial products.

Bookham?s laser diode bar is suitable for applications as diverse as multimode pumping of cable TV amplifiers, as an optical pump for frequency-doubled lasers operating in the visible range, marking and printing, hair removal, and inter-satellite communication.

US-based nLight?s diodes are aimed at similar markets, and although they are less powerful, they cover a wider spectral range.

According to the company, its 1-cm-wide water-cooled ?Cascades? bars provide 50, 60, 80, or 100 W of CW power at 790-980 nm, and 20 W of CW power at 1435-1570 nm.

The Cascades range is based on nLights?s proprietary MOCVD-grown structure that produced a diode with a CW output power of 364 W (see related story), and which was developed under the DARPA-funded super high efficiency high-power diodes (SHEDS) program.

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