Fiber lasers (FLs) not only dissipate thermal energy easily, but they won’t ever go out of alignment and are very rugged and compact as well. They share technology with a wide range of other laser types, come in a variety of forms and have their own pros as well.
What is a fiber laser?
Well, the fiber laser is simply a variation of the solid state laser. In order to emit laser light, the laser uses a dopant that’s mounted in the fiber’s central core, while the core structure can either be very complex or simple. When it comes to fiber lasers, it’s important to mention that surface to volume ratio is quite large, meaning that heat can be dissipated a lot easier.
Features of fiber lasers:
1. High powered.
2. Dual core structure.
3. High efficiency.
4. Ability to drill concrete.
5. Can be used in various scientific applications.
High-power fiber lasers
Fiber lasers are generally used in the industrial market for a wide range of applications and it seems that they are generally used in the automotive industry. In order to manufacture cars, the car industry started to use high strength steel and that’s because it helps them produce lighter, but also more durable vehicles. The only problem they have though is cutting high strength steel. Luckily, the use of high powered fiber lasers seems to help get the job done. Using regular machines for punching holes in this type of steel is difficult, but not for fiber lasers. Midwest Metalcraft can cut Mild Steel 1″ Plate to 26 GA, Stainless 1” Plate to 26 GA, and Aluminum .190 Plate to .030. Other material are to be reviewed on a job-to-job basis. Our lasers can also do etching if you would like to place part numbers, serial numbers, names, logos, the list goes on and on. Along with cutting we also have a high speed punch press for all kinds of metal materials.
For what concerns material processing, fiber lasers have definitive advantages over other types of lasers. For instance, metals absorb near IR wavelengths very well. Better yet, extreme power requirements can be easily satisfied by fiber lasers. The United States military currently has a high powered fiber laser in its arsenal that is able to shoot down drones, planes and other aerial systems.
FLs are very efficient
One thing you need to know about FLs is that they’re quasi 3-level systems. This is a very efficient system that can be exemplified by this very simple example: Using ytterbium with a pump photon of nine hundred and forty nanometers creates an emitted photon at one thousand nm-a (lost energy) of just nine percent.
When it comes to the structure of the fiber used in FLs, it’s undoubtedly very important. Fiber lasers can be either side pumped or end pumped. Regarding the process of end pumping, they work by firing light from 1 or more pump lasers directly into the end of the fiber. On the other hand, when it comes to side pumping, this process involves pumping light that’s eventually coupled into the outer core.
A four kilowatt multimode fiber lasers has already been used successfully for drilling and also cutting concrete. Why would a fiber laser be used for such applications in the first place? Well, it’s because it can be effectively used for developing buildings that boast higher earthquake resistances. In order for the building to resist strong earthquakes, rebar needs to be used. Percussion drilling though will only weaken and eventually crack the concrete, but fiber lasers can easily cut it with causing any fractures.
If you want, then you can also do surface machining on transparent materials. One example in this regard is the popular LASIK surgery where surgeons use a femtosecond pulse in order to breakdown the eye material at a specific depth, without damaging the surface. As a result, the cornea isn’t affected by the process. There are many other medical applications where femtosecond and picosecond fiber lasers are greatly used, including shallow penetration and OCT.
When it comes to the scientific applicants of femtosecond fiber lasers, they include general materials research, fluorescence spectroscopy (time resolved), and breakdown spectroscopy (laser induced). Even more, fiber lasers are also used for producing femtosecond frequency combs which are not only important in general research, but also metrology.
Easily generated frequency combs seem to have a very realistic near term application for atomic clocks. These will be used for Global Position System satellites and help in getting a much more accurate position resolution. This will be useful for knowing your exact position on the ground, but also for automated equipment, including tractors, cars, robots, etc.
All in all, fiber lasers have a wide range of applications that just keeps on increasing every year. In the future, they’ll be successfully used not only for military applications, but also for next generation industrial application as well.