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Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics

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A new class of infrared semiconductor lasers

It’s hard to imagine many of today’s areas of science without laser technology. But for the infrared spectral range in particular for many applications there have been no suitable laser sources. Scientists working within the research project VERTIGO have now developed a new infrared semiconductor laser that closes this gap.

 

The basis of the new laser technology: a semiconductor chip for the wavelength range between two and thee micrometers, fitted in a special heat sink. Photo: Fraunhofer IAF
The basis of the new laser technology: a semiconductor chip for the wavelength range between two and thee micrometers, fitted in a special heat sink. Photo: Fraunhofer IAF
From basic materials development right up to the specific laser module: the prototype of a compact two-micrometer semiconductor disk laser. Photo: Fraunhofer IAF
From basic materials development right up to the specific laser module: the prototype of a compact two-micrometer semiconductor disk laser. Photo: Fraunhofer IAF

From cutting and joining materials in industrial production to surgery and diagnostics or telecommunication and consumer electronics, laser technology plays a decisive role. But there is continuous development, confronting researchers with new challenges. To make new applications possible, it is very important that new wavelengths ranges be exploited. For many applications, there have previously been no suitable compact and cost-efficient laser sources within the infrared spectral range above two micrometers.

Efficient, brilliant and versatile

That’s set to change: As part of the threeyear EU-financed project VERTIGO, researchers coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF have developed a new class of lasers for the infrared wavelength range between two and three micrometers – semiconductor disk lasers.

These efficient infrared lasers are real quickchange artists: They can be produced with any emission wavelength in the range from two to three micrometers. The core of this new laser technology is a semiconductor chip for this wavelength range fitted into a special heat sink. The mirror and the semiconductor element can be arranged in different ways which allows the laser to be adapted easily to the needs of specific applications. This development sets new international standards with regard to output power, efficiency and brilliance in a wavelength range that has been previously largely unexplored – underscoring Germany’s and Europe’s leading position in optical technologies.

Industrial implementation already under way

The German company LISA Laser, one of the VERTIGO project partners, will now develop and market new products based on this new type of disk laser. Innovative solutions within the area of optical sensors – such as the detection of wakes behind an aircraft as it takes off – and medical technology, such as a precise laser scalpel for use in surgery, should be available soon. Other applications are currently being tested with project partners and customers. Areas of usage range from medical diagnosis and environmental sensing to materials processing and optical communication.

Networked research in Europe, for Europe

In addition to Fraunhofer IAF, institutes and companies in the United Kingdom (Institute of Photonics, Glasgow), France (Alcatel-Thales III-V Labs, Palaiseau), Poland (Institute of Electron Technology, Warsaw) and Germany (LISA Laser GmbH, Katlenburg- Lindau) also participated in the project. The project partners saw the project through the entire development chain, from basic materials development to the application-optimized laser module. A total of 1.9 million euros was provided by the EU for this research project.

Contact:

Dr. Harald D. Müller
Phone +49 761 5159-458
harald.mueller(at)iaf.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF
Tullastrasse 72
79108 Freiburg
Germany
www.iaf.fraunhofer.de