Lasers are everywhere – from laptops to satellites, they are a vital part of modern life.
The power and compact nature of fibre lasers means they are great for industry, but now French firm Quantel is looking to take them into a whole new spectrum of applications.
“We work on a new generation of lasers based on fibre optics. So the laser is produced in the optical fibre. It delivers a great beam quality, lots of power and it’s easy to use and transport.
We’re trying to develop visible light lasers that are really powerful, with different colours, greens, yellows, reds, for use in medical applications,” says Fibre laser engineer Mathieu Jacquemet.
After months of work the researchers here in Brittany have begun to perfect coloured fibre lasers.
“We work in ophthalogy, so everything to do with retina correction. So we need colour to penetrate the eye, so we need power to be able to achieve what we call a process of photocoagulation, to be able to correct the fault in the retina,” says the R&D manager David Pureur.
Finding the right colour wavelengh is just one step – the engineers also need to combine high power with a finely concentrated beam. So, what’s inside?
“In this type of fibre laser we have several key components. The first is this kind of laser. And then, to transform the infrared light of the fibre laser into a visible beam, we focus the laser on these non-linear crystals, which allow us to transform the infrared light of the laser into visible light,” says Jacquemet
As Quantel develops its products, it is working with other high-tech partners in an EU project on fibre lasers.
“We bring together people who develop components such as the fibre optics, people who develop pump diodes, people who develop special crystals, and the interest is to work along the whole integration chain so that we at Quantel, who assemble the parts, have a better specification than our competitors. Today fiber lasers reach several tens of thousands of watts in a tiny little fibre, and that will continue to go up,” says Pureur.