FIBRE-LASER PUMPED DIAMOND RAMAN LASERS FOR LIDAR AND CLEAR PLASTICS WELDING

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Inst of Photonics

Abstract

Diamond and fibre are a natural match that provides a platform to take high-power lasers into hitherto unattainable parameter regimes and to serve new applications. Though attractive in its simplicity, this area remains largely unexplored. Here, we propose a partnership that will enable high-impact applications through careful investigation of the underpinning device science. This will lead to fibre-pumped diamond Raman lasers with properties tailored to applications in LIDAR and clear plastics processing. We aim to lay the foundations for this to become the preferred approach for a number of important laser applications.

Fibre lasers are the laser of choice from medicine to materials processing thanks to their reliability, low cost of ownership, proven performance, and outstanding power scalability. While moderate laser parameters and standard wavelengths suffice for many applications, many more require better beam quality, narrower linewidths, specific wavelengths, or well-controlled high-energy pulses - but still at hundreds of watts of output power. Fibre lasers can only rarely simultaneously satisfy these requirements. In this project, we aim to overcome these generic limitations of fibre sources by employing diamond to shift fibre lasers further into infrared via stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) with simultaneous brightness enhancement and, in the case of pulses, spectral narrowing towards the transform-limit.

The UK is established as a world leader in fibre laser research and has played a leading role in pioneering the use of diamond in Raman lasers. Both fibre lasers and diamond are recognized as being superbly power scalable thanks to superior optical and thermal properties. Our approach will harness the advantages of fibre systems - efficiency, compactness, and reliability - while modifying their output to better address key industrial challenges. While the combination of fibre and diamond is a platform solution that can address a wide range of wavelength-specific applications, especially in the near IR range, in this project we aim to prove the technology in two areas that are important for our industrial partners. This proposal will deliver a new type of laser that is uniquely capable of the combination of power, brightness, spectral purity and wavelength required for industrially important applications in LIDAR and clear plastic processing.

Planned Impact

It will be vital for the project to engage with a wider industrial audience to ensure potential beneficiaries can access the outcomes of the project and feed into it. Trade press articles will be written - for Laser Focus World and Photonics Spectra internationally, and the magazine of the Association of Industrial Laser Users in the UK. The team will also present to industrially-orientated fora: both those oriented to laser firms (e.g. Photonics West) and the end-users (e.g meeting of the European and American wind energy associations). These will complement a workshop organised by the team at the end-point of the project. The team will also give presentations on company premises, building on recent well-received talks at Selex, Coherent, Element Six, M Squared Lasers and Thales.
The key objective of the impact plan is to build the team required to deliver economic impact. This engagement was at the core of the programme from the beginning. The required partners were identified by the investigators and they then played a key role in shaping the proposal to address systems-level requirements and market pull. At the component level, the key elements of the supply chain are covered by SPI Lasers, a fibre laser supplier, and Element Six, a diamond grower. At the technical level, the combination of the ORC and IoP teams provides coverage of the key technologies in fibre and Raman lasers. At a systems level, SPI Lasers and Thales Optronics already operate in the target markets of materials processing and LIDAR respectively. An active role for these firms is built into the work programme to ensure systems orientated requirements are addressed.
For the clear plastics processing strand, the team will work with SPI Lasers to build a proof-of-principle demonstrator that can be tested at the SPI test facility. On the LIDAR side, Thales has identified the compatibility of the laser design and component choice with the environmental demands on a LIDAR system as the critical hurdle to economic impact. Hence, the team will use Pathways to Impact funding to bring in specialist expertise from the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) to analyse these aspects, with systems level input from Thales, and feed this back into the experimental design. Modelling and roadmapping using CAP's specialist facilities and expertise, in concert with systems-level guidance from Thales, will ensure the research passes through the 'gates' that UK industry typically applies to decide if a technology is sufficiently mature for it to pick up. This will put the coalition in a strong position to apply for industry-led funding (e.g. Innovate UK) to move towards the development of a fully engineered demonstrator. Subsequent to successful demonstrations of critical function, roadmaps for maximising impact will be prepared with input from all the relevant partners.
 
Description The viability of the approach for LIDAR has been show in joint test at Southampton and work is underway to scale to higher repetition rates. A proof of principle demonstration of a system for plastics welding has been made at Strathclyde and preparations for transfer to Southampton for fibre laser pumping test as underway.
Exploitation Route We have three company partners: Element Six (diamond materials), Thales Optronics (LIDAR systems), and SPI Lasers (Fibre lasers and materials processing). We have approaches in place to ensure technology transfer, working with these partners (in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in the case of lasers for LIDAR).
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy

 
Title Data for "Sub-100 ps monolithic diamond Raman laser emitting at 573 nm" 
Description The names of the *.dat files correspond to figure numbers in the manuscript and the parameters modelled. The first row in each column indicates the axis name in the figure. The second row in each column indicates the units. The third row in each column indicate the focal distance of the lens in mm. These datasets are the results of modelling carried out in the University of Strathclyde. There are total 3 data files. These were created for the purposes of the European Research Council (278389, 727738); UK EPSRC (EP/P00041X/1, EP/L015315/1); Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd.; Royal Academy of Engineering 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Data for: "Energy scaling, second Stokes oscillation and Raman gain-guiding in monolithic diamond Raman lasers" 
Description The names of the *.dat files correspond to figure numbers in the manuscript. The first row in each column indicates the axis name in the figure. These datasets are the results of experiments and modelling carried out in the University of Strathclyde. There are total 24 data files. These were created for the purposes of the European Research Council (727738); UK EPSRC (EP/P00041X/1); Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd.; Royal Academy of Engineering 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact
 
Description Industrial Partners Directly on the Project 
Organisation De Beers Group
Department Element Six
Country Luxembourg 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research team has been developing laser technology that exploits diamond from Element Six Ltd and will be applied to end applications (LIDAR and plastics welding) which are markets or potential markets for Thales and SPI.
Collaborator Contribution Element Six (De Beers Group): Supply of unique diamond samples. Materials science expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. SPI: Expertise and access to equipment in during the development and testing of lasers for plastics welding. Fibre laser expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. Thales: Expertise on robust laser design. Expertise on LIDAR requirements. Industrial oversight of the project.
Impact Impact is still developing and will be updated as the project progresses
Start Year 2016
 
Description Industrial Partners Directly on the Project 
Organisation SPI Lasers UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research team has been developing laser technology that exploits diamond from Element Six Ltd and will be applied to end applications (LIDAR and plastics welding) which are markets or potential markets for Thales and SPI.
Collaborator Contribution Element Six (De Beers Group): Supply of unique diamond samples. Materials science expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. SPI: Expertise and access to equipment in during the development and testing of lasers for plastics welding. Fibre laser expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. Thales: Expertise on robust laser design. Expertise on LIDAR requirements. Industrial oversight of the project.
Impact Impact is still developing and will be updated as the project progresses
Start Year 2016
 
Description Industrial Partners Directly on the Project 
Organisation Thales Group
Department Thales Optronics Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research team has been developing laser technology that exploits diamond from Element Six Ltd and will be applied to end applications (LIDAR and plastics welding) which are markets or potential markets for Thales and SPI.
Collaborator Contribution Element Six (De Beers Group): Supply of unique diamond samples. Materials science expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. SPI: Expertise and access to equipment in during the development and testing of lasers for plastics welding. Fibre laser expertise. Industrial oversight of the project. Thales: Expertise on robust laser design. Expertise on LIDAR requirements. Industrial oversight of the project.
Impact Impact is still developing and will be updated as the project progresses
Start Year 2016
 
Description Industrial partnership additional to project but resulting from it 
Organisation Elforlight Limited
PI Contribution Extension of the work on the grant to visible generation for biomedical applications.
Collaborator Contribution Loan of components and lasers. Expertise to set the market driven targets for the experiments.
Impact Impact still developing.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Spectroscope Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Assisted with a "Spectroscope Workshop" for primary school children. Assisted with a workshop for school children organised and led by Dr Carol Trager Cowan of the Dept of Physics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017