Alfalight begins development of wavelength-stabilized high-power laser diodes for $3.8M contract from Air Force Research Laboratory

October 26, 2004

3 Min Read

MADISON, Wis. -- Alfalight, Inc., a technology innovator and manufacturer of highly efficient and reliable high-power diode lasers, today announced that it has received a research and development contract worth $3.8 million from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. This 18-month research and development contract will enable Alfalight to develop a high-power multimode diode laser whose output wavelength will be highly stable against changes in temperature, drive current, and manufacturing variations.

The results of this contract are expected to have a significant impact on both commercial and defense laser designs by enabling innovative pumping schemes and reducing overall laser system cost. A broad class of commercial laser types, including fiber lasers and amplifiers, diode-pumped solid-state lasers, analytical lasers, and lasers relying on spectral-beam combining techniques will benefit from pump sources with a stable and well-defined wavelength.

“This contract from AFRL is a testament to Alfalight’s continued success developing innovative diode laser technology,” said Tom Earles, Chief Technical Officer of Alfalight. “Wavelength-stabilized high-power lasers will lead to fundamental advances in diode-pumped laser performance.”

“This technology will benefit a range of both government and industrial applications, most notably fiber laser and high-energy laser architectures,” said Mike Vigil, AFRL program manager.

“Congratulations go to Alfalight on this award,” said Representative Tammy Baldwin (WI/2 - D). “Success in this development effort holds, in particular, great promise for a wide range of commercial applications including industrial welding and cutting of materials, micro-machining, and semiconductor processing, where the expected increased laser performance and reduced system costs will be critical.”

“I am pleased to see this vote of confidence by the Air Force Research Laboratory in a Wisconsin company,” said Senator Herb Kohl (WI - D), a member of the key Senate Appropriations Committee. “This effort builds on Alfalight's previous successful development programs; the achievement of this project's goals will lead to improved laser performance and innovative new types of laser systems, and holds the promise of increased jobs and market share that will greatly benefit the company and the State.”

Wavelength Stabilization Technology Improves Performance

Alfalight will add optical grating feedback within a high-power multimode diode laser cavity. The holographic grating will stabilize the wavelength and narrow the linewidth of the light emitted by the laser. Because the stabilization method will be an integral part of the manufacturing process and will define the output wavelength with much greater precision, manufacturing yield can be improved without significant incremental cost.

This capability will allow design engineers to precisely pump narrow absorption lines in rare-earth-doped solid-state and fiber lasers with little or no active temperature control. Based on the contract, Alfalight will initially focus on the important 976 nm wavelength required to pump the narrow transition in ytterbium-doped fiber lasers. The same method can be applied to other wavelengths in the future.

Additional contract partners for this effort include the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Nuvonyx, Inc. (Bridgeton, Mo.)

Alfalight Inc.

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