DARPA Picks Alfalight for SHEDS

Alfalight selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the Super-High-Efficiency Diode Sources (SHEDS) program

October 6, 2003

2 Min Read

MADISON, Wis. -- Alfalight, Inc. (Alfalight), an innovative technology manufacturer of highly efficient, reliable high-power diode lasers, today announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the United States Department of Defense, has awarded Alfalight $3.9 million in Research and Development funding under the DARPA Super High Efficiency Diode Source (SHEDS) program, with options that could result in a total $5.3 million award. The SHEDS program will investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in semiconductor diode laser bar efficiency.

--SHEDS: 80% Electrical-to-Optical Efficiency in 36 Months--

Currently, diode bar-pumped solid state laser systems have an overall electrical-to-optical power conversion efficiency, or "wall plug" efficiency, as low as 10%. This means that a 100kW laser, for example, would require 1,000kW of electrical power and would produce 900kW of heat. This heat significantly limits system performance and reliability. The wall plug efficiency of the semiconductor diode lasers used in this type of system is the largest contributor to overall system wall plug efficiency, and improving the efficiency of the semiconductor diode laser will greatly increase the possible output power and reliability of these laser systems. Alfalight's Aluminum Free Active-region (ALFA) diode laser bars currently achieve over 50% wall plug efficiency, which represents the best efficiency in the industry today. The goal of the SHEDS program is to increase diode laser wall plug efficiency to 65% in the first 18 months of the project, with a target of 80% in the following 18 months.

"Alfalight has already dedicated significant research and development resources toward improving diode laser efficiency, and DARPA's SHEDS program is the ideal opportunity for us to take our technology to the next level," said Tom Earles, co-founder and chief technical officer of Alfalight. "Funding from DARPA will enable us to enhance our technology to build better diode laser products for the defense industry."

"I am very pleased to see a local Wisconsin firm selected for this research and development contract," said U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). "I know Alfalight and its capabilities, and also understand the critical need to increase efficiencies in both diode lasers and their manufacture. Alfalight and its employees should be very proud of their cutting-edge technology that allowed them to win this contract. Wisconsin's high technology industry is growing, and Alfalight is helping lead the way."

Alfalight Inc.

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