Making 2-micrometer femtosecond lasers suitable for industrial use

To expand the application areas of femtosecond (fs) lasers, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) works together with the Jena-based company Active Fiber Systems GmbH on an innovative and compact 2-µm fs fiber laser system.

In recent years, fs-lasers have become an indispensable tool for applications in many fields. They are used, for example, in the micromachining of materials such as metals or ceramics. These lasers emit in the wavelength range around one micrometer, have pulse energies in the microjoule range, and pulse durations of a few 100 fs. They are now state-of-the-art in industrial environments.

However, large innovative application fields cannot be addressed with 1-µm lasers, or only inadequately. These include, for example, the 3D structuring of polymers or silicon (Si) for Si-based photonics and thus the production of micro-electromechanical systems for sensors. In this spectral range, the materials are non-transparent, and cannot be processed below the surface with currently available systems.

For these important future markets, fs lasers with wavelengths around two micrometers are needed. However, these have by no means reached the technological maturity and reliability of 1-µm systems. The project partners now want to change this within the IKARUS project. The 2-µm fs fiber laser system shall enable pulse durations of less than 500 fs at pulse energies of 50 µJ in a compact design - a beam source not previously available on the market.

The project "IKARUS - Innovative 2 µm ultra-short pulse beam source of high pulse energy for materials processing" is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi; grant no.: 16KN053068). Project partners are the LZH and Active Fiber Systems GmbH, Jena.