Replacing Traditional Gas Lasers with Solid-State Lasers

Lasers used to be considered too highly specialized and costly to be useful anywhere other than in the laboratory. However, the devices have since become smaller, more reliable, and less expensive, which has led to lasers being broadly adopted in applications ranging from surgery to welding, as well as in industries like the military and aerospace. Presently, small, powerful, cost-effective solid-state lasers have taken the place of conventional gas lasers in many systems.

Exciting Lasers

There are five broad subgroups of lasers: gas, liquid, plasma, semiconductor, and solid-state. A solid media is used by both semiconductor and solid-state lasers, but in solid-state lasers this medium is usually created from crystal, glass, or ceramics. This material functions as a host to which a dopant is added, which is typically a rare earth metal. This ionic material is subsequently excited by optical pumping to create the light that drives the laser.

Solid-State Lasers Provide Big Power in a Small Package

For a long time, air-cooled argon lasers have been successfully employed in a broad range of applications. However, solid-state devices are growing in popularity. Significant progress has been made in producing novel emission wavelengths and tunable sources of laser radiation from these devices.

At present, the power, accuracy, and beam quality of solid-state lasers are equal to that of argon lasers. Although argon lasers have a predicted lifespan of 10,000 hours, preliminary results show that solid-state lasers may provide double that. This could result in them being a more cost-effective option in the long term.

Furthermore, solid-state lasers are more rugged and dense than gas lasers, which makes them perfect for use in several applications, including in medical devices. The greatest benefit, however, could be how energy efficient they are.

An air-cooled ion laser usually uses a kilowatt or more of power to create 10 to 20 mW of blue light. The energy requirements of solid-state lasers are typically recorded in the tens of watts or less. Solid-state lasers can also be encoded to emit ultrashort pulses, which also substantially increases their efficiency and performance.

From Welding to Surgery: The Many Uses of Solid-State Lasers

Solid-state lasers are currently being adopted in a broad range of industries and applications. In production and materials processing, they are used for welding, as well as in marking, drilling, and cutting operations. In the medical field, they can be used for fragile procedures, for example skin treatments and tattoo removal, or as a scalpel in tumor ablation and laser eye surgery.

The military and aerospace industries are using solid-state lasers for weapon systems and as detonation devices. These versatile devices are also utilized to carry out research in particle physics, material science, and nuclear power.

Fiberguide Industries Offers a Powerful Link for Solid-State Laser Applications

As solid-state laser technology progresses, increasingly more applications will make use of these devices. For more than 30 years, Fiberguide Industries has been a reliable, long-term, strategic partner with OEM manufacturers - offering efficient, cost-effective, practical fiber optic solutions that are designed to meet their particular requirements. Fiberguide is pleased to be part of the solid-state laser revolution by providing High Power Assemblies that apply High Power SMA and FD-80 connectors to facilitate a fiber optic link between the laser source and the target.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Fiberguide Industries.

For more information on this source, please visit Fiberguide Industries.

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