High Performance Lasers

nLIGHT Demonstrates 73% Wall-Plug Efficiency

Vancouver, WA  January 24, 2006 – nLIGHT, a leading manufacturer of high-power semiconductor lasers, today announced that it has achieved 73% wall-plug efficiency from 1 cm, 980 nm micro-channel diode laser bar with 100 W continuous-wave (CW) output power. The achievement is a significant milestone in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Super-High-Efficiency Diode Sources (SHEDS) program.

“Achieving 73% wall-plug efficiency is a step forward for the diode laser industry. Funded under the SHEDS program, our work on high-efficiency diode laser structures could lead to dramatic improvements in the performance and reliability of commercially available high-power diode lasers,” said Jake Bell, nLIGHT’s VP Defense Group.

Since diode lasers convert electrical power directly into photons, the electrical power that is not converted to light is deposited as waste heat in the diode laser structure. This excess heat is one of the leading causes of device degradation and limits the maximum output power. Today’s commercially available diode lasers in the NIR range typically exhibit 50% wall-plug efficiency.

“73% efficiency is a new benchmark for the industry that is attracting significant attention from a broad range of markets,” said Joe DeBartolo, nLIGHT's VP of Sales and Marketing. “High-efficiency diode lasers are more reliable, require less power, and significantly reduce the load on the cooling system.” nLIGHT’s new high-efficiency diode laser technology has culminated in the commercial release of the company’s >65% efficient diode laser products, for materials processing and medical applications, or to pump a wide range of other sources, such as diode-pumped solid-state lasers, fiber amplifiers and fiber lasers.

In 2003, DARPA invited nLIGHT and seven other partners from industry and academia to participate in SHEDS with the ultimate goal of creating high-power diode lasers that are 80% efficient. By late 2006, the project is looking to deliver 480 W, 80% efficient diode laser stacks operating at 50 °C for pumping solid-state lasers.

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