High Performance Lasers

nLIGHT Achieves High Power and High Brightness by Using MOCVD Tools with Integrated Vacuum and Abatement

Vancouver, WA  May 26, 2006 BOC Edwards and Aixtron are delighted to have contributed towards nLIGHT’s recent success in achieving high power and high brightness laser devices. nLIGHT’s leading-edge laser technology combines a high level of performance and reliability. nLIGHT’s technology is based on proprietary laser structures grown by MOCVD, facet passivation technology and state-of-the-art solder processes. These innovative designs collectively result in highly reliable, long lifetime products with world-class performance.

nLIGHT produces the broadest range of diode lasers in the industry, with wavelengths ranging from 635 nm to 2000 nm, in its vertically integrated 60,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Vancouver, WA. In addition, nLIGHT has demonstrated a number of power and efficiency records including over 400 W from a 1 cm long 8xx nm Cascades™ diode laser bar equivalent to >60 mW/µm of emitting aperture. The 8xx nm Cascades™ product also exhibits excellent reliability with a MTTF in excess of 80,000 hours at room temperature.

The work is funded by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Super-High-Efficiency Diode Sources (SHEDS) program. nLIGHT has demonstrated record efficiencies with 76 percent single emitter and 73 percent diode bar efficiencies at 9xx nm. For the longer wavelength 1470 nm diode laser products, over 100 W and 50 percent efficiency have been achieved from single laser diode bars.

nLIGHT products enable industrial, defense, medical, graphics, and consumer applications. With its technology, nLIGHT can offer its customers an opportunity to differentiate themselves in increasingly competitive markets, while enabling performance and reducing overall costs.

Contributing toward this success has been Aixtron’s high-performance MOCVD reactor and BOC Edwards’ innovative Zenith III-V integrated pump and abatement system.

In a fast-moving, competitive cost-conscious market, flexibility, coupled with reproducibility is essential and these were key reasons for choosing Aixtron reactors. Another advantage has been the low consumption of source materials, keeping operating costs low.

A conventional configuration would have included a chilled phosphorus (“p”) trap to protect the on-tool vacuum pump, but nLIGHT decided to try a novel approach developed by BOC Edwards and exclusively available through Aixtron. This involves using a high-temperature vacuum pump that runs hot enough to prevent the condensation of phosphorus vapor, which results from the thermal decomposition of phosphine in the reaction chamber, without the need for a p-trap. However, this results in much higher phosphorus loading into the pump exhaust, therefore careful thermal management is required to prevent it from condensing and blocking the pipe. A highly capable gas abatement system is also required to treat the much higher exhaust load that now results.

Mike Grimshaw, Director of MOCVD at nLIGHT, said, “The Zenith system has all the bases covered. By close-coupling the vacuum and abatement system in conjunction with the heated lines, we have been running without a "p"-trap for several years now. This has resulted in lower downtime than would arise from a conventional exhaust system. The hydrogen is also treated in the thermal combustor, so we don’t have to rely on dilution of the exhaust gas for safety.”

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