News | November 19, 2009

Cooperation Agreement On The Research Project 'FALKO' Was Signed

Source: CeramOptec Industries Inc.

High-power fiber lasers for applications in industrial material processing such as cutting and welding have been intensely investigated over the past few years. During this time, fiber lasers with optical output powers in excess of 2kW and excellent beam quality have become commercially available.

These high optical output powers do not yet include a compact, easy-to-align, low-maintenance hybrid or monolithic infrastructure ("all-fiber" concept). The search for such solutions is an essential objective of the INLAS research program which is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

In the framework of the research project "Components for multi-kW fiber lasers - FALKO", for which a cooperation agreement was signed recently and which will last until March 31, 2012, the project partners will develop and investigate beam combiners, optical isolators, fiber switches, and beam delivery fibers for the transmission of laser radiation with excellent beam quality. These components will be designed specifically for fiber lasers that are high-power laser sources with excellent beam quality.

In order to make complete use of the fiber laser's advantages, waveguides are required that transmit laser radiation to the work piece without losing beam quality and that emit beam profiles (e.g. "flat top") which are matched to the specific application. The beam switches being designed will allow for the direction of fiber-laser radiation to different working stations.

Fiber-coupled optical isolators are not available for single-mode laser radiation at kW power levels, but they are of great importance for some applications in industrial material processing. For example, power instabilities or even damage of the fiber laser or its pump sources might occur during the processing of materials like brass or copper due to the high reflectance of these materials.

Mode strippers are of great importance when using high-power fiber lasers as they eliminate light, which is guided within the cladding. The removal of these modes of light improves the processing results and avoids damage to the processing head that can be caused by poor beam quality.

Each project partner, Fraunhofer-Institute for Laser-Technology (ILT), Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT), FEE GmbH, LEONI Fiber Optics GmbH, Rofin-Sinar Laser GmbH and CeramOptec GmbH, has many years of experience in the development and production of (fiber) optical components, packaging and their integration into industrial material processing applications.

Throughout the world, the Fraunhofer-Institute for Laser-Technology (ILT) is among the most important institutes for contract research and development in its area of expertise. In the department "Lasers and laser optics", innovative laser sources for different applications such as material processing and climate research are developed and new laser concepts are brought to marketability. The fiber-laser group's contribution to "FALKO" includes the complete infrastructure which is necessary to run a high-power fiber laser: new methods to manufacture fiber preforms, further development of beam combiners and all-fiber optical isolators.

Light takes the center stage of the research and development activities at the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) in Jena. Since its founding in 1992, the institute does cutting-edge research that is recognized worldwide. The expertise of the research department "Optical fibers and fiber applications" is in the field of technologies used for guiding light: special optical fibers, passive and active fiber optical components and fiber modules as well as fiber optical sensor systems. Thus, IPHT's work packages include the development and realization of active and matched passive fibers and fiber bragg gratings for high optical powers.

The Research Institute on Mineral and Metallic Materials - Jewels / Noble Metals - GmbH (FEE) was founded in 1989 within the circuit of the Ministry of Economics, Transportation, Agriculture and Viniculture of Rhineland-Palatinate and currently employs a staff of 41 persons. The research and development in the institute focuses mainly on the development of new laser crystals and nonlinear crystals. In this framework, preparation technologies of crystalline materials are continuously developed and improved.

LEONI Fiber Optics GmbH is a member of the listed LEONI group, which is a supplier of wires, optical fibers, cables and cable bundles throughout the world. In Jena, LEONI Fiber Optics produces fiber optical switches for different applications, ranging from measuring techniques in telecommunications to laser-assisted metrology and production automation. In the framework of the "FALKO" project, LEONI Fiber Optics will develop fiber optical switches to handle high optical powers in material processing applications.

Hamburg-based Rofin-Sinar Laser GmbH is an affiliate of the listed ROFIN-SINAR Technologies Inc., which is one of the world's market and technology leaders in laser technology. At its site in Hamburg, powerful CO2- solid-state, diode- and q-switched lasers for industrial macro material processing are developed and produced. Rofin-Sinar Laser GmbH will participate in the research project by developing free-space and all-fiber-beam combiners and as a system integrator.

CeramOptec GmbH, a member of listed biolitec group, develops, manufactures and distributes innovative fiber optics for medical technology, analytics and industrial applications such as material processing. In the framework of the "FALKO" research project, new fiber-laser compatible optical glass fibers with special core/clad structures, beam combiners and mode strippers for high optical powers will be realized and investigated.

About CeramOptec GmbH:
CeramOptec is a world leader in the production of specialty optical fiber and fiber optic-based products for industrial, scientific, medical, and dental applications. CeramOptec manufactures high quality specialty optical fiber, bundles, and spectroscopic accessories with unmatched delivery times.

CeramOptec produces stock and custom silica /silica, plastic-clad silica, and hard polymer-clad silica optical fibers; fused capillary tubing; DPSS lasers; diode modules; and low loss bundles and assemblies for UV, VIS, and IR transmission, medical laser delivery, sensors, plasma fusion, and spectroscopy.

SOURCE: CeramOptec Industries Inc.