European research initiative targets thin-disk lasers

A group which includes European research institutions and companies has launched an initiative aimed at technologies around semiconductor thin-disk lasers, also known as Optically Pumped Semiconductor-Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (OPS-VECSELS).

TAMPERE, FINLAND - A group which includes European research institutions and companies has launched an initiative aimed at technologies around semiconductor thin-disk lasers, also known as Optically Pumped Semiconductor-Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (OPS-VECSELS). Known as NATAL (Nano-Photonics Materials and Technologies for Multicolor High-Power Sources), the project is supported by the European Commission under the Information Society Technology priority of its Sixth Framework Program. The total budget is approximately 3.8 million Euros (US$4.6 million), which will fund research and development, field trials, and demonstrations over three years.

The project aims to develop compact visible and ultraviolet (UV) light sources for applications in nano and micro materials processing, medicine, RGB full-color displays, and UV lithography. The partnership includes laser specialists from the Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde (UK), OSRAM Optical Semiconductors in Regensburg (Germany) and Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), and is strengthened by experts in semiconductor growth from the Optical Research Center in Tampere (Finland) and the Technical University of Berlin (Germany). In addition, packaging, frequency conversion and system integration is included through the support of OptoCap (Livingston, UK), EpiCrystals (Tampere), and TOPTICA (Munich, Germany).

The group hopes to develop the technology into new wavelength regions, with up to 10 W power levels in the near-infrared range and 1 to 2 W in the visible. Specific wavelength targets include direct operation in the red (630-670 nm) and frequency-doubled VECSELs operating at 315-335 nm (ultraviolet), 470 nm (blue), 520 nm (green), and 610 nm (red/amber). The group explains that these wavelengths cover important absorption bands in a host of materials of significance to nanotechnology. The project will use the latest advances in the growth of semiconductor material, microoptics, and miniaturized system design and packaging.

The NATAL coordinator is Oleg Okhotnikov, ORC Tampere. More details can be found on the website www.orc.tut.fi/natal.html.

- Bridget K. Marx

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