Material comfort

June 1, 2012
Two recent and successful trade shows have highlighted the breadth of applications that rely on photonics.
Conard Holton2

Two recent and successful trade shows have highlighted the breadth of applications that rely on photonics. SPIE Defense, Security + Sensing in April put the spotlight on military and security applications at its new venue in Baltimore. CLEO, held in San Jose in May, had a broader photonics reach with an emphasis on research applications. Larger in market value than both of these application areas is materials processing, which is on display at LASYS in Stuttgart in June. This trade show again demonstrates the benefits of laser-based materials processing to industries as diverse as automotive manufacturing, construction, energy, and the life sciences.

Several articles in this issue explore this topic, beginning with the use of ultrafast lasers to improve the efficiency of CIS thin-film solar cells. The article, written by Gerhard Heise and colleagues at the Laser Centre of the Munich University of Applied Sciences and solar module maker AVANCIS, describes how they have achieved a record efficiency for CIS modules (page 39).

An article by contributing editor Jeff Hecht covers beam-combining techniques developed at places such as MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Northrop Grumman, TeraDiode, and the University of Central Florida (page 50). And an article by Michel Bégin and Bertrand Morasse at CorActive shows how a fiber laser based on an ytterbium-doped glass matrix offers advantages for pulsed-laser materials processing (page 43). Finally, Marco Arrigoni and colleagues at Coherent show the advantages of Q-switching and modelocking for pulsed lasers in applications ranging from medical imaging to industrial processing (page 29).

For an even deeper understanding of lasers and materials, we will gain new insights into high-energy-density systems and ultra-intense light/matter interactions when the SCARLET laser in our cover story goes on-line this month (page 15). The laser at Ohio State University will be aiming for 500 TW/15 J/30 fs pulses, making it one of the most powerful lasers in the world.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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