Inexpensive ceramic laser has uses in cutting and engraving composite materials

July 28, 2016
A newly developed compact ceramic laser will have utility in cutting and engraving composite materials, among other uses.

A team of researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT; Moscow, Russia) and collaborators has developed a compact, powerful ceramic-based laser that will have utility in cutting and engraving composite materials, among other uses.

Related: What can lasers do with composites?

Ivan Obronov, a researcher at MIPT, and his colleagues from the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia) and the company IRE-Polus (Fryazino, Russia) used a ceramic obtained from compounds of rare-earth elements—lutetium oxide with added thulium ions (Tm3+:Lu2O3). It was the thulium ions that enabled the ceramic to generate laser radiation.

"Ceramics are a promising type of medium for lasers because they are produced by sintering powders into a polycrystalline mass. They are cheaper and easier to manufacture than single crystals, which is extremely important for mass adoption. In addition, it is easy to alter the chemical composition of ceramics, which in turn alters the laser properties," Obronov explains.

The laser they have developed converts energy into radiation with an efficiency of more than 50% (other types of solid-state lasers have an average efficiency of approximately 20%), and it generates infrared (IR) radiation with a wavelength of about 2µm (1966 and 2064 nm).

Widely used 1µm lasers are useful for cutting metal, but polymers are practically transparent to them. A 2µm ceramic laser, on the other hand, can effectively cut and engrave plastics, such as composite materials that are increasingly being used to produce technological equipment such as aircraft, Obronov says. For example, the wing of the new Russian MS-21 airplane is almost entirely made of composites, he adds.

An additional utility for the laser could be laser surgery, as radiation from common 1µm lasers has very little absorption and penetrates deep into biological tissue, causing coagulation and large areas of dead tissue. Because a surgical scalpel needs to operate at a very specific depth, 2µm flashlamp-pumped holmium lasers are used since they do not damage underlying tissue, Obronov says—but they are expensive and somewhat bulky. The research team's ceramic laser, however, is less expensive to produce and four times more compact than holmium lasers.

Full details of the work appear in the journal Optics Letters; for more information, please visit

About the Author

Industrial Laser Solutions Editors

We edited the content of this article, which was contributed by outside sources, to fit our style and substance requirements. (Editors Note: Industrial Laser Solutions has folded as a brand and is now part of Laser Focus World, effective in 2022.)

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Precision Motion Control for Sample Manipulation in Ultra-High Resolution Tomography

April 10, 2024
Learn the critical items that designers and engineers must consider when attempting to achieve reliable ultra-high resolution tomography results here!

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!