NKT Photonics delivers fiber lasers for 20 kW spectral-combination project

Oct. 17, 2019
Aiming to produce a high-beam-quality 20 kW laser source for defense, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition spectrally combines light from 12 lasers made by NKT Photonics.

On September 11, 2019, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition (Munich, Germany) announced the successful test of a 20-kW laser source based on the spectral combining of 12 fiber lasers supplied by NKT Photonics (Birkerød, Denmark). The core of the laser source consists of 12 narrowband fiber-laser modules with nearly diffraction-limited beam quality. In the spectral coupling unit, the individual beams from the laser modules are coupled to form a single combined beam via a high-precision dielectric grid, or grating. The 12 high-power lasers are based on NKT Photonics’ industrial and space-qualified Koheras single-frequency laser platform.

The advantages of the dielectric-grid coupling method include minimal performance dissipation, maintenance of the beam quality of the individual beams in the combined single beam, and scalability to higher performance levels by adding to the number of coupled laser modules, according to Rheinmetall.

Aiming for 100 kW
Over the next two years, it may prove possible to gradually increase the beam output of the laser source to 100 kW, says Rheinmetall. Initial tests conducted in 2012 indicated that a key element, the dielectric grid, could handle outputs of up to 100 kW.

“The results from the projects were achieved in a very short time frame and demonstrate the robustness and scalability of our high-performance fiber-laser platform,” says Thomas Oldemeyer, senior VP of NKT Photonics’ Aerospace & Defense division.

Aerospace and defense applications, like the current project with Rheinmetall, are among the most demanding in terms of performance and requirements on robustness in a harsh environment. For such applications, fiber lasers are ideal, as the monolithic design is inherently robust and scalable. NKT Photonics says that, as a vertically integrated fiber laser manufacturer, it can tailor the lasers to the application all the way from the raw glass going into the fibers to the final design of the laser.

“NKT Photonics is proud to be the selected partner in this project, and to further support our growth ambitions in the Aerospace and Defense industry, we will continue to invest in our production facility in Germany,” says Basil Garabet, CEO and president of NKT Photonics.

Both parties aim to create the 100 kW volume- and power-optimized laser source within the next two years.

Rheinmetall is collaborating with missile-systems company MBDA Deutschland (Schrobenhausen, Germany) in the high-energy laser effectors domain. The two companies intend to construct, integrate, and test a laser demonstrator for the German Navy’s corvette K130 (an oceangoing fast-attack craft).

For more info on the spectrally combined lasers, contact Thomas Oldemeyer, Senior VP Aerospace & Defense, at [email protected].





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About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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