Researchers at Sparkle Optics (Rolling Hills Estates, CA) have demonstrated what they are calling the highest-power Q-switched laser ever developed-72.8 W of Q-switched power at 50 kHz in 69-ns pulses in ytterbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Yb:YAG). With applications in remote sensing, nonlinear optical conversion, and precision laser machining, the new rotary-disk laser can produce high average and peak power in a diffraction-limited beam.
For a rotary-disk laser, the gain material is rotated between two cooling plates, allowing the laser to be pumped at higher intensities without causing birefringence or thermal stress fractures. With a peak power of 21 kW, the 69-ns pulse width is a factor of 10 smaller than reported for thin-disk Yb:YAG lasers, with no bifurcation in pulse shape. There was no observable reduction in the reported slope efficiency of 50% at high power, indicating that the laser is scalable to even higher power levels. The team also reported 220-kW power levels for a Nd:YAG ceramic rotary-disk laser, comparable to values reported for Q-switched diode-pumped solid-state lasers. Contact Santanu Basu at [email protected].