Blue-emitting laser gets ready for market

Aug. 1, 1997
Two years of development have resulted in a commercial blue-emitting microchip laser from New Lambda of Clearwater, FL.

Two years of development have resulted in a commercial blue-emitting microchip laser from New Lambda of Clearwater, FL. The device emits 50 mW at 473 nm.

Company founder, Yutaka Shimoji, started New Lambda intending to mass-produce lasers. "It has always been in my heart," Shimoji says, "to produce a low-cost, good-quality, mass-market laser." The bridge to mass production is the microchip. The company has developed three diode-pumped solid-state blue-emitting lasers using microchip technology (see Fig. 1 on p. 36).

The laser cavity is produced by adhering two different crystals to each other to create a wafer. Thus, Nd:YAG and potassium niobate (KNbO3), for example, produce the 473-nm laser. Alternatively, for emission at 457 nm, Nd:YVO4 and KNbO3 are used, orfor 430 nmchromium-doped LiSAF and KNbO3. The wafers are then cleaved into microchip lasers. Each chip is an individual monolithic laser cavity and is pumped directly by a diode laser.

Quiet cavity design

Although other companies are doing something similar, their lasers exhibit 5% to 10% noise, says Shimoji. He claims that the cavity design of the New Lambda devices produces a lower noise output. The New Lambda laser does not directly double the diode output; instead it uses intracavity frequency doubling of the solid-state device. The laser can be operated in single longitudinal mode, which means better long-term stability, lower noise, and excellent beam quality (see Fig. 2).

"This can compete with gas lasers," says Shimoji, "and potentially can be manufactured at a low price." If microchips are purchased in bulk, Shimoji predicts that he will eventually be able to sell a laser for between $400 and $600, although the introductory price of the 473-nm device will be between $2000 and $3000. "We are talking about high-volume production," Shimoji says. "The lasers must sell at a low price to open up the market."

The 457-nm and 430-nm lasers will be launched in the near future. Potential applications include biomedicinesuch as diabetes monitoringand specialized erasable optical disks. "One can only imagine what we can do with a small, low-cost, diode [type] laser," says Shimoji.

The company recently applied for a patent regarding use of the microchip lasers for curing certain polymers. New Lambda is currently a four-person company with numerous investors. Shimoji hopes to take the company public within the next six months.

About the Author

Laurie Ann Peach | Assistant Editor, Technology

Laurie Ann Peach was Assistant Editor, Technology at Laser Focus World.

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