ISLA project aims to expand applications of 2-micron fiber laser technology

Dec. 6, 2011
Somerset, England--Optical and systems manufacturer Gooch & Housego has launched a EU-funded FP7 project, for which they are serving as the lead partner.

Somerset, England--Optical components and systems manufacturer Gooch & Housego has launched a EU-funded FP7 project, for which they are serving as the lead partner. The kickoff meeting for the €4.5 M collaborative project, titled “Integrated disruptive components for 2 μm fiber lasers” (ISLA), was held at Trinity College, Dublin, in Ireland in October.

Two-micron (2 μm) fiber laser technology has the potential to open a whole new area of industrial applications. Power scaling advantages enabled from increased core size and higher nonlinear thresholds offer a ten-fold increase in “raw power” compared with current, 1-μm-based technology. Also, a host of applications specific to this almost-unexplored region of the eye-safe spectrum become possible, including industrial processing, free-space communications, and medical procedures. More applications are expected to arise as currently exotic wavelengths become readily available.

To date, the lack of suitable components has blocked research and development (R&D) in this field. However, several recent disruptive component developments have changed the landscape:

1) Holmium (Ho)-doped silica fiber technology has advanced, providing a solid base for development;
2) All-fiber component technology offers integrated functionality;
3) Better isolator materials and new designs offer potential for effective 2 μm devices;
4) New modulator materials and designs allow Q-switches, filters, and switches;
5) Carbon nanotube composites offer effective sub-picosecond modelockers; and
6) 790 nm diode technology is ripe for development to perform optimum direct pumping of thulium (Tm).

Other project partners include Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH (Hamburg, Germany); Oclaro (San Jose, CA); Time-Bandwidth Products (Zurich, Switzerland); the University of Southampton (Southampton, England); Trinity College, Dublin; and Vivid Components (also in Southampton, England).

For more information on the ISLA project, please visit www.isla-project.eu.

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