August 28, 2007, Glasgow, Scotland--Semiconductor laser manufacturer Intense announced a new R&D contract with the European Space Agency (Noordwijk, Netherlands). Called PULSAR (PUmp Laser Stacks with Aerospace Reliability), the contract is for the development of reliable, high-power, high-efficiency laser diode arrays for solid-state laser pumping applications in space.
The focus of the PULSAR program is to improve both the reliability and efficiency of laser diode stacks at 808nm wavelength. The arrays will target a power of 1.2kW under pulsed operation with an electro-optical conversion efficiency of 65%, a value unachievable
with existing technology.
The increased efficiency of the new laser diode arrays will enable considerable power savings aboard space vehicles and will reduce heat removal requirements because a smaller fraction of the input energy will be converted into heat. The pumping efficiency of solid-state lasers can be increased further if the array's emission spectrum is narrowed and stabilized using volume Bragg gratings. The high-efficiency laser arrays will be manufactured to a demanding lifetime specification of 12 billion shots in a space environment using Intense's patented quantum well intermixing (QWI) technology.
"QWI technology is particularly suited to space-borne applications as it produces laser diodes with increased radiation hardness," stated Professor John Marsh, CTO of Intense Ltd. "We are optimistic we can achieve these targets based on the success of the DARPA-funded SHEDS initiative in the US, where laser efficiency was improved by over 20% at longer wavelengths. Once developed, the PULSAR opportunity will enable further advances in Intense's capabilities at 808nm, benefiting the entire HERMES high-power laser products family."
For more information, visit www.intenseco.com.