Ultrafast Laser Components
Early on, TeraXion recognized the emerging importance of ultrafast lasers also known as ultrashort pulse lasers for industrial and medical applications. To address this need, TeraXion has developed a line of high-quality pulse stretchers, acousto-optic modulators (AOM) and dispersion management reflectors that are robust, cost-effective, and versatile.
Ultrafast lasers are a unique tool for modern material processing of electronics, precision automotive parts, and medical components. These lasers generate extraordinarily high peak power, and the highly-localized energy enables cold ablation machining with high accuracy and high-aspect ratio. The high peak power also enables ultrafast pulses to interact with any material, including low-absorption and transparent media.
The design of a high-energy ultrafast laser begins with the selection of quality components. Ultrafast lasers must be cost-effective while also meeting stringent operational requirements:
- Robust: 24/7 operation in a manufacturing environment
- Versatile: Tunable pulse duration, repetition rate, energy, average power
- Reliable: Consistent pulse quality
- Compact: For space-constrained manufacturing equipment
Although mode-locked oscillators are capable of creating ultrashort pulses, the resulting energies are generally insufficient for advanced manufacturing applications. The pulses must be amplified to reach the required energy levels using a technique called chirped-pulse amplification.
Pulse Stretching and Compression
Ultrashort pulse amplification is challenging because even low-energy pulses exhibit sufficient peak power to damage the amplifier. Stretching the pulse over time reduces its peak power and allows for optimal amplification without distortion—further stretching enables higher amplification. Recompressing the pulse following amplification returns it to its original ultrashort duration with significantly increased peak power—often in the gigawatt range. TeraXion’s line of ultrafast laser components maximizes both performance and cost effectiveness. These products include fixed and tunable pulse stretchers as well as stretcher+compressor matched pairs.
Most ultrafast laser applications require a modulation of the pulse energy - to optimize the process efficiency of industrial applications and the phase contrast in microscopy. To maintain a maximal throughput, the laser’s average power must remain at its highest. Therefore, acousto-optic modulators (AOM) will vary the repetition rate of pulse trains sent through the amplifier chain. They pick out optical pulses by reducing MHz repetition rate and managing burst modes. Generating fewer pulses per second will result in an increase of the individual pulse energy – and in optimal micromachining frequencies. TeraXion’s fiber-coupled acousto-optic modulator (AOM) for pulse picking functions distinctly separates the pulse train with a low rise time (10ns) and low insertion loss.
Most industrial pico- and femtosecond laser systems utilize mode-locking to generate ultrashort pulses. The challenge with mode-locking is that the process requires a broad frequency band, but all the different wavelengths must maintain a defined phase relation as the pulse propagates within the cavity. TeraXion’s all-fiber dispersion-management reflectors provide precise control over the chromatic dispersion within the laser cavity, ensuring stable and short pulses.