01 Aug Alfalight garners $1.4 million defense funding for diode program
Madison, Wis. – Alfalight, Inc., a Madison-based manufacturer of high-power diode lasers for industrial, defense, and telecommunications markets, has been awarded $1.4 million in funding for Phase II of the Super High Efficiency Diode Sources program, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The overall goal of the project is to increase a laser’s power conversion efficiency — to lower the ambient heat emitted from a laser during operation. Efficiency increases would allow simultaneous increases in laser power and energy savings, with applications ranging from communications to metal cutting, according to the company.
The Phase II award follows Alfalight’s completion of Phase I in which the company developed working diode lasers that surpassed the targeted 65% efficiency, the company said.
The company reported that Phase II would enable it to continue making improvements to the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of pump laser diodes and to develop high-efficiency, high-power diode laser stacks. High PCE laser diodes are a key enabling component for high-power laser systems, amplifiers, and industrial lasers by allowing higher output power with less waste heat.
Alfalight demonstrated 71 percent efficiency in a 970nm, 55W laser bar at 25(degree)C in November 2004, and was certified by NIST in March to have met the Phase I program objectives.
Typical lasers on the market today operate at 50-60 percent efficiency, according to company spokesman Jeremy Draper, with the current goal being to get about 10 points or more beyond that range. Draper said real applications of the newer laser technology could make it to market early next year, with high-power diode laser stacks arriving within the next year and a half.
“Obviously we’re shooting to get close to 100 percent efficiency, but it’s not realistic in the market today,” Draper explained. “If we can get into the high 70s or 80 percent, we’d be saving the end consumer a lot of money.”
The Super High Efficiency Diode Source program results will be highlighted at DARPATech 2005 in Anaheim, Calif., Aug. 9-11. Alfalight’s latest results will be presented at the International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro-Optics (ICALEO) in Miami in November.
Click here to find out more about Alfalight’s laser technology development.