Ultrafast-pulse laser news at the 2016 ASSL conference

While the ASSL conference is not one that I would normally travel to attend, I decided to check it out since it was in the Boston area this time. 

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The Advanced Solid State Laser (ASSL) conference was held in Boston, MA last week (October 30 – November 3, 2016). This conference, sponsored by the OSA, is one that is located at a variety of places around the world (next year, it is in Nagoya, Japan, and the following year it is back in Boston)—while it is not one that I would normally travel to attend, I decided to check it out since it was in the Boston area this time.

This conference is primarily academic in a sense. The exhibit is pretty small and the attendance is only a few hundred people, but the quality of some of the talks was excellent and it is another venue that is small enough to enable easy interaction with a lot of the attendees on a personal basis.

Dr. Valentin Gapontsev from IPG and Dr. Berthold Schmidt from Trumpf gave invited talks on lasers. Interestingly for me, Dr. Gapontsev mentioned IPG getting into the ultrafast-pulse (UFP; also known as simply ultrafast) laser world. In fact, their ytterbium femtosecond fiber laser has about a 500fs pulse length, 10µJ pulse energy, and 10W of output power at a 1030nm wavelength. These specifications are by no means earth-shattering, but what is potentially interesting is the fact that this product can apparently be made very inexpensively, which will really push the price of UFP laser processing down. They also have a picosecond laser. (More details will be found in my upcoming article in the January/February 2017 issue of ILS.)

I also was interested to learn that TeraDiode has a UV diode laser. The pulse length is pretty long, but it is very interesting nonetheless. The company claims to be doing well and certainly they have shown some very nice applications photos. On the other hand, one of their chief rivals—DirectPhotonics—has had a harder time getting traction and the word is that they are being acquired by II-VI. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on this technology!

Unfortunately, I will not make Fabtech this year, as there is just too much on my schedule—but editor-in-chief David Belforte will be there and available for discussions.

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, comments on entrepreneurial endeavors, etc. AND … we are always looking for fresh, publishable material. Please feel free to contact me at rschaeffer@photomachining.com.

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