High-power diode lasers: Technology transfer the Berlin Way

Silke Pflueger, newly appointed member of ILS' Editorial Advisory Board, reports on her latest trip to Berlin and ongoing development work on high-power diode lasers.

Oct 4th, 2012

by Silke Pflueger

Silke Pflueger, newly appointed member of ILS' Editorial Advisory Board, reports on her latest trip to Berlin.

At ICALEO 2012 in Anaheim, one of the hot topics was how different countries facilitate technology transfer from academia to industry. Germany's Fraunhofer institutes have received a lot of well-deserved attention for their role in this.

Berlin Adlershof is another example for German technology transfer. Formerly the home of the East German Academy of Science, it now is Germany's leading science and technology park with 11 non-university research facilities, six institutes of the Humboldt University, and over 400 companies. It offers new companies superbly equipped space, and with many new buildings also quite a bit of space to grow. But the main advantage is having many other tech companies in close vicinity, since it shortens development times and allows for a close collaboration with other companies. Case in point: The development of new laser diodes for industrial use.

Located in Berlin-Adlershof, the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut fuer Hoechstfrequenztechnik (FBH) is one of the leading research centers for diode lasers in Germany, well known for their work on increasing power, efficiency, beam quality, narrow spectral linewidth and reliability of high-power diode lasers, covering a wide wavelength spectrum. The FBH won the Transfer Prize 2012 for its work on high-power diode lasers for material processing together with JENOPTIK Diode Lab.

Founded as a spin-off from FBH, Jenoptik Diode Lab GmbH is just across the street, and has been part of the Jenoptik Group since 2002, commercializing the FBH's technology to manufacture high-quality semiconductor material for use in high-power diode systems. Jenoptik is using its cutting-edge diodes in its own products, and is also supplying other German laser manufacturers with diode material.

Across just another street is DirectPhotonics, a 10 person start-up which is using high-power diode material and turning it into ultrahigh-brightness diode laser systems, based on patents from Fraunhofer ILT and CLT. DirectPhotonics' systems are designed for cutting and welding, using the inherent brightness of the diodes and automated assembly processes. While DirectPhotonics has the core technology, it can count on suppliers in Adlershof and beyond in the greater Berlin, providing fibers, manufacturing technology and optics.

Just as Silicon Valley grew out of the close collaboration of Stanford and a handful of entrepreneurs, Berlin Adlershof's close proximity of researchers and developers is helping the research institutes to focus their energy on markets, and to funnel their new developments into the surrounding companies.

Silke Pflueger is GM of ULO Optics, and newly appointed member of ILS' Editorial Advisory Board.

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