The goal of a new European consortium with six partners from research and industry is to optimise a laser-stabilised TIG welding process. About 50 interested enterprises came to the one-day, start-up workshop for CLAiM in Turkey, and attentively followed the lectures on the planned optimisations for welding thin metal sheets.
There is no question that laser diodes are increasing in power every year. While this increase in power brings new applications and new markets, it also brings with it a big problem – waste heat.
The main challenge facing laser diode manufacturers today is not how to make more powerful lasers, but how to cool them so that they last long enough to be of use.
How do you see further into space, observe the beginnings of the Universe, or pick out planets orbiting distant stars in which the host star burns a billion times brighter than the planetary system? Part of the answer is simply to build larger telescopes that gather more light – and the largest telescopes in the world, in the eight to 10m class, are certainly employed in these investigations. There are also extremely large telescopes under development, with apertures of more than 20m diameter.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity for the impact that the laser can have on our lives is in medicine. Though photonic technology permeates our lives through consumer products every day, it is the lifesaving potential of laser-based techniques that can make the masses sit up and take note of photonics in a major way.
Toni Koszykowski, the founder and CEO of Laser SOS, rather stumbled across a career in photonics. In the early 1980s, he was working for a large US company that manufactured thick-film microcircuit paste, as used for printing thick film microcircuits. At the time, abrasive trimmers were used for adjusting the value of the resistors. ‘It was around 1983 or 1984 when ESI (Portland, Oregon) produced the first commercially-available thick film laser trimmer,’ says Koszykowski. ‘Up to that point, as far as I was aware, lasers were primarily R&D tools.