High-tech lasers for space exploration

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Intense has been awarded a contract to build reliable laser pumps that will meet the challenging demands of space exploration.

The Pulsar (Pump Laser Stacks with Aerospace Reliability) project with the European Space Agency (ESA) requires high-power, high-efficiency laser diode arrays for solid-state laser pumping applications in space.

Intense has been contracted to provide lasers with these features, at a wavelength of 808nm and with a target power of 1.2kW under pulsed operation, with an electrical-to-optical conversion efficiency of 65 per cent.

The increased efficiency of the laser diode arrays will enable considerable power savings for space vehicles. Less energy will be converted to heat energy, so it will also ease the load of laser cooling systems.

The lasers will need to function for a long time without any maintenance, so they will also be produced with an expected lifetime of 12 billion shots. Intense's Quantum Well Intermixing (QWI) technology, which allows passive waveguides to be created near the laser diode's mirrors, will ensure the device is more robust against radiation damage.

The Pulsar program will run for 2.5 years with research results to be published in industry journals and at technical conferences.