Project: HYbrid ultrafast LASEr systems for next generation industrial manufacturing

High power lasers have transformed many areas of manufacturing and are now the tools of choice for a wide range of cutting, drilling and welding processes. _x000D_The automotive and medical device manufacturing industries are two of many that have benefitted from the rapid development of high power continuous wave (CW) technologies. Moreover, the use of short-pulse (nano-second or Q-switched) lasers is now widespread, predominantly in the area of laser marking of materials. _x000D_However, whilst offering the possibility for enhanced processing precision, the use of ultra-short pulse (ultrafast) laser technology within manufacturing is still restricted to a few highly specialized industrial applications such as memory-repair. Ultrafast technology is still perceived as being unreliable and expensive, with a typical 10-Watt average power ultrafast laser being priced more than 20 times that of a comparable Q-switched or nanosecond source. _x000D_Most industrial applications that would benefit from the use of ultra-short pulses instead either accept the lower-quality processing results of nanosecond lasers or alternatively utilize more traditional mechanical techniques. However, in some specialist industries such as thin-film Photovoltaics (PV) fabrication, non-contact processing is essential for commercial viability. The most promising thin film PV material structures in terms of efficiency (CIGS - Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) still utilize mechanical scribe tools in their manufacture, reducing the yield, cell efficiency and reliability. The drive to achieve grid-parity requires enhanced PV cell efficiency and reduced manufacturing cost, making high precision processing an essential requirement. _x000D_Our proposal is therefore motivated by the ambition to develop a cost-effective ultrafast laser platform capable of meeting the needs for contactless, high precision industrial manufacturing and moreover to establish ultrafast lasers as a truly viable technology for industrial integration. _x000D_The CO technical goal of the project is to develop two technology demonstrator lasers based on a common laser platform to address two immediate markets and to validate use of these lasers for those markets –_x000D_-1- a high pulse energy (>500micro Joules), high peak power (25 Megawatts) ultrafast (<20picoseconds) laser system including second harmonic generation, for laser material ablation. This laser will be developed, built and validated through thin-film process trials and patterning of so-called P2 and P3 scribes on CIGS PV material samples._x000D_-2- a quasi-CW (>100MHz repetition rate), high average power (50Watts), narrow line width laser system, and demonstration of high power (>6Watts) fourth harmonic (266nm) UV for next generation semiconductor inspection applications. _x000D_Both laser systems will share the same hybrid laser architecture based on a fibre laser oscillator/ pre-amplifier seed source and diode-pumped solid-state amplifier technology. The novel architecture is based on direct amplification, eliminating the need for chirped pulse or regenerative amplification utilized in existing, expensive commercial laser systems._x000D_The developed lasers will demonstrate a route to achieving volume pricing under $50K (€36K), less than a third of existing commercial state of art laser systems, with half of the laser dimensions, and enhanced reliability and robustness. _x000D_The most urgent and accessible markets (thin film processing in PV and display manufacture and semiconductor inspection) will be addressed during the project, with return of investment expected within 6-months of the project completion. The unique flexibility of the laser architecture will further enable penetration into far reaching applications and markets benefiting from the precision and cost benefits of an ultrafast laser technology._x000D_HYLASE brings together SME Ps with both the technical as well as the commercial capabilities required to achieve the project goals. _x000D_Fianium are leaders in development and exploitation of all-fibre ultrafast laser technology. The company has the fibre laser technology, global sales force and industrial contacts necessary to both identify and exploit the market opportunity for the HYLASE technology. _x000D_NEOLASE GmbH, spun-out of the world-leading LZH research facility in Hannover, Germany, has developed world-leading DPSS amplifier technology, widely accepted as the highest quality in terms of compactness, efficiency and resulting spatial beam quality._x000D_Ultrafast fibre lasers and DPSS amplifiers have a natural synergy but require very specific levels of experience and expertise not commonly shared by a single development team. Through the HYLASE collaboration, Fianium and neoLASE have the unique capabilities to identify and address this enormous opportunity for European and global industry and to meet the challenging goals and objectives of the HYLASE project. _x000D_

Acronym HYLASE (Reference Number: 7080)
Duration 01/02/2012 - 31/01/2014
Project Topic HYLASE unites European leaders in ultrafast fibre lasers and solid-state laser amplifiers to develop the world’s most compact and cost-effective high energy ultrashort-pulse laser system. Resulting technology will offer immediate return on within rapidly expanding €4B industrial markets.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO project results are the improved performance of two different technologies (fiber and solid-state) and the developed combination of both technologies in a hybrid system. CO Technology results are:_x000D_- 25W in a very compact hybrid picosecond laser system_x000D_- 60W and up to 500µJ pulse energy with a hybrid laser system prototype_x000D_Beside the technical aspects the project has enabled an excellent working relationship between the two Ps. The relationship will be continued and a joint system commercialisation is planned._x000D__x000D_
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 7

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 neoLASE GmbH Partner Germany
2 Fianium Limited Coordinator United Kingdom