Project: High energy and high average power femtosecond slab-based laser amplifier for micromachining applications

The project aims for the development of a high energy and high average power femtosecond laser system based on a simple and efficient system architecture._x000D__x000D_With continuing integration and miniaturization of components in many industrial fields, especially in electronics, optoelectronics and related fields, a broadening range of industrial applications require high-precision processes. Thanks to their superior properties, femtosecond lasers can play an important role in this fields and overcome limitations of state-off-the-art mechanical or chemical processes or laser processes applying longer pulses in the nanosecond or picosecond range._x000D_The machining process with femtosecond lasers is a "cold", athermal ablation process that leads to melt-free machining quality thus avoiding costly or time-consuming post-processing production steps. Moreover, selective ablation of different materials can be achieved with high precision, which is a typical application in the patterning and structuring of solar cells or other opto-electronical doCOs. Another great advantage of femtosecond pulses - thanks to their extremely high peak powers - is the capability of machining essentially any material, i.e., metals, dielectrics, and especially ceramics and lightweight compound materials which cannot easily be machined with state-of-the-art processes._x000D_Currently ultrashort pulsed lasers for machining those materials are available in the power range up to 50W. Nevertheless for high production rates power levels up to 1kW or more could be applied._x000D_Despite proven advantages in machining quality, however, industry is still hesitating in large scale application of femtosecond lasers, COly because of two issues: cost and the perception of a high system complexity of such lasers._x000D__x000D_The project proposal addresses both issues. The planned femtosecond system architecture avoids stretcher and compressor configurations typically required for femtosecond pulse amplification and consists only of a high-energy seed laser (Master Oscillator) and a performance- and cost-optimized slab amplifier (Power Amplifer) without complex beam manipulation components (e.g. Pockels cell, stretcher, gratings, etc.). This results in a compact fs-MOPA system with architecture similar to existing nanosecond or picosecond lasers, however, offering all the features and advantages of a femtosecond laser. The aimed laser parameters of the laser prototype are: <500fs pulse duration, >100µJ pulse energy, and >100W average power._x000D_Thanks to the high peak power of the laser system and the linearly polarized laser output beam, efficient frequency conversion to other wavelength regions, e.g. into the UV, can be expected which enables polymer machining applications and new photolithographic applications in the semiconductor sector._x000D_The project will involve AMPHOS GmbH responsible for the development of the slab-based Power Amplifier and Amplitude Systemes who will develop the high-energy seed laser and integrate the whole system into a prototype laser. Moreover, the project involves the laser application platform Alphanov as sub-contractor of the project and the Fraunhofer ILT as project P. These parties will contribute to decisions about the interface between the laser and the ablation process/machine. Moreover, they will use the laser prototype at the end of the project for process development. Both parties will act as technology provider for laser machining with high power ultrashort pulsed lasers. Especially Fraunhofer ILT provides development services for more than 100 SME annually starting from feasibility studies up to full production manufacturing developments. They can provide USP laser systems for companies who cannot initially afford the cost and specialized personal. In this way the technology and the related system can be spread to much wider community instead of concentrating to one single end user.

Acronym FEMSLAM (Reference Number: 6467)
Duration 01/02/2012 - 31/05/2015
Project Topic The project aims to develop an industrial high average power (>100W) and high energy (>100µJ) femtosecond laser for micromachining applications. This laser source will leverage the penetration of femtosecond lasers into the industrial production process especially into the photovoltaic sector.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 6

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. Partner Germany
3 AMPHOS GmbH Partner Germany
3 Amplitude Systemes Coordinator France