Fibre laser quietly revolutionizes the world
For more than 50 years lasers have been successfully established in research and industry. Now, a special configuration is taking the fast lane: the fibre laser. Its advantages are obvious: due to the fibre design the beam quality is close to perfect, hence best possible focus ability even with very long operating distances is ensured. Flexible fibre geometry and vibration insensitivity as well as high efficiency and low operating costs convincingly allow an uncomplicated integration in industrial, automated production processes. Compared to conventional materials processing, the laser machining entails positive features, namely minor limitations regarding processable materials, non-contact treatment and high beam scanning speed as well as maximum accuracy.
A diversified consortium on the European level will work together to set new standards in the field of fibre laser technology. Main objective of the nearly 16 m. EUR EU-project LIFT - Leadership in Fibre laser Technologies, - starting in September 2009, is the offensive consolidation of Europe's scientific, engineering and production-related leadership position. Coming from 9 different countries, expertises of 15 decisive companies, among them two Fraunhofer institutes, three universities and one non-profitorganization joined and constitute a strong consortium.
Managed by the Fraunhofer-Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden, laser suppliers, producers of optical and opto-electronic components, manufacturers of photonic fibres and fundamental researchers as well as application engineers will work on several goals. The consortium will focus on the development of fibre-based short pulse lasers for so called gentle "cold treatment" of materials, in particular for special ceramic-materials, being of increasing interest in various areas. Another key role plays the progression of ultra reliable, pulsed highperformance-fibre laser systems which will significantly enhance processes like remote-laser cutting or welding in their efficiency.
A specific challenge within the medical sector will be the realization of a three-colour fibre laser. The aim is to develop a narrowband fibre laser system which is continuously emitting VIS radiation at wavelengths specifically chosen to treat various symptoms like acne or retina indisposing. Furthermore, this laser system will permit to combat certain types of cancer via photodynamic therapy.
Additionally, the project addresses the sector of renewable energies. As the technical efficiency of photoelectric cells reaches its upper limit, the consortium will focus on the improvement of individual production steps in the manufacturing of solar modules. Pulsed high performance fibre-laser systems in combination with intelligent remote-beam delivery components will allow the up to now very intricate large area processing of solar substrates.
Almost unnoticed by the end user, the fibre laser proceeds on its way to a crucial component of Europe's high technology and so quietly revolutionizes the production and medical technology of tomorrow.