What is an Ultrafast Laser?
Ultrafast lasers are typically defined as any pulsed laser producing pulse widths less than 10 ps (picosecond lasers), down into the femtosecond region (femtosecond lasers) and beyond, which are commonly referred to as ultrashort pulses (ultrashort pulse lasers).
‘Ultrafast Lasers’ is a term that can refer to a number of various types of lasers. However, for our purposes, we are referring to mode-locked fiber lasers. Our ultrafast lasers are produced by mode locking many phase-locked longitudinal modes from a broadband laser or a material with a large gain bandwidth. Because of this, mode locking induces a beat frequency which results in picosecond or femtosecond duration laser pulses. Furthermore, these ultrafast laser pulses are unique for their extremely high peak power and, combined with the ultrashort pulses, are ideal for a number of applications. For example: non-thermal ablation, micromachining, and non-linear spectroscopy including CARS and two-photon microscopy.
Picosecond Lasers – Picosecond Lasers emit laser pulses with a pulse duration in the picosecond range (one-trillionth of a second, or 10 -12 seconds). Given a particular value for pulse energy, the laser pulse’s peak power increases as the pulse duration gets shorter. So, a laser with shorter pulses, such as a picosecond laser, can achieve much higher peak powers when compared to longer pulsed nanosecond or millisecond pulsed lasers.
Femtosecond Lasers – Femtosecond lasers emit optical pulses with a pulse duration below 1 picosecond, in the femtosecond range. A femtosecond (fs) is one quadrillionth (one millionth of one billionth) of a second or 10−15 seconds. Since lasers producing less than 10 ps pulses are considered Ultrafast Lasers or Ultrashort Pulse Lasers, femtosecond lasers fall firmly in this category.
Our Ultrafast Laser Products
We offer a selection of ultrafast mode-locked lasers with pulse widths as short as 100 femtoseconds (100fs) and up to 10 picoseconds (10ps). They produce a peak pulse energy up to 60 microjoules (60µJ) and pulse repetition rates up to 80 MHz. These lasers are typically available in the near infrared wavelength region. However, frequency doubling allows the generation of visible outputs in the green spectral region. With many options and customization capabilities, we’re sure to have a solution for your unique problem.
RPMC is your Ultrafast Laser Supplier! We have supplied many fiber-based femtosecond laser systems to various researchers, laboratories, and materials science development teams around the country. Often, the researchers we work with don’t have extensive laser experience, and rely on us to help them choose the best laser for their application or project.
Benefits of Ultrafast Lasers
The higher peak powers provided by shorter pulsed lasers result in faster removal rates within the same material, as more energy is transferred to the material in less time, and less energy can absorb in the surrounding material, generating less heat. These lasers, with high peak powers (often several megawatts), cause the atomic bonds of the material to break. This break is referred to as a Coulomb explosion, which is a ‘cold processing’ (athermal ablation or non-thermal ablation) method, as opposed to a more conventional thermal ablation method inherent to longer pulsed lasers (e.g., nanosecond pulsed lasers).
In contrast to non-thermal ablation, traditional thermal ablation relies on localized heating of the material, resulting in the melting, and vaporization of the material’s molecules and atoms. This processing technique is detrimental to certain laser applications. Femtosecond lasers have certain technical advantages versus picosecond lases. However, picosecond lasers tend to have much more attractive pricing, while still offering high peak powers and high average powers in a less complicated system.
Ultrafast Lasers are perfect cold ablation of many materials, such as plastics, polymers, PET, composites, glass, diamonds, ceramics, metals, and various coatings. Ultrafast lasers can even perform well with layered substrates. Cold ablation allows for high-precision material removal without heating surrounding area. Thus, ultrafast lasers will not produce heat affected zones (HAZ) or significant material splatter recast. Another benefit provided by ultrafast lasers is the reduction or elimination of any post-processing or cleaning.
In recent years, femtosecond fiber lasers have started replacing bulkier, more complicated, water-cooled ti sapphire lasers. These air-cooled ultrafast fiber lasers, take up less space and allow you to place the controller in a rack mount, for example, while positioning the smaller laser head right where you need it.
At one-tenth the volume, twice the power, and half the cost, our fs Fiber Lasers are perfect replacements for old, outdated Ti:Sapphire lasers. With useful wavelengths like 920, 1040, and 1064nm, you aren’t paying extra for unnecessary wavelength tunability. With a compact, air-cooled, maintenance-free design, and an industry-standard beam height, you’ll see a fast ROI with less downtime and more room to breathe after easily dropping one of these plug-and-play fs Fiber Lasers into your old Ti:Sapphire laser footprint.