Lasers are among the more important technological discoveries of the twentieth century, and are one technology that may never stop having a use. Of course for that to continue to be the case, advances must be made to improve lasers, such as how high-frequency lasers enable denser optical data storage systems. Thanks to researchers at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory spinout TeraDiode, we have a new laser system that could increase industrial use of the technology.
There are many avenues to produce laser light, with early lasers stimulating gases and more modern lasers using diodes. While the diode lasers can be significantly more efficient that gas-based lasers, diodes typically do not offer the power gases do. This has kept diode lasers from being used to cut and weld metals, but TeraDiode has found a solution with their TeraBlade system. By using a transform lens, a diffraction grating, and an output lens, the system is able to take the light from bars of diode lasers, and superimpose the light into a single beam.
The TeraBlade beam approximately matches the power of other industrial lasers at 2600 megawatts per square centimeter per steradian, but at 40% efficiency. Other industrial lasers are only 20-30% efficient, and can take up more room, so it is not surprising that TeraDiode is already finding customers in Japan and Europe.