High-energy measurement systems for optical source manufacturers
Monday, July 22, 2019
Imagine that you drive a sports car with the most high-tech features, but you are not sure about your car's speed due to an inaccurate speedometer—that's not nice or safe at all!
High-energy laser systems are like sports cars of the laser industry, and their output energy needs to be verified with high accuracy during the manufacturing process to ensure end-user safety and reliability of the laser-based applications.
Physicists and engineers always plan to build more powerful lasers for different kinds of needs, and the progress in the output power of lasers opens new doors for new applications.
This trend will never subside and laser manufactures will continue to build powerful lasers for new customers. Today, the output energy of such laser systems has achieved the level of hundreds of joules and they are used in several fields, from medical to industrial and from defense to research.
While working with such high-energy laser beams, the output energy should be accurate to ensure quality throughput, job efficiency and end-user safety. Especially if we talk about intense pulsed lasers used in an application where traceability is crucial, a few percentages of misreading in the measurement can cause serious problems in the hands of end users.
Moreover, if the end application is a medical-based one, the problem might be much serious than you think. Therefore, characterization of the laser beam energy of such systems by manufacturers needs special attention.
If you are one of these optical source manufacturers who build high-energy laser systems, you must be aware of the several challenges that affect the measurement of laser beam energy on the road, for reliable and high-accuracy energy measurement.
Let's imagine that you fired up your laser today in the morning and the next day with the same conditions. However, what you read in beam energies is different between the two measurement sessions. That's normal if you have a reliable laser and laser energy sensor with low repeatability.
Thus, choosing a high-energy laser measurement unit with less than ± 0.5% repeatability helps you overcome such a problem. Additionally, if the environment of your manufacturing area creates noise, which leads to fluctuations in measured energy, you should ensure that the signal-to-noise-ratio of your measurement is high enough.
Lastly, and most importantly, your beam should be measured by a well-calibrated energy sensor with low calibration uncertainty. Even if your laser measurement system is not affected by environmental factors, has high signal-to-noise ratio, and high repeatability but low calibration uncertainty, it's not a good idea to rely on its measurement.
Fortunately, today, innovations in laser power sensors have enabled the availability of well-calibrated and reliable laser energy measurement devices in the market, which can measure hundreds of joule-level laser energies with rock-solid repeatability and accuracy.
If you are a high-energy optical source manufacturer who cares about end users’ satisfaction and safety, you already know that precise measurement of intense pulses is challenging and requires careful attention, as explained above. But there is no need to worry when you have sophisticated laser energy measurement tools at your disposal to characterize your high-energy optical sources.