Together with small and medium-sized companies, research institutes from Berlin and Jena are developing the world's first pulsed Joule-class laser light source for the mid-infrared spectral range.
Two German regions are pooling their expertise in the field of laser technology in the recently launched BMBF HECMIR project (Mittlerer-Infrarot-Laser für die Hochenergie-Klasse – High Energy Class Mid-Infrared Lasers). The partners from Berlin and Jena are jointly developing a novel high-energy laser source for the mid-infrared (MIR) spectral range. In the joint project, a diode-pumped solid-state laser with 1.9 μm wavelength that provides high laser energy in the Joule range is to be developed and demonstrated for the first time. This laser source offers a high innovation potential for applications in the medical sector, in material processing and in basic research. Due to several fundamental challenges, such a powerful pulsed laser source is not yet commercially available in this wavelength range.
The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research institutions involved want to change this, making such MIR lasers available by pooling their know-how along the entire value chain: including manufacturers of laser materials, laser diodes and laser stacks as well as renowned research institutes. Just by itself, research and development to establish manufacturing of these high-energy class MIR lasers represents a technical innovation in the field of laser production technology in Germany. The initiative thus makes a substantial contribution to maintaining German laser technology at the forefront of international competition. "This will result in innovative processes, products and services that open up new market potential, especially for the SMEs involved," explains Frank Lerch, coordinator of HECMIR and managing director of the OpTecBB competence network.
Since April 2018, the BMBF joint project HECMIR is funded with almost 1.5 million euros for a period of three years under the KMU-NetC programme. The project is coordinated by OpTecBB, the Berlin-Brandenburg Competence Network for Optical Technologies. In addition to the Friedrich Schiller Uni-versity Jena, Institute of Optics and Quantum Electronics (IOQ), and the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut (FBH) in Berlin, the two SMEs Lastronics GmbH from Jena and Crystal GmbH from Berlin are involved. Associated partners are the Leibniz Institute for Crystal Growth (IKZ), Brilliance Fab Berlin GmbH and JENOPTIK Diode Lab GmbH.