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Blue diode lasers offer high absorption for most metals and are adequate for the machining of gold and copper, which was difficult by conventional near-infrared (NIR) lasers. Blue diode lasers are expected to be used as light sources for next-generation laser machines and, in actuality, their usage as light sources for heat conduction welding and laser marking is on the rise.

Meanwhile, the higher power output and higher brightness of blue diode lasers are necessary for cutting of several-millimeter-thick metal, laser hardening, and keyhole laser welding, which forms a deep cavity or "keyhole," through melting and evaporation of metal.

Thus, in a NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) project, researchers from Shimadzu Corporation and Osaka University, in cooperation with Nichia Corporation, made efforts to enhance output power and brightness of blue diode lasers.

They recently developed a new blue direct diode laser module with high power output (200 W) and high brightness (2.6×106 W/cm2 in a 100 μm core), achieving the world highest power output of 1 kW, 10 times the output of the previous module with a power output of 100 W and brightness of 1.3 × 106 W/cm2, which was also developed in the NEDO project.

This new blue direct diode laser module achieved the world’s highest class of power output and brightness of a light source for a blue diode laser module. It also recorded a power output of 1 kW by combining 5 laser beams from the light source to deliver them into a single narrow fiber. Although the core diameter of the output optical fiber is as thin as 400μm, high brightness necessary for laser machining is secured.

Achieving such a high power output represents a step toward the realization of laser cutting of several-millimeter-thick copper and gold, laser hardening, and keyhole laser welding, which was difficult to achieve by conventional blue diode laser technology. This device will be used for machining parts in the aerospace and electric vehicle industries, which requires high-accuracy machining.

Shimadzu Corporation plans to add this model to its lineup of blue diode laser modules, “BLUE IMPACT,” which will launch sales in 2020.


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