New powerful diamond laser that can easily cut through steel

13 Aug 2015

A new diamond laser has been created that’s 20-times more powerful than its predecessors, equivalent to 400,000 laser pointers and strong enough to cut through steel.

Researchers in Australia and Germany recently demonstrated the new device, powering 380W in comparison to the 20W standard.

Diamond lasers are old in concept, but new in execution. We thought of them as long ago as Diamonds are Forever, the 1950s James Bond book, and ’70s film.

They were being used at the time, but it’s only the last few years that we’ve seen technology really take hold.

Uses of the technology range from long-distance power beams (space communications, essentially) and tracking and removing space debris.

The surge in research into the field is because these lasers offer a whole suite of different possibilities, in comparison to standard lasers.

The paper actually saw staff from the MQ Photonics Research Centre team up with fibre laser experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, Germany.

“Just as X-rays pass through flesh to enable us to see bones within a body, different colours of laser radiation can interact or be transmitted by different target materials,” said Dr Robert Williams, the lead researcher on the project and provider of this image of the device:

Diamond laser machine

The wavelength of the new diamond laser, at 1240nm, has high transmission through the atmosphere, and is safer to use because of its reduced transmission through the front of the eye and lower risk of damage to the retina.

“Around the time of its invention, the laser was famously labelled ‘a solution in need of a problem’,” said Dr Williams.

“But now it has penetrated so many aspects of industry, science and our daily lives that the number of applications are countless.

“A key to unlocking many more applications of lasers will be the development of high-brightness beams at new wavelengths, and diamond is providing just that.”

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic