May 2, 2008 Raydiance has demonstrated an ultrashort laser (USL) that generates 56 microjoules per pulse, with pulses lasting only 700 femtoseconds. The platform is the first compact, cost-effective, and fully software-controlled USL, and achieved the highest pulse energy in a fiber laser, at the eye-safe wavelength of 1552 nanometers. The laser, which can ablate (remove) even reflective or transparent material, generated a peak power of approximately 80 megawatts.

Continuous wave lasers generate heat when they are used for ablation, making them undesirable for engineering purposes, and dangerous for medical operations. Ultrashort lasers emit photons in pulses measured in femtoseconds, (one billionth of one millionth of a second), a timespan too short to generate heat in surrounding material. The pulses are created by pumping photons into a ring of fiber-optic cables treated with erbium, which emits photons whenever it is struck by a photon. This interaction causes short bursts of photons, which are then channeled into a beam, further amplified by erbium, and fired at the target. The pulses are precise enough to create a Coulomb explosion in atoms, stripping them of electrons and turning them into a plasma or gas, without damaging surrounding material.

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The sensitivity of the laser opens the door for a wide variety of medical applications, including cancer cell removal, tattoo removal, eye surgery, and cosmetic treatments. USP lasers can also induce photodynamic effects, including stimulated gene transfection, and the suppression of metabolic activity in cancer cells. The high electric field and short duration of the laser pulses also suit it for imaging and diagnostic applications, including time-resolved optical tomography, laser image detection and ranging, laser detection and ranging, and multi-photon fluorescence spectroscopy.

“Although our Raydiance Discovery platform has been in the market for just a year, it is already being used by numerous customers to develop innovative surgical tools, applications in genomics, homeland security applications and advanced manufacturing solutions,” said Scott Davison, Raydiance president. “With the Navy’s support, we have demonstrated how this practical commercial architecture scales to much higher power. This is an important milestone not only for the country, but also for our commercial clients who will be able to take advantage of this enhanced power to explore new markets for USP applications.”