Laser technology

A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories, based on theoretical work by Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow. A laser differs from other sources of light in that it emits light coherently. Spatial coherence allows a laser to be focused to a tight spot, enabling applications such as laser cutting and lithography. Spatial coherence also allows a laser beam to stay narrow over great distances (collimation), enabling applications such as laser pointers. Lasers can also have high temporal coherence, which allows them to emit light with a very narrow spectrum, i.e., they can emit a single color of light. Temporal coherence can be used to produce pulses of light as short as a femtosecond.

  • 3D printed optical lenses, hardly larger than a human hair

    3D printed optical lenses hardly larger than a human hair | Complex 3D printed objective on an optical fiber in a syringe. University of Stuttgart/ 4th Physics Institute

    3D printing enables the smallest complex micro-objectives

    3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines are written sequentially, even the most complex devices could be realized fast and easy. This method is now also available for optical elements. Researchers at University of Stuttgart in Germany have used an ultrashort laser pulses in combination with optical photoresist to create optical lenses which are hardly larger than a human hair.

  • Appointment of Prof. Schleifenbaum to the chair “Digital Additive Production“ at RWTH Aachen Uni

    Picture: “In the area of Additive Manufacturing, the applications and the transfer of know-how into the industry are particularly important!” © Schleifenbaum.

    Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl. Wirt.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum has followed the call to the newly established chair – “Digital Additive Production DAP” – of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University. He assumed the position on August 1, 2016. He also took over management of the competence area “Additive Manufacturing and Functional Layers” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen on November 1, 2016. Pooled expertise in additive manufacturing technologies in Aachen. Along with RWTH Aachen University, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences and industrial partners, the Fraunhofer Institutes ILT and IPT form a strong network promoting additive manufacturing (AM) technologies at an international level. In addition to the Photonics Cluster, inaugurated in April 2016 at the RWTH Aachen Campus, the newly established DAP chair rounds off the great spectrum of AM offered by Aachen’s R&D landscape.

  • Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

    Atomic precision technologies for the next but one generation of microchips picture 2 Image 2: The coating of mirrors is carried out with atomic precision at Fraunhofer IOF in Jena. © Fraunhofer IOF, Jena, Germany

    In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

  • Attosecond camera for nanostructures

    Attosecond camera for nanostructures | When laser light interacts with a nanoneedle (yellow), electromagnetic near-fields are formed at its surface. A second laser pulse (purple) emits an electron (green) from the needle, permitting to characterize the near-fields.

    Physicists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in collaboration with scientists from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have observed a light-matter phenomenon in nano-optics, which lasts only attoseconds.

  • Bern-made laser altimeter taking off to Mercury

    The BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA) University of Bern / Ramon Lehmann

    University of Bern’s Laser Altimeter BELA has been successfully tested during the last weeks and the last components will be delivered to ESA on 5 October. The first laser altimeter for inter-planetary flight to be built in Europe is part of the ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Starting in 2024, it will provide data about the planet’s surface.

  • Care-O-bot® 4 celebrates its première as shopping assistant

    Paul, a member of the Care-O-bot® 4 robot family, has been greeting customers in Saturn-Markt Ingolstadt since the end of October 2016 and directing them towards their desired products. Source: Saturn

    In January 2015, Fraunhofer IPA presented a prototype of the “Care-O-bot® 4” service robot. The charming helper is now proving its worth in the real world. “Paul” the robot has been greeting customers in Saturn-Markt Ingolstadt since the end of October 2016 and directing them towards their desired products. Care-O-bot 4®, alias Paul, approaches Saturn customers and welcomes them to the store. If they ask him about a certain product, he accompanies the customer to the department and points them in the direction of the relevant shelf. As he indulges in small talk about the weather or another subject, Paul turns out to be a most charming contact partner. However, he prefers to leave actual customer service to his human colleagues.

  • Das MPQ päsentiert den Original-Laser

    Prof. Theodore Maiman (Foto: K. Maiman)

    Im Jahr 1960 begann eine neue Ära der Technologiegeschichte. Theodore Maiman stellte den ers-ten funktionierenden Laser der Öffentlichkeit vor. Ein kleines Gerät bestehend aus einer Blitzlampe, einem Rubinkristall und einer Hülse aus Metall. Maimans erster Laser hat die Jahrzehnte überdauert. Jetzt ist das Original im Foyer des Max-Planck Instituts für Quantenoptik (MPQ) in Garching b. München in einer kleinen Ausstellung zu sehen. Zusammen mit dem Laser präsentiert das MPQ das Original-Laborbuch von Theodore Maiman mit seinen bahnbrechenden Skizzen des Geräts. Die Ausstellung ist ab dem 12. Dezember 2016 kostenlos zu besichtigen am Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Hans-Kopfermann-Str.1, 85748 Garching; täglich von 9 bis 17 Uhr. Journalisten sind herzlich zur Ausstellungseröffnung am 12. Dezember 2016 um 15 Uhr im Foyer des MPQ eingeladen.

  • Etching Microstructures with Lasers

    Structuring process for glass using direct laser ablation with ultrafast laser pulses. Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen / Volker Lannert.

    Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

  • First Random Laser Made of Paper-Based Ceramics

    The team used conventional laboratory filter paper as a structural template due to its long fibers and the stable structure. Photo: Institute for Complex Systems /Rome

    Working with physicists from the University of Rome, a team led by Professor Cordt Zollfrank from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) built the first controllable random laser based on cellulose paper in Straubing. The team thereby showed how naturally occurring structures can be adapted for technical applications. Hence, materials no longer need to be artificially outfitted with disordered structures, utilizing naturally occurring ones instead.

  • formnext 2016: low-cost SLM unit with production costs below 20,000 euros

    Picture 1: Debut at formnext 2016: the new, low-cost SLM unit for 3D printing of stainless steel components is particularly suitable for entry-level users. © Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

    FH Aachen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT are to present a new, low-cost SLM unit for the first time at formnext in Frankfurt am Main from November 15-18, 2016. Developed jointly with the GoetheLab at FH Aachen, the unit is intended primarily for small and medium-sized enterprises for whom expensive selective laser melting technology is not yet economically viable because of the high level of investment required.

  • Greifswalder Forscher dringen mit superauflösendem Mikroskop in zellulären Mikrokosmos ein

    Die Professoren Nicole und Karlhans Endlich am neuen Superresolution-Mikroskop. Foto: Kilian Dorner

    Das Institut für Anatomie und Zellbiologie weiht am Montag, 05.12.2016, mit einem wissenschaftlichen Symposium das erste Superresolution-Mikroskop in Greifswald ein. Das Forschungsmikroskop wurde von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) und dem Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern finanziert. Nun können die Greifswalder Wissenschaftler Strukturen bis zu einer Größe von einigen Millionstel Millimetern mittels Laserlicht sichtbar machen.

  • ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

    Digitally created and saved in the cloud - how the digital twin accompanies the component throughout its entire life cycle will be a central topic at the ICTM Conference. © Photo Fraunhofer IPT

    “Digital production” is increasingly turning into an integral part of successful turbomachinery manufacturing: How digitalization approaches can enhance efficient manufacturing and lifetime of modern turbomachinery components will be the central aspect of the fourth “ICTM Conference” on February 15 and 16, 2017, in Aachen. Online registration for the conference is open now, with an early bird price until December 16, 2016. The event, which is organized by the Fraunhofer Institutes for Production Technolgy IPT and Laser Technology ILT, provides attendants of the turbomachinery industry with current information and the opportunity to discuss new developments around the major topics “Advanced Machining”, “Digitalization”, “Industrie 4.0” and “Additive Manufacturing”.

  • InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

    “Throwing light into the process”: Determination of chemical parameters by optical measurement through a vessel wall. Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

    Optical process analytics – this fast and non-contact method of measuring chemical and physical parameters provides high-density information without the need to take samples. What’s more, it can be shrunk to a far smaller size and is easy to integrate into existing process lines. From its location in Aachen, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology led a consortium to analyze the future potential of this technique in cooperation with BAM and RWTH Aachen University. The purpose of the study, entitled “Inline process analytics with light – InLight” was to develop a technology roadmap and a detailed white paper that will be presented to a wider public in early 2017.

  • Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

    Selective laser melting makes it possible to manufacture highly complex geometries made of magnesium and magnesium alloys in a flexible and precise way. LZH

    Smallest structures, complex parts or individual implants – due to its flexibility additive manufacturing has a high potential for use in modern production technology. Therefore, this topic is perfectly suited for the ”Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing” that is organized by NiedersachsenMetall and the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) to transfer the latest research and development results to industrial application. On November 09th, 2016, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are invited to come to the LZH to inform themselves about laser-based additive manufacturing.

  • Interior Designer with 3D Glasses - Where are the Best Places?

    Special 3D glasses allow the user to immerse into the three dimensional interior design of a virtual model of a production facility.

    Many of today’s products and production processes are created, tested and optimized in the digital world. But until recently, owing to their complexity, this was not true for factories. Now, researchers from Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) have developed a tool that visualizes production facilities in 3D – a development that, by making processes transparent, helps to avoid expensive planning errors. About one year ago, CT researchers presented their visualization concept at Siemens’ Digitalization Day. That’s when they encountered Philipp Bierschneider from the Digital Factory Division, which is located in Amberg, Germany.

  • Laser rescue system for serious accidents

    The chances for rescue are much higher the faster a person can be freed from the vehicle. Photo: Stadt Dortmund – Institut für Feuerwehr- und Rettungstechnologie

    Better technology and modern materials increase the traffic safety and save human life. But they pose totally new challenges for the emergency personnel at the accident site. Because today, tools like hydraulic rescue cutters more and more often reach their limits. A mobile laser unit for rescue missions shall solve this problem. The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), six project partners and eight associated partners have teamed up to develop this system. In the past 25 years, the number of road traffic deaths has been drastically reduced, and the number of severely injured persons decreased significantly, too. Among others, the declining figures are due to improved passive safety. The use of high-tensile steel and composite materials adds to this.

  • Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

    LaserForum is the annual German meeting point for laser experts IVAM

    This year’s LaserForum will be held on November 3, 2016 at NIFE, Lower Saxony Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development in Hanover, Germany. It will be titled "Laseranwendungen in der Medizin" (Medical Laser Appplications).

  • Laser-additive manufacturing paves the way to Industry 4.0

    Additive manufacturing at the micro scale using Selective Laser Melting. LZH

    On November 09th, 2016, already for the third time, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and NiedersachsenMetall invited small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to attend the Innovation Day Laser Technology at LZH. About 100 guests informed themselves about the state-of-the-art as well as the application and market potential of the focus topic “Laser Additive Manufacturing”. „Are we ready for implementing Industry 4.0?“, asked Dr. Volker Schmidt, CEO of NiedersachsenMetall and Chairman of the Industrial Board of the LZH, the audience at the beginning. With regard to the innovation potentials and new markets, he emphasized the high importance of digitalization. “What is the future of work in the age of digitalization?”, opened Ingelore Hering from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economics, Labour and Transport her welcome speech with a question, too. “Only all stakeholders together can find sustainable answers to this challenge. For example here today.”

  • Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

    Image 1:  Surface structuring with laser radiation. © Fraunhofer IPT, Aachen, Germany.

    At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility. In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive manufacturing to laser polishing – are now commonplace in large-scale production.

  • LZH optimizes laser-based CFRP reworking for the aircraft industry

    Repair preparation of a CFRP aircraft component through layer-by-layer laser removal of the damaged material areas. Foto: LZH

    To be able to rework aircraft components made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) more efficiently in the future, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has started the joint research project ReWork together with the INVENT GmbH, OWITA GmbH und Precitec Optronik GmbH. The aim of the project is to develop a reliable process for thin-walled and complex CFRP components. Today, many aircraft components are made of the lightweight material CFRP. Advantages of this material are the low weight and the high stability. The processing of this material, however, is still difficult. Therefore, in order to eliminate production- and operation-related defects in a faster and more cost-efficient way, the aircraft industry requires a reliable solution.