Scientists from MIPT and their colleagues have developed a novel compact and powerful ceramic-based laser – it will be used as a minimally traumatic and inexpensive laser scalpel for surgical operations, and also for cutting and engraving composite materials. The results of the study have been published in Optics Letters.
Today, lasers are used everywhere: in consumer electronics devices, in medicine, metallurgy, metrology, meteorology, and many other areas. Laser beams occur due to the effect of stimulated emission in an active medium, which could be a gas, liquid, crystal, or glass. The wavelength of a laser and the efficiency of converting energy into radiation are both dependent upon the parameters of the active medium.
Ivan Obronov, a researcher at MIPT, and his colleagues from the Institute of Applied Physics of the RAS and the company IRE-Polus used a ceramic obtained from compounds of rare-earth elements – lutetium oxide with added thulium ions (Tm3+:Lu2O3). It was the thulium ions that enabled the ceramic to generate laser radiation.
“Ceramics are a promising type of medium for lasers because they are produced by sintering powders into a polycrystalline mass. They are cheaper and easier to manufacture than single crystals, which is extremely important for mass adoption. In addition, it is easy to alter the chemical composition of ceramics, which in turn alters the laser properties,” explains Obronov.
The laser they have developed converts energy into radiation with an efficiency of more than 50%, while other types of solid state lasers have an average efficiency of approximately 20%, and it generates infrared radiation with a wavelength of about 2 microns (1966 and 2064 nanometres). The wavelength is what makes this laser so useful for medical purposes.