First direct-diode laser bright enough for metal cutting, welding
Diode lasers – used in laser pointers, barcode scanners, DVD players, and other low-power applications – are perhaps the most efficient, compact, and low-cost lasers available.
Attempts have been made over the years to amplify the brightness of these valuable lasers for industrial applications, such as welding and cutting metal. But boosting power usually means decreasing beam quality, or focus. And the beam never gets intense enough to melt metal.
Now MIT Lincoln Laboratory spinout TeraDiode is commercialising a multikilowatt diode laser system that's bright enough to cut and weld – even through a half-inch of steel – at greater efficiencies than today's industrial lasers.
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