Monday, July 09, 2007

Why femtosecond lasers are not be used widely in industry?

In principle, femtosecond lasers provide a solution for most of micromachining, such as machining Teflon or glasses. The extremely high peak power means that nonlinear effects allow strong absorption even in transparent materials, enabling difficult materials to be machined. At the same time the very short pulses avoid thermal damage.

Unfortunately, femtosecond lasers have significant disadvantages. To date, most femtosecond lasers give high pulse energies at comparatively low repetition rates. The extremely high peak power tends to create a plasma at focus. The fireball is comparatively long-lived and significant thermal damage can result from the long-lived plasma. If the pulse energy is reduced to eliminate these effects, the material removal rate becomes extremely slow. Femtosecond lasers also tend to be complex, expensive, and high maintenance, making them unattractive for industrial use except where they are the only solution and the user fully understands their limitations. Therefore, while femtosecond systems are valuable research tools, they are not widely used in industry.

Digested Laser Focus World Vol. 43 (June, 2007)

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