Friday, October 05, 2007

Solar laser or solar energy laser?

Based on the news from, Japanese team revives solar lasers in quest for clean fuels.

The idea of using solar energy to power lasers is not new. Current designs work by using a system of mirrors to concentrate sunlight into an Nd:YAG crystal, but these lasers are not widely used because they require huge mirrors to collect the light – and even then achieve only low efficiency.

To address these issues, Takashi Yabe and colleagues at the Tokyo Institute of Technology experimented with using a Fresnel lens instead of mirrors as light collectors. They also found that doping the Nd:YAG crystal with small amounts of chromium significantly increases the power output of the laser.

The laser demonstrated by the team produces a power output of 24 W at 1064 nm. The design, which incorporates a 1.3 m2 Fresnel lens, offers an unprecedented slope efficiency of 12% above a threshold solar input of 500 W.

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