Holmium-infused glass fibers open the possibility to develop high-powered fiber lasers. To be more precise, scientists from the USA have presented a new technique that allows designing powerful fiber lasers that are considered to be more efficient and safer for eye surgery due to the application of nanotechnology.
The nanoparticles are applied to produce “rare-earth-ion-doped fiber” that consists of silica fiber infused with ions of the rare-earth element holmium. Thus, this material offers 85% efficiency of fiber laser systems. The operating principle of such a laser system is based on a pump source (quite often provided by another fiber laser) that incites the rare-earth ions that lead to photon emission to create a high-quality laser beam light at the desired wavelength.
Nevertheless, the fiber laser technology does not provide 100% efficiency. The thing is that the thing that is put in is regarded as pump energy, this is not the high-quality laser beam light at the wavelength is required. Finally, a much higher quality of light in the fiber laser system is possible to obtain at the specific wavelength, however, the energy that isn’t converted into laser beam light is wasted and changed into heat.
Herewith, such a loss of energy defines the significant limitation of power scaling and the laser system’s quality that makes such quality as efficiency especially important. The doping process from nanoparticles enables fiber lasers to achieve 85% efficiency with a laser system that operates at a 2-micron wavelength (safe wavelength for eye surgery compared to standard 1-micron lasers).
Of course, it should be noted that no laser is really safe when it comes to the eyes. The thing is that “the danger arises from the risk of scattered light being reflected into the eye during a laser beam’s operation.” For instance, scattered light from a 100-kW fiber laser operating at 1 micron can result in serious damage to the retina and blindness as well.
Nonetheless, an “eye-safe” laser system that operates at wavelengths beyond 1.4 microns allows greatly decreasing risks from scattered light. Additionally, nanotechnology allows for overcoming several other challenges. The first is that it protects the rare earth ions from the silica in fiber lasers.
Herewith, “the nanoparticle doping also separates the rare-earth ions from each other, which is helpful because packing them closely together can reduce the light output.” Conventional laser systems operating at 1 micron applying a ytterbium dopant are more resistant to these factors.
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