Today, JDSU made an exciting product announcement from our Communications and Commercial Optical Products (CCOP) business unit. JDSU introduced its ST Series Fiber Laser Pump that features the brightest fiber-coupled diode laser performance available in the industry today. It will be showcased at a key event for the industrial laser community this week: Laser World of Photonics in Munich, Germany where we are exhibiting at Hall C1, Booth #301.
Core aspects of JDSU’s culture − innovation expertise and close collaboration – are a big part of how this solution was developed and the important role it plays in the industry.
For a closer look at how this product came together and its impact, Jay Skidmore, a director in the CCOP business unit who is very close to this solution and the team behind it, provides interesting insight in the Q&A below. Congratulations to the group!
Jay, please provide a quick summary of your role here at JDSU? How long have you been with the company?
I lead a research and development (R&D) team that develops a wide variety of fiber-coupled packages. Our High Power Laser (HPL) group supports three diverse applications under CCOP: Telecommunications, Industrial lasers and Consumer products (i.e., Gesture Recognition). I joined SDL in 2000 that was acquired only a few months later by JDSU.
How does today’s announcement ultimately impact consumers? What high-profile, high-growth technologies does it enhance or enable?
Fiber lasers are quickly becoming the welding-cutting tool of choice due to numerous advantages that provide strong traction for high-brightness pumps, such as the ST Series. The ST pump provides the right combination of brightness, size, reliability and $/Watt (i.e., the ratio of product cost to output power) to enable fiber laser suppliers to simplify and cost reduce their designs.
The JDSU ST Series pump laser was announced today
What is a key driver of developing this new product and delivering these new, innovative technology capabilities? In other words, what problem does it solve?
Today, pump lasers contribute the lion’s share of the total cost of the fiber laser system (~50%). As such, lower $/W is the loudest metric voiced by our customers. However, we should really be thinking in terms of bright and reliable $/W. Pump brightness, roughly speaking the total number of optical Watts divided by the core diameter of the pump fiber output, translates into greatly simplified fiber laser designs comprised of fewer components, which operate at higher efficiency. Pump reliability provides fiber lasers with a relatively lower cost of ownership (service free, up to ~ 30kh field deployment). So our goal is to produce more reliable semiconductor lasers that extract as much light into the smallest fiber diameter, while preserving the inherent high-reliability of laser diodes. These advancements translate to a more rapid adoption of fiber lasers that are scalable to even higher power levels.
How bright is this new laser compared to what’s on the market, and what does this technology enable for its end users (the manufacturer) that they couldn’t do before?
The ST pump offers up to 40% higher power and brightness coupled into the same fiber output (106.5um core) and foot print as that offered by our competitors. This additional brightness can then be exploited by the fiber laser designer to simplify their designs, increase brightness, power, and efficiency of the fiber laser itself, and reduce cost.
How long has JDSU served in this space?
SDL pioneered the adoption of laser diodes for industrial products; so in this sense, SDL/JDSU were first on the scene (their credibility in reliable laser diode products was also what attracted me to work here). For the past ~15 years, those high-power semiconductor lasers became the engine for many laser systems, such as solid-state, fiber-laser, and/or more recently, direct-diode lasers.
I am hearing how this particular product is the result of solid collaboration within JDSU – can you elaborate on some highlights that make it such a powerful collaboration story?
Collaboration begins by forging a strong partnership with our primary customer, a leading manufacturer of machine tools for metal fabrication. To support them, an internal team we named Project Stingray was quickly formed with daily interaction to figure out how to supply pumps to our Commercial Lasers development team while simultaneously not slipping development of the ST pump! The HPL team always put our internal customer first to ensure all of their milestones were met punctually. The ST pump was designed from scratch, and when I consider the final, released product, I can point to at least one or more members of the team that contributed to each element in making this product a real success. This product is the most ambitious in HPL history and as such also required close collaboration and trust from our Operations and Shenzhen, China R&D teams to provide a smooth transition into the factory.
What were some keys to the success of developing this solution?
Technical innovations vital to the success of the pump include: (1) the new “Sirius” laser diode, named after the bright star, that sets the benchmark for high brightness/reliability in a broad-area diode. The primary focus of the Chip Development team (led by JDSU’s Victor Rossin) was to increase the catastrophic optical damage (COD) limit that represents the fundamental barrier to reliable, high power operation for all edge-emitting diodes. (2) Optical alignment. HPL/JDSU has very tight control over the Numerical Aperture (NA) of the output, and also ensures that the fiber-coupling components remain extremely stable over life. Naturally, this is a critical concern to our customers because if the fiber coupling fails, then the field reliability will be dominated by the package, not the diodes. At such high power levels, thermo-optical management becomes a vexing design challenge. Notably, our ST pump passes the most rigorous GR-468 Telcordia standard intended for Telecommunications products. To our knowledge, competitive offerings cannot pass such high reliability standards and that contributes to JDSU being able to differentiate and establish credibility in the market place.
I understand that it will be demonstrated at Laser World of Photonics in Munich this week – what is the significance of the event as it relates to JDSU and the launch this week?
This is one of the largest and most influential shows for the industrial laser community, so it’s a perfect opportunity for JDSU to showcase our achievements for both ST-Series high-brightness pump and Fiber laser products. This is our first product announcement for the ST-series and we expect it will evoke an enthusiastic response by our customers and more work for my team!
Jay Skidmore is a director in JDSU's Communications and Commercial Optical Products (CCOP) business unit