Applications of a laser diode and a laser diode controller
Laser diodes and devices based on them are becoming more and more popular in all kinds of applications. One of their first commercial implementations were laser readers and recorders. The first was a CD, then DVD, now Blue Ray.
Along with the miniaturization and increase in the power of laser modules, they appeared in:
- medicine, cosmetics (lasers for a small surgery, depilation),
- industry (lasers marking, cutting, engraving, but also measuring systems, or testing optics)
- science (measuring systems, floodlights, sample heaters, markers in astronomy),
- entertainment (mentioned disc readers, laser projectors, televisions)
- military (precision ammunition, reconnaissance, defense systems)
- services (engraving, code readers).
It can be assumed that the number of applications of the laser diode will increase with each year. These will be commercial devices produced in series going into tens of thousands of pieces, as well as niche systems in short series or even single copies. Opt Lasers provides drivers for devices manufactured on a smaller scale.
Diode driver – what is it?
The laser diode driver is simply the control signal amplifier. Because very often diodes require higher voltages than the control signal (the so-called modulation voltage), a device is needed that amplifies the signal, stabilizes the current and gives it the best parameters for the diode. At the same time, the output signal is amplified in proportion to the voltage of the input signal. Thanks to this, precise control of the laser diode are preserved.
The laser diode drivers can have many additional functionalities that expand their capabilities. For example integration with a temperature controller, or an output enabling control by a computer with a CNC software. Such laser drivers are called laser controllers. However, not every user wants to pay for features that he does not use. Some people need simpler and more intuitive diode driver models. These are the models that Opt Lasers offers as basic. Customers can, however, order laser drivers with additional functionalities.
Types of laser drivers
There are a lot of all kinds of drivers, as well as many criteria for the division. In the case of Opt Lasers products, the basic criterion for the division of drivers for laser diodes is the amount of output current and the number of channels.
High-power drivers will include devices with high current or high voltage capacity (in mass production up to 48 V or 60 A).
Medium-power drivers, on the other hand, have current efficiency of up to several A.
The number of driver channels corresponds to the number of diodes the main device must control. The most popular are single-channel diode drivers. They are used, for example, in laser heads for CNC machines. In turn, three-channel laser diode drivers allowing control of the RGB module.
However, the number of laser driver types does not end there. It is worth remembering that different types of laser diodes require different types of drivers, and additionally, the diode can be controlled in a continuous or pulse mode.
What’s more, other types of lasers need completely different laser drivers. For example, a CO2 laser requires a driver with high current efficiency and a very high output voltage (counted in thousands of volts), while YAG lasers – currents with very high intensity.
A separate topic is the requirements for the power of a laser beam controlled by a laser driver. Simplifying – industrial applications require settings that ensure optimal work efficiency. Scientific applications are more diverse, but often involve very precise settings of the variable power of the beam. So that it reacts with great sensitivity to changes occurring in the irradiated object. Hence, for almost every laser application, a laser diode driver with appropriate parameters should be selected or constructed. If necessary, integration with measuring and control systems should also be ensured. For example, with a dedicated temperature controller.
The Opt Lasers brand specializes in laser diode drivers and controllers (especially blue laser drivers). However, our engineers will also undertake projects concerning drivers for other types of laser.
As with any product, the price of the driver depends largely on the length of the series. Drivers according to ready projects are the lowest price level. More expensive will be customized drivers, but based on the basic design and longer series of drivers with the original design. The highest price level is a short series of drivers built from scratch.
A very important component of the laser driver’s price is the time spent by highly qualified engineering staff during the creation of this driver project. In addition, after building a prototype, it takes time to test its parameters.
Opt Lasers drivers are characterized by an attractive price in relation to their quality. The company also accepts orders for short-series laser controllers. We ensure one of the shortest terms in the industry. At the same time our brand maintaining high product quality and an acceptable price level.