This section provides an overview for laser diodes as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 18 laser diode manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked laser diode companies as of September, 2023: 1.Frankfurt Laser Company, 2.Advanced Photonic Sciences LLC, 3.Sacher Lasertechnik GmbH.
A laser diode is a device that uses a semiconductor mechanism known as recombination emission.The word “laser” is an acronym of "Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation", where radiation is light.
The color of the laser is determined by the elements that make up the semiconductor. Some lasers operate at room temperature, while others require cooling, depending on the resonator structure and output power.
The difference between laser diodes and LEDs is that laser diodes meet the requirements for laser oscillation. Variations in wavelength and amplitude of the light are much smaller in laser diodes as well.
Laser diodes (LDs) are widely used in consumer information equipment because of their small size, low power consumption, and low cost. They’re also lightweight, efficient, and highly reliable.
They are used in barcode readers, in optical pickups for optical drives such as CDs, DVDs, and BDs, copiers, laser printers, and optical fiber-based communication devices. High-power laser beams are also used in laser markers and laser processing machines.
The diffusion-resistant and long-distance reach of laser light makes them suitable for use in surveying instruments and laser pointers for pointing at objects. Because they emit coherent light, they are ideal for leveling and alignment applications.
In laser diodes, coherent light is emitted by the recombination of holes ("holes" here means spaces from which electrons have been released) and electrons when a voltage is applied.
The emitted photon causes another electron to recombine with the hole one after another, emitting photons, so that the generated light has the same phase and wavelength. Since the wavelength of the light is always constant, it is used in barcode readers, laser pointers, fiber-optic communications, and other applications requiring a constant amount of light.
The L/I curve is used to understand laser diodes specifications. This curve allows us to keep track of the drive current supplied in relation to the light intensity output.
This curve is used to determine the operating point (drive current at rated emission output) and threshold current (starting current of laser oscillation) at the laser, and is also used to determine the current required to obtain high output power at a particular current.
By reading this curve chart, one can see that optical output depends greatly on temperature, and that as temperature increases, laser parameters decrease. This makes it possible to visualize and estimate the efficiency of a laser diodes by incorporating the L/I curve.
While both are classed as electro-electronic components, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have disparate phases, so light rays are diffused radially; in contrast, laser diodes are in phase with each other, resulting in a linear beam of light. The light emitted by a laser is also monochromatic in nature, meaning it’s a bright, single-colored emission. Moreover, laser light is stimulated to emit coherently and efficiently, while light-emitting diodes utilize the electro-luminance effect, which is inferior.
Therefore, light-emitting diodes have an unfavorable characteristic in that their emitted light won’t easily enter a fiber with a small core system due to the wide surface of the light-emitting layer. On the other hand, laser diodes have a narrow emitting layer, making it easy for the light to enter a fiber with a small core system.
And since laser diodes emit photons by colliding every emitted photon with another atom, the light produced is coherent and the light beam is monochromatic. In contrast, the light produced by a light-emitting diode is incoherent and the emitted light consists of various colors.
The average life expectancy of a laser diodes varies depending on the operating environment (operating temperature, static electricity, power surges) and is generally between 10,000 and 50,000 hours.
The following section discusses operating temperature as a variable among the environmental factors that affect the average life of LDs.
Operating temperature is said to reduce life expectancy by half when the operating temperature rises by 10°C. If the operating temperature continues to rise above the maximum operating temperature, then laser diodes are more likely to be damaged and their long-term performance degraded. The degradation rate at operating temperatures increases exponentially with the operating temperature.
Therefore, the use of heat sinks (radiating plates) is recommended to reduce the effects of operating temperature and to increase luminous output. Heat sinks dissipate the thermal energies generated by high power electro electronic-components. Passive cooling is one solution, but active cooling devices are available. These include air cooling and water cooling mechanisms.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Frankfurt Laser Company (FLC) is a supplier and distributor of semiconductor lasers as well as laser diodes and modules based in Friedrichsdorf, Germany. Founded in 1994, the company stocks lasers utilizing the full range of sources — from UV to IR and far-IR — for use in the medical, research, and industrial sectors. Aside from lasers, the company also stocks superluminescent diodes that cover wavelengths of 405-6000 nm, as well as optics like collimator lenses and beam expanders. FLC has served customers around the world for over 25 years both online and via an international network of partnered retailers and warehouses.
Advanced Photonic Sciences LLC was established in 2003 and is based in Friendsville, PA, United States, as a manufacturer of individual laser and custom devices as well as laser modules & systems for biomedical, illumination, and aiming applications in industrial and governmental organizations. The company provides cryogenic lasers, diode lasers, fiber-coupled diode lasers, optical breadboards, and optical tables that have applications in lasers technology, optics, aerospace, energy & power, and photonics sectors. They also offer experimental kits for photonics and laser technology education for students as well as spectroscopy services, custom laser solutions, laser engraving, and laser materials & measurements.
Sheaumann Laser, Inc. is a privately-owned manufacturer and distributor of laser diodes established in 2005 by Jim Hsieh and based in St. Billerica, Massachusetts. The company manufactures single-mode and multimode continuous wave (CW) Diode lasers ranging from 780 to 1070 and with an output power of up to 30W used in medical, industrial, defense, space, and environmental applications. They also manufacture various laser packages, including butterfly, high heat load, TO-Cans, and 2-pin modules. Sheaumann also has in-house capabilities, including wafer growth, processing, and packaging, allowing the company to provide customized solutions for demanding projects of various sizes.
Blue Sky Research was founded in 1989 and is based in Milpitas, California, is a manufacturer of fiber-coupled laser diode modules and fiber optic-based laser components for various industries. The company provides fiber-coupled lasers & systems, laser diode modules & components, engineered products & prototyping devices that have applications in laser technology, confocal microscopy, life sciences, and, microelectronics sectors. They offer integrated laser drivers, monitor electronics, temperature stability & controls, semiconductor laser products & solutions for microlens technology-based processes and applications.
AeroDiode is a company founded in 2016. Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, USA, the company is a supplier of laser diodes and modules for various industries. AeroDiode offers a diverse range of laser products, including diodes, modules, and drivers. These products are widely used in applications such as industrial manufacturing, scientific research, and medical procedures. The company also provides technical support services, with comprehensive product information and customer services to meet the specific needs of its customers.
U.S. Lasers, Inc., is an American privately held corporation that manufactures and produces a large range of laser diodes and modules. Established in 1992, the company offers a wide range of lasers and laser systems for industrial, medical, and scientific applications. They are used in various applications, including telecommunications, barcode readers, laser printers, and industrial machining. In addition, the company also offers technical support, training, and repair services to meet the specific needs of its customers.
Ushio is a manufacturer of industrial light sources and is headquartered in the Netherlands since 1964. The company is known for its discharge and incandescent filament lamps, laser diodes, Excimers, and LED chips. The company makes additional devices like power supplies for chemical, medical, and scientific purposes, as well as lamp houses for radiation emissions. The company caters to various industries such as providing Projector Lamp Technology for cinemas, in the medical industry they aid in analysis and procedures like Endoscopy, other than that stage and studio lighting, sports venues, UV disinfecting, and general lighting all are applicable.
Laser Components was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Olching, Germany. The ISO 9001:2015 certified company also has locations and distributors across Europe and the United States. The company is a manufacturer and researcher for semiconductor technologies and dielectric coatings. Chemicals used include silicon, lithium tantalate, and deuterated L-alanine doped triglycene sulphate, known as DLATGS. The company’s product segments include IR Components, Photo Counters, Lasers, and Fiber Optics. The company’s services include repair, calibration, tool servicing, and job coatings.
TOPTICA EAGLEYARD is a global provider of high-power laser diodes based on GaAs(Gallium Arsenide). TE’s product portfolio features diodes with wavelengths from 630nm to 1120 nm catering to a range of high-end applications including gas detection, atomic clock, dental, illumination, spectroscopy, inter & intra satellite communication, dental, and LIDAR. TOPTICA EAGLEYARD serves various industries including industry, life science, space, defense, and research. TE operates independently under its own brand and sales organization while being part of the TOPTICA Photonics Group.