Recent advances in processing of polycrystalline transparent ceramic materials such as Nd:YAG have made them viable alternatives to that of the traditional single crystal for solid state lasers. The use of conventional ceramic processing methods has many cost and design advantages over single crystals, including mass production, higher and more homogeneous doping concentrations, and a wider range of material compositions that are not possible using crystal growth methods.
Nevertheless, the more severe optical requirements of laser gain materials vs. that of typical transparent ceramics mean that their production is not a straightforward task. Polycrystalline ceramics cannot contain scattering sources that would interfere with their lasing characteristics, such as impurities, secondary phases, or residual pores.
As a world leader in the production of transparent ceramic armor and sensor domes, TA&T is uniquely situated to lead in the development of ceramic laser gain materials. We have used our expertise in optimization of material processing of transparent MgAl2O4 Spinel to make suitable Ti:MgAl2O4 doped laser gain material, operating at 480 nm, with reduced porosity and impurities for use in LIDAR laser bathymetry and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) applications.
TA&T production of transparent polycrystalline laser material ceramics can be achieved in several days, in contrast to growing a single crystal, typically via the Czochralski method, which requires several weeks.