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Lasers in medicine and biophotonics: David Richardson

Harnessing the power of light - the fibre laser revolution

David Richardson

Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 2380 594524, Fax: +44 2380 593142
Email:, Web:

Over recent years the powers that can be achieved from fibre lasers have grown rapidly due to parallel advances in high power diodes, diode-to-fibre coupling schemes and doped fibre design and fabrication.

From a technological perspective the headline results have generally related to the possibilities of scaling continuous-wave fibre lasers, with >5kW now possible from an effectively single-mode core. However, advances in many aspects of pulsed laser performance have been just as spectacular. Using the fibre MOPA approach it is now possible to realise fs and ps pulsed fibre systems operating at the multi-100W level with pulse energies now up at the 1 mJ level. In the nanosecond regime multi-100W systems have also been achieved with single mode pulse energies as high as 10mJ, and by relaxing the mode quality pulse energies approaching 100mJ are now possible.

On a more practical level, fibre lasers are alignment-free, extremely-compact, robust and power-efficient - greatly reducing the cost of ownership. These advantages derive from the waveguide nature of fibre and the fact that large surface-area to volume ratio of the fibre geometry means that heat generated in the lasing process is readily removed and does not compromise laser performance.

Within this talk I shall review the state-of-the-art in both CW and pulsed fibre laser systems, outline some of the issues limiting further power and energy scaling, describe various applications now being targeted, and speculate as to likely future developments.


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AILU one-day technology workshop as part of the Industry and Technology Programme at Photon08.

Photonics is an enabling technology for many products in different sectors. Increasingly important in all areas this seminar is designed to highlight developments in laser technology as applied to medical and biophotonics areas. The burgeoning specialism of photonics in the medical sector is addressed in this one-day meeting as part of Photon 08.

Duncan Hand of Heriot-Watt University will be chairing the event.

This is a Medical Group event - for more information about the Medical Special Interest Group or to join contact the AILU Office.


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