II-VI Incorporated, a global leader in engineered materials and components, continues to innovate and develop the next generation of laser optics. II-VI is a pioneer in the development of aspheric sapphire optics. By leveraging sapphire’s key material properties. II-VI continues to offer alternative options to meet the growing demands of the multi-kW fiber laser market.
The challenges of manufacturing sapphire lenses to the required optical tolerances has limited sapphire as a material option for optical designers. By developing a new proprietary manufacturing method, II-VI is able to offer a unique solution to the laser industry.
Exceptionally hard and mechanically strong, sapphire optics offer multiple performance benefits over fused silica optics. Sapphire’s higher thermal conductivity allows for a 50% reduction in thermal focus shift and a 66% reduction in rise time when compared to fused silica. Sapphire’s power-handling ability of 20 kW and beyond has been demonstrated; see “Comparison of 1 µm Optical Materials for High-Power Laser Processing” by II-VI optical design engineer Adam Argondizzo, et al., presented at ICALEO, October 2019 (https://www.lia.org/conferences/icaleo).
Laser focusing head designs that utilize sapphire optics will operate at higher laser power densities while being lighter and smaller than the heads currently available on the market. This allows for faster cutting speeds without exceeding the performance limitations of gantry technology.
Sapphire aspheres decrease contamination effects on laser performance, which means less downtime for cleaning and servicing. They enable longer lifetimes and reduce system operating costs.
II-VI’s ability to manufacture aberration-corrected sapphire aspheres enables many 1 micron applications beyond the limits of available technology and products today.