Unlike conventional light sources, the radiation energy of a laser is entirely focused in its narrow emission beam. This enables for a targeted energy transmission over large distances of many kilometres – provided that a sufficiently good beam quality and appropriate transmission optics are available. At the Institute of Technical Physics, research is being carried out regarding the power scaling of high brightness laser designs, the propagation of high-power laser radiation in the atmosphere including compensation for optical interference, the optical tracking of fast moving objects and also affecting the effects of laser on the target.
Possible applications include the power supply of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or satellites (laser power beaming) and laser-based air defence.
High-power lasers with many kilowatts of output power are now established in materials processing as a common tool for cutting and welding. These lasers, however, are not suitable for transmitting radiation energy over long distances. This requires a significant improvement in beam quality and higher power.
At the Institute of Technical Physics, concepts for power scaling, as well as the coherent coupling of solid-state lasers – in particular thin disk lasers – with the aim of diffraction-limited beam quality, are being developed and experimentally investigated in both continuous wave and pulsed modes. Targeted energy delivery by focusing the laser beam on a target over large distances is only possible with a high beam quality.