A laser module may still sound like something out of a sci-fi movie for some people, but they are becoming more and more popular in modern-day technology. Here is a simple explanation of what these fascinating devices are and their general uses.
What is a laser module?
The laser module is a light system that has been put into a single device. Simply put, this device consists of an array of lasers combined to create one powerful beam of light. The two main categories of modules are “discrete” and “integrated.” Discrete light radiations have individual components such as a power supply, cooling source, and wavelength selection components packaged together with the device itself. Integrated modules consist of an assembly containing all of these parts which can be easily plugged into a larger instrument or system to make it function.
One common use for these modules is as a light source for optical microscopy. In long-distance applications, such as surveying and astronomy, laser diodes are used as targets or signal emitters since they have very high spatial coherence. Fiber-coupled diodes are used to transmit the source signal over fiber optic cables.
These modules contain either semiconductor or glass lasers, depending on their frequency. These can be found in devices delivering 5-20 mW at 650 nm, while glass types in devices with outputs of 1 watt at 1064 nm or less. Modules have a cavity where the lasing takes place that is temperature-regulated for maximum performance consistency. This temperature regulation allows multiple diodes to coexist in one cavity without interference from each other. The mirror coating must also allow the wavelength emitted by the diode to pass through it effectively, so special coatings are added to increase reflectivity based on this requirement.
Types of lasers used
The types of light radiation housed in these modules include solid-state, gas, and diode types. The main difference between them is the medium the light beam travels through (gas, crystal, or semiconductor) and the wavelengths they can emit. These often come in pairs. One pair emits a ‘pump’ beam which has a wavelength to excite other atoms/molecules to produce an additional photon with a shorter wavelength. This second photon has the exact same wavelength as the first one meaning it will travel through THE SAME PATH as the first beam, which would make it possible to use only one lens for focusing both beams simultaneously onto a very small spot. The second beam is not emitted from the module itself but from a ‘slave’. The slave will only produce a second beam when it receives a command to do so.
Laser modules are devices that hold the diodes, lenses, positioning mechanisms, and anything else necessary for a specific type of laboratory device. These lights are used in many research labs every day. The reason why they are so popular is that they are very versatile in their uses. As discussed earlier, they will produce the exact same result every time they are used, which makes them so incredibly useful when making technical or scientific presentations.
To demonstrate this point, one company recently used them at a trade show event: instead of having someone stand up and explain how their new product worked with a potentially complicated PowerPoint presentation, they just displayed three-dimensional models on the wall that were directly projected from the material being displayed without any of software or installation. This means that it is possible to freely pass the module around and each person in the room can see exactly what the presenter sees, which brings you even closer to the action.
The most common use of the module is for the delivery of power needed to run the device being lased, typically between 10-100 watts. Modules are also used in various types of technologies such as in printers, fiber optic sensors, projectors, 3D barcode scanners, semiconductor photolithography systems, lithography beam delivery controls & stabilization systems, blue diode lights for CD and DVD players/recorders, etc. They are also used in welding different materials together using a beam of light. The beam melts the two objects making them merge into one object to create something entirely new. Engineers also use this idea when creating computer chips and circuits connecting the silicon dots together.
Laser modules have a broad range of applications, and they have already reached robotics. One example is Roboteam’s ECO-Robot, which uses light sensors to zap weeds (and actual garden pests like bugs and rodents) right out of your garden. No more weed-eating or using harsh chemicals that require you to wear protective clothing while tending to your plants!
For ECO-Robot, the Roboteam’s module is a 100mw green light diode fitted into a compact housing, enabling it to be easily mounted into any platform that needs gardening assistance. They can either be set up manually or connected directly to a computer which then controls its movements seamlessly. In order for it to work effectively, however, ECO-Robot also uses other sensors such as LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging).
The positioning system works like a GPS for cars and boats. It can tell you your location with an accuracy of +/- 10 centimeters. The light beams are produced by the modules and they point to targets located on top of towers. Then, receivers receive and calculate the position based on the time it took for the beam to get there and back again. Laser modules emit short pulses that travel at light speed, so we know how long it takes for them to come back to us; we then measure how long it takes them to hit objects nearby. The closer an object is, the more accurate our measurements become.
Uses in everyday life
Laser modules are commonly found in appliances such as barcode scanners and CD players. They also have tons of other uses which can include multiplying signals going through fiber optics for telephone lines, TV and radio broadcasts, and internet connections. These have been used in many different fields from entertainment to surgery to manufacturing. Some surgical procedures done include CO2 resurfacing, dental curing, and arthroscopic surgery. Entertainment uses include shows that involve sensors like light shows, concerts, and even airsoft games.
These powerful lights have been used for very specific tasks that only they can do like cutting metal or stone. They often replace other tools to do these tasks because they are more accurate than the alternative tool. For example, removing hair from the skin using light therapy can be much more effective than tweezers or scissors.
It is good for you to have spent some time knowing about lasers. These have been very useful in various different areas of our lives and they will continue to be used for many more reasons!