Researchers at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have unveiled the world’s first digital laser.
The innovation is regarded as a milestone in laser technology and could spur future laser-related developments.
Customizing the output beam shape from a laser invariably involves specialized optical elements in the form of apertures, diffractive optics and free-form mirrors. Such optics require considerable design and fabrication effort and suffer from the further disadvantage of being immutably connected to the selection of a particular spatial mode. Here we overcome these limitations with the first digital laser comprising an electrically addressed reflective phase-only spatial light modulator as an intra-cavity digitally addressed holographic mirror.
The phase and amplitude of the holographic mirror may be controlled simply by writing a computer-generated hologram in the form of a grey-scale image to the device, for on-demand laser modes. We show that we can digitally control the laser modes with ease, and demonstrate real-time switching between spatial modes in an otherwise standard solid-state laser resonator.
Source: “A digital laser for on-demand laser modes” by Sandile Ngcobo, Igor Litvin, Liesl Burger & Andrew Forbes