Measuring laser quality more accurately

17th February 2016
Joe Bush

Ophir Photonics has introduced its new M2 Beam Propagation software for the Pyrocam family of pyroelectric laser beam profiling cameras. Designed for measuring laser quality, the software incorporates M2 calculations that predict how a laser will focus and beam propagation parameters (BPP) that describe how the laser diverges as a function of the beam waist width.

The M2 Beam Propagation software allows manual collection of 2D laser beam profiles for CW and pulsed lasers from 13nm to 350nm and from 1 to 3000µm. Calculations include beam width, M2, BPP, divergence angle, Rayleigh length, astigmatism, asymmetry ratio, average power and spot size. The software makes ISO 11146 compliant laser beam propagation measurements using the Ultracal baseline correction algorithm. It also includes propagation curves of the X and Y axes, as well as averages and statistics for all calculations.

“There are many different ways for laser manufacturers to measure laser efficiency and many different values to check,” said Gary Wagner, General Manager (US), Ophir Photonics. “M-Squared measures how a laser beam behaves when focused with a lens and has become the KPI of the laser industry. Our new M2 Beam Propagation software is the only commercially available M2 analysis product that covers the difficult to reach UV and far IR spectral regions. Most analysis products cut off at 266nm in the UV. With the M2 Beam Propagation software and a Pyrocam camera, you can measure the performance of lasers with wavelengths as short as 13nm.”

The M2 Beam Propagation software works with the Pyrocam beam profiling cameras. They feature a sensitive, 160 x 160 pixel image array that can profile beams up to ½-inch (12.8mm) without the need for reduction optics. Both pulsed and CW (continuous wave) lasers can be measured, including CO2 lasers, telecom NIR lasers and THz sources. An integral focal plane chopper is included for CW beams and thermal imaging.

The Pyrocam cameras allow users to see the beam for dynamic alignment and proper operation. For high speed applications, they include an interface to GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) cameras. A 16-bit A/D converter provides reliable measurement and analysis of both large signals and low level signals in the wings of the laser beam. A signal to noise ratio of 1000:1 means beams of 30mW/cm2 are easily visible.

The Pyrocam is available in two versions - Pyrocam IVs and Pyrocam IIIHR, a smaller format OEM version. Pyrocam ships with the M2 Beam Propagation software and BeamGage, the company’s laser beam analysis software that includes more than 55 measurements and calculations, many based on ISO standards.

The M2 Beam Propagation Software for Pyrocam IIIHR and Pyrocam IVs pyroelectric laser beam profiling cameras are shipped as part of the camera systems.

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