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Laser-focused power supply design advice

23 February 2022


Specialist advice is available from Relec Electronics for DC power requirements for semiconductor lasers.

Semiconductor lasers, such as diode lasers, require a reliable and stable source of dc power. Regardless of the size of the laser, its wavelength and intensity of the light are significantly affected by the voltage across the diode current. A small change in “V” can lead to a large change in “I”, which affects the quality of the light output.

Due to the fact that lasers diodes are extremely sensitive, and susceptible to damage from even the shortest of pulsed currents, they require an extremely stable power source, which can operate under both steady state and pulse load conditions.

One key feature to consider in specifying a power supply is low ripple. The power supply ripple voltage can cause significant changes in the current being driven through the diode. This can not only degrade the quality of the light output but can potentially cause catastrophic failure of the semiconductor element.

Next, consider transient response. This has to be extremely fast, more than typical commercial power supplies can provide. While overshoot can be minimised by slowing the time it takes for the output voltage and current to rise, this limits speed and precision.

The nature of laser diodes, means a long lifetime at pulsed load (0-100% load is essential. Operating under heavy pulse conditions can put a stress on semiconductor and capacitive elements in the power supply, so check that critical components are designed appropriately to deal with these electrical shocks.

Modular power supplies can make it easy for an OEM to build high power lasers for specific applications. It is also true that a modular power supply can be easily adapted to suit the needs of the drivers.

Voltage / current control of the power supply is an equally important consideration. Integrating digital control guarantees fast and reliable control of the power supply.

The power supply must also be inherently safe and have enough interlocks built-in to ensure it cannot provide too much power into the drivers.

A power supply specialist can advise designers on the most appropriate power supply to meet all the needs of a specific application. A good power supply specialist will be able to offer a range of high-power modular solutions from market leading, proven manufacturers in the field.

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