Research

Background What is a laser? Focused light with many uses

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  • December 04, 2013
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Stuttgart – Lasers are artificial sources of light that emit a very focused, and therefore very energy-rich, light. The technology has been around for more than 50 years. In a laser device, a crystal, for example, is charged with very powerful flashes of light. Physicists call this stimulation. The atoms in the crystal are then made to emit the absorbed energy in exactly equal “portions” of energy. This involves reflecting the light back and forth between two mirrors. This brings more and more energy “portions” together, until finally a part of the light escapes the laser device in the form of a beam. Unlike sunlight or other light sources, laser light has only one color, which varies according to the type of laser. In addition, the beams emitted by the laser run almost parallel to each other. The word laser is an acronym of “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”

Many applications
Since the 1960s, many different lasers have been developed with various colors (i.e. wavelengths) and therefore for various applications. These range from working on the lenses of eyes to correct poor vision to cutting thick sheets of steel to build huge ships. Satellites use lasers to exchange data over long distances, in DVD players they are used to read films or music, and tradesmen use them to measure houses.

One special application involves drilling minuscule holes or other structures into hard metal or other materials. In this case, it is not enough to simply aim the concentrated energy at the correct area and wait, since this would result in the metal getting hot and eventually melting. Such a process does produce holes, but with edges that are not clean, and therefore cannot be used. This is far from good enough for precise applications. To get round these problems, laser light has to be used in the form of incredibly short but extremely powerful pulses.

Ultrashort pulses
At Bosch, this is currently up to 800,000 light pulses per second. Each one of these heats a tiny area of metal to approximately 6,000 degrees Celsius (hotter than the temperature on the surface of the sun) so quickly that it evaporates immediately. In other words, the material hit by the laser beam simply doesn't have time to melt. Controlled by a special system of mirrors, the next pulse follows, hitting the area of metal immediately next to the first – and so on. In this way, hundreds of thousands of light pulses, each hitting a precisely defined position and having slightly different properties, create the tiny hole required, But of course, all this depends on know-how when it comes to controlling the laser perfectly – and Bosch has this know-how. This is a process that requires ultrashort laser pulses in the realms of

picoseconds      (0.000000000001 seconds) or even
femtoseconds    (0.000000000000001 seconds).

Internet
  • Information on lasers from the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft: http://bit.ly/15QrOgE
  • The inventors of the laser received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964, here is the address for the award: http://bit.ly/15iLg37
  • A film by the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung provides a good, comprehensive description of lasers: http://bit.ly/17pbrES
Click here to find further information.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com and www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

PI8326 - December 04, 2013

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