Advanced LIGO subsystems
are the organizational units of the overall project. Follow the links below to view the mission and progress of each subsystem.

Auxiliary Optics Core Optics
Data Acquisition Data and
Input Optics

LIGO Technology Development and Migration

Explore the menu of case study links (left) to view impacts of LIGO technology across the broader science and engineering community.

Technology Type:  Lasers

Initial LIGO Diode-Pumped Solid State Laser

** Institutions:  Lightwave Electronics and LIGO Laboratory
** Contact:  Tom Kane  

        PO Box 50370 LLC Albuquerque, NM   87181

** Funding Agency:  National Science Foundation
** Technology Source:  Initial LIGO

[ltwave unit]Lightwave Electronics (LWE) Corporation, of Mountain View CA, built the 10-Watt Diode Laser Pumped Solid State Lasers used in the Initial LIGO (iLIGO) Prestabilized Laser System (PSL). This project benefited LWE in three ways. First, it allowed LWE to make improvements to their laser system components product line. Second, it allowed LWE to hire a talented individual who has since become a top performer as both an engineer and a product marketer. Third, it created a small but profitable business, as LWE sold LIGO-design lasers to other customers.

[tk]The design for the iLIGO laser used a Master Oscillator Power Amplifier (MOPA) approach using as the Master Oscillator the LWE Non Planar Ring Oscillator (NPRO) invented by Tom Kane (shown in photo). The Power amplifier was based on technology already working in the LWE labs when Kane wrote a proposal to LIGO to build iLIGO lasers. LWE had invented and was working to improve a new pumping laser geometry for coupling the pump light from broad-stripe semiconductor lasers into cylindrical Nd doped YAG laser amplifier rods. This geometry, called "side pumping," uses a "light trap" to make certain the pump light from the semiconductor lasers is efficiently absorbed in the laser amplifier rod. This innovation led to the development of a standard LWE component called a "side-pumped laser engine." Under contract to the LIGO project, LWE refined the basic laser engine technology and designed supporting components, such as the current- and temperature-control systems needed to make complete laser systems using the technology.

LWE sold about a dozen lasers of the exact iLIGO design but more importantly the firm went on to develop a new product line based on the improved "side-pumped laser engine," which sold several thousand lasers. Its greatest success is in materials processing using pulsed ultraviolet solid state lasers. LED chips, Intel microprocessors, and iPhone printed circuit boards are examples of devices manufactured using this technology. Our newly-hired engineer saw great commercial promise in the materials processing market and was able to turn this iLIGO technology into a long term successful commercial venture. He further emerged as both a technical and a marketing leader, pushing LWE forward in laser materials processing. In 2005, LWE was purchased by JDS Uniphase, primarily to obtain the successful LWE business in laser materials processing.

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