Nanocomposite ceramics for high-power eye-safe lasers

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Lasers are a valuable tool with applications in industry, scientific research, and medicine. Examples include optical communications, surgery, dentistry, cancer treatment, spectroscopy, atmospheric sensing, and lidars (light radars). Lasers emitting in the mid-infrared range (2-6 μm) are also safe for the eye since wavelengths longer than 1.4 μm are absorbed by the anterior portion of the eye and never reach the retina, thus allowing the development of safe high-power lasers. One of the scientific trends in this field is the research for a promising host material with a high thermal conductivity, which would improve power scalability.

An international collaboration involving Czech, Romanian, Russian, and Ukrainian institutes synthesised new nanocomposite ceramics for potential laser applications. The composite material is based on yttrium and magnesium oxides doped by holmium ions (Ho3+:Y2O3–MgO) and is characterised by excellent mechanical and optical properties. The research, published in Ceramics International, was realised by Prof. Roman Yavetskiy (Institute for Single Crystals, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) and colleagues.

Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM), available at the Czech CERIC Partner Facility at Charles University in Prague, was employed to study the structural and chemical homogeneity of the nanocomposite material from which the optical properties depend. This method allowed to observe that the ceramics are characterised by a high density and the absence of open pores (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. FESEM 3 at.% Ho3+:Y2O3–MgO composite ceramics. Source: Ceramics International

This work demonstrated that the Ho3+:Y2O3–MgO nanocomposite ceramics are a promising material for high-power eye-safe lasers working in the range of 2 μm wavelengths with potential applications in several industrial, scientific, and medical sectors.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

A NOVEL IR-TRANSPARENT HO3+: Y2O3–MGO NANOCOMPOSITE CERAMICS FOR POTENTIAL LASER APPLICATIONS. SAFRONOVA N. A., YAVETSKIY R. P., KRYZHANOVSKA O. S., DOBROTVORSKA M. V., BALABANOV A. E., VORONA I. O., TOLMACHEV A. V., MATOLÍNOVÁ I., KOSYANOV D. YU., SHICHALIN O. O., PAPYNOV E. K., HAU S., & GHEORGHE C. (2021). CERAMICS INTERNATIONAL, 47(1), 1399-1406.