NMP-2008-4.0-4 Expanding the limits of advanced materials processing applications through a new generation of high brilliance lasers
Technical content/scope: Although Europe today is the leader in industrial laser processing, continuous innovation and adoption of novel technologies is required to defend this position. For unleashing the full potential of photonics in industrial production, a closed development cycle consisting of beam source, process and quality assurance has to be established. Further improvement of existing and the development of new laser beam sources as well as related technologies (e.g. beam delivery and beam manipulation) must be pursued, leading to systems of industrial grade for tomorrow's demands. This also includes further development of materials used in laser beam sources and optical systems. The interplay between laser beam, material and the surrounding atmosphere must also be understood. Finally, diagnostics must be incorporated for ensuring effective quality assurance for the process.
The main research challenges are: To expand the limits of advanced materials processing applications utilising laser technology; development of a new generation of low cost laser concepts with high brilliance, high efficiency and premium beam quality for industrial material processing applications.; development of optical-radiation-hard optical materials and functional tailored optical materials for improving the reliability of optical components. In addition, in order to integrate the above mentioned laser sources into material processing systems, suited beam delivery components and integrated advanced diagnostics are required.
Funding scheme: Large-scale integrating collaborative projects
Specific features: In order to ensure industrial relevance and impact of the research effort, the active participation of industrial partners represents an added value to the activities and this will be reflected in the evaluation. The following specific requirements will also be reflected in the evaluation: (i) as regards the S/T quality & objectives, the potential of the new generation laser system should be confirmed through application trials in processing of new materials or novel structures demonstrating also thorough understanding of the process behaviour; (ii) a further consideration for the S/T quality evaluation is that micro processing applications, as well as mature laser technologies, such as CO2 and Nd:YAG laser sources are not considered a priority.
Expected impact: The availability of new laser sources and associated equipment is expected to stimulate the continued growth of the world market for laser materials processing systems (EUR 5 billion in 2005, 14% growth over the last decade), thus benefiting European laser manufacturers and systems integrators. For the end users in all sectors of manufacturing, robust laser sources & systems, which exhibit broad tolerance windows, better wall-plug efficiency and increased reliability; offer the possibility of new applications and improving the productivity of existing ones.

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