Laser Research

Fiber laser development to cut costs

November 23, 2016

  • CHINA developed its first 20,000-watt fiber laser, which will help to reduce the cost of such machines by 40 percent, the developer announced yesterday. Yan Dapeng, with the Fourth Research Institute of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, said the breakthrough had ended China’s dependence on foreign technology, adding that an imported machine of this kind costs more than 6 million yuan (US$870,000). The fiber laser was being assembled and was expected to be put into use by 2018.

Researchers demonstrate a single laser source scheme for studying topological matter in cold-atom systems

October 7, 2016

  • A team of researchers with members from several institutions in China has developed a new means for studying topological matter in cold-atom systems that involves using a single laser source. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes how the scheme works and outlines possible uses for it. Monika Aidelsburger with UPMC Sorbonne University offers an overview of the work done by the team in a Perspective piece in the same journal issue and offers some insight into some of the possible directions such research is going.

China Sells A New Laser Gun

September 22, 2016

  • Built as a joint venture by the Chinese Academy of Physics Engineering and Jiuyuan Hi Tech Equipment Corporation, and marketed by Poly Technologies, the Low Altitude Guard I first debuted in 2014. LAG I was marketed as a law enforcement/counter terrorism tool, using its electroptical sensors to target errant and rogue UAVs. By knocking small targets down using lasers, the changes of collateral damage were reduced compared to explosive anti-aircraft artillery or missiles. Compared with its predecessor, LAG II is more apparently militarized. Its range is doubled to 4 km and has a 300 percent increase in maximum power output to 30 kilowatts. That’s comparable to the Laser Weapons System (LAWS) installed on the USS Ponce, which has a range of 15-50 kilowatts for attacking UAVs, small boats, and helicopters.

Indium gallium nitride laser diode directly integrated with silicon

7 September 2016

  • Researchers in China have achieved continuous wave (cw) lasing at room temperature for indium gallium nitride (InGaN) laser diodes (LDs) grown directly on silicon (Si) [Yi Sun et al, Nature Photonics, 10, p595, 2016]. The team from Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics (SINANO), Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Wuhan University, comments: “With further improvements in the material quality, device performance and life-time, GaN-on-Si technology holds great promise for commercializing III-nitride laser diodes on large-diameter and cost-effective substrates. Moreover, by growing GaN upon Si(111)-on-insulator-Si(100), InGaN-based LDs could be a useful alternative on-chip light source for monolithic-integrated Si photonics.”

‘Seeding’ X-ray lasers with conventional lasers could enable new science

June 7, 2016

  • Researchers from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China have developed a method that could open up new scientific avenues by making the light from powerful X-ray lasers much more stable and its color more pure. The idea behind the technique is to “seed” X-ray lasers with regular lasers, whose light already has these qualities.

Chinese Scientists Develop Star Wars-Like Laser Guns

10 January 2016

  • China is well-known for investing in technological advancements – from space explorations to military warfare. In its latest groundbreaking invention, soldiers are now in possession of Star Wars-like laser guns. This laser gun could soon have the ability to attack heat-seeking sensors on missiles, satellites and other warfare using breakthrough portable-laser technology. When the laser comes in contact with infrared missiles, their sensors become disabled, rendering them useless. A team of Chinese researchers, led by Professor Zhi-Yuan Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics, decreased the size and mechanism that produces high-frequency laser down using a portable device the size of a suitcase. These can be easily mounted on tanks, aircrafts and can be used by the soldiers themselves.

China moves a big step closer to ‘Star Wars’ laser weapons

22 December, 2015

  • Mainland scientists claim they have developed the world’s most powerful supercapacitor, which could lead to advanced ‘Star Wars-type’ laser weapons. Now, a research team from Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences led by professor Huang Fuqiang has reported a breakthrough in capacitor technology. In a paper published in the latest issue of the journal Science, they describe how the power density of their supercapacitor can reach 26 kilowatts per kilogram, or 130 times that of lithium-ion batteries. The Yal-1 laser cannon required a power output of one megawatt. A capacitor required to meet that power demand, using conventional technology, would weigh more than 10 tonnes. Huang’s team’s new supercapacitor, in theory, would weigh 40kg.

Chinese Military Using Blinding Laser Weapons

December 22, 2015

  • “China has been updating its home-made blinding laser weapons in recent years to meet the needs of different combat operations,” the official military newspaper PLA Daily reported Dec. 9. “Blinding laser weapons are primarily used to blind … targets with laser[s] in [the] short distance, or interfere [with] and damage … laser and night vision equipment,” the brief photo report stated.

New Chinese Laser Weapon Stars On TV

November 25, 2015

  • Claimed to be China’s most powerful laser weapon in the public domain (there are reports of more powerful but classified anti-satellite lasers), the LAG II is built by the Chinese Academy of Physics Engineering and Jiuyuan High Tech Equipment Corporation. Similar in size to the U.S. Marines’ Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-The-Move, it is mounted on a wheeled, towed carriage that carries its turret, power components, which can be pulled by a light truck. The LAG II’s turret, when its protective dome retracts, uses its electro-optical sensor to acquire and track targets autonomously, before destroying it upon command from a human operator. The LAG II could be upgraded with datalinks to off vehicle radars, which would allow the engagement of higher speed targets like rocket artillery.

World’s strongest ‘death beam’ from China still can’t fry an egg, but it could blind an enemy drone

25 November, 2015

  • Researchers from Shanghai have created the most powerful laser beam ever made with potentially wide-ranging applications in fields from nuclear physics to high-tech weaponry, according to their paper published in the latest issue of the journal Optics Letters. The beam reached a peak power of 5.13 petawatts (1 petawatt is equal to 1 billion millions watts), dwarfing the record set recently by Japanese scientists.

Second harmonic generation in a high-Q crystal microresonator fabricated by femtosecond laser

November 5, 2015

  • Until recently, the fabrication of high-Q LN resonator typically relies on mechanical polishing approach, which often limits the diameter of resonator to millimeter scale, and makes an obstacle for further chip-level integrated applications. Recently technical advances in the fabrication have enabled realization of high-Q on-chip sub-100 µm LN resonators with Q-factors on the order of 105~106. In particular, a study fabricated high-Q on-chip sub-millimeter LN microresonators using femtosecond laser micromachining, followed by focused ion beam (FIB) milling and high temperature annealing to improve the Q factor to be 2.5×105 [J. Lin, et al., Sci. Rep. 5, 8072 (2015)]. Recently lately, The Q-factors of the fabricated LN microresonators were improved to be 2.45×106 at wavelengths around 1550 nm by optimizing the fabrication conditions. In addition, SHG with a normalized conversion efficiency of 1.35×10-5 /mW was demonstrated in LN microresonator under CW laser pumping condition.

Chinese military could soon disable sensors on enemy missiles using suitcase-sized device after ‘groundbreaking’ study on ultrafast lasers

22 September, 2015

  • A breakthrough in laser technology may give the Chinese military the ability to blind the sensors on enemy missiles or even satellites using a portable device the size of a suitcase, rather than the large container-sized version typically found on warships. A research team led by Professor Li Zhiyuan with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics reported that they had reduced the sophisticated mechanism that generates a high-frequency laser down to a single piece of crystal.

Powerful Lasers Shed Light On Vision

August 7, 2015

  • Using one of the brightest X-ray lasers in the world, researchers have determined the structure of a molecular complex that is responsible for regulating the vital physiological functions: G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Their research, published in Nature, provide scientists with a new model for major pharmacological drug targets. “GPCRs are major targets in the development of new therapies and account for almost 40 percent of current drug targets”, said Dr. H. Eric Xu, a professor from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China Joins the Laser Arms Race

July 30, 2015

  • A collaboration between the Academy and Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corporation, the Low Altitude Guard I is a 10 kilowatt laser meant to zap low flying drones up to 2 kilometers away. The Low Altitude Guard I’s electro-optical turret can see out to 5 kilometers. Promotional literature brags about its automated fire control– it’s able to identify and track rogue drones so that the operator only needs to press a firing button. The Low Altitude Guard’s small size allows for stealthy placement on high-rise buildings and around critical infrastructure like airports and dams. Lasers are also a cheaper and safer lethal air defense option, especially in urban areas, compared to cannons and missiles.

Israel-China boost financial protocol by $500 million

Jul 9, 2015

  • Israel and China are expanding by $500 million a protocol that helps to finance Israeli exports to China. The agreement, signed on Thursday, increases the financing available to $2.6 billion. It comes amid growing business ties between the two countries, as the Israeli government encourages companies to export to the East.

Laser technique for low-cost self-assembly of nanostructures

May 19, 2015

  • Researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).

Chinese Laser Zaps Space, for World Peace

December 24, 2014

  • The International Thirty Meter Telescope, based in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, observes the ultraviolet to mid-infrared wavelengths. With adaptive optics and high altitude location, the 30 meter wide optical lens is more than 100 times as sensitive as other existing optical telescopes. The $1 billion telescope is a highlight of international cooperation, with American, Canadian, Chinese, Indian and Japanese scientists all involved in its construction and operation. The Mianyang laser’s critical support role is to provide an accurate reference point in the sky during the telescope’s construction. This laser is certainly an example of Chinese contributions to space science that include space x-ray telescopes and lunar rovers. However, its accuracy and power could theoretically be applied to military purposes, such as anti-satellite and missile defense purposes.

Chinese scientists use laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy to identify toxic cooking ‘gutter oil’

August 26, 2014

  • Now scientists led by Professor Ding Hongbin at the Dalian University of Technology, in northeastern China, present a new means to confront this problem. In a study published in the Chinese Science Bulletin, Ding and fellow researchers at the university’s School of Physics and Optoelectronic Engineering outline the potential use of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to rapidly distinguish between “gutter oil” and safe, edible oil. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy is used to obtain spectral features of oil samples, which are subjected to principal component analysis (PCA). The researchers used an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) model during the analysis. This provides a new approach to detecting gutter oil efficiently and quickly.

China Launches Applicable Deep UV Laser Devices

  • Eight deep ultraviolet (DUV) solid-state laser devices, invented by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have recently passed testing, making China the only country in possession of such technology. “This is a successful example of China independently developing a sophisticated scientific instrument”, said the panel who acknowledged the achievement on September 6, 2013. CAS President BAI Chunli said the success embodied the Academy’s “dedication to major innovation and breakthrough in seeking development”. The use of potassium beryllium fluoroborate (KBBF) once bottlenecked the project. KBBF is a non-linear optical crystal that can transform laser light from near IR into DUV for use in solid state lasers. Nonetheless, it is very difficult to cut KBBF crystal along the phase-matching angle because it has a strong layer habit along the c-axis.

Scientific Innovation and China’s Military Modernization

September 03, 2013

  • The Shenguang (Divine Light) laser project explores the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) as an alternative approach to attain inertial fusion energy (IFE) – a controllable, sustained nuclear fusion reaction aided by an array of high-powered lasers. The lasers essentially heat and compress pellet-sized targets typically containing two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, sending shock waves into the center and releasing energy that heats the surrounding fuel, which may also undergo fusion. Shenguang aims to achieve such “burn” – fusion ignition and plasma burning by 2020, while advancing research in solving the complex technological challenges associated with controlling the nuclear reaction.

China launches first ever deep UV laser device

September 14, 2013

  • The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has launched a deep ultraviolet (DUV) solid-state laser device, making the country first-ever in the world to possess such technology. CAS President Bai Chunli said that the successful testing of the device suggests the academy’s dedication to major innovation and breakthrough in seeking development.

Laser Science in China: A rich history of photonics research continues to bear fruit at SIOM


  • Founded in May 1964, the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics (SIOM) has been widely recognized as the most important research center of laser science and technology in China. SIOM is one of approximately 100 institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and its origin lies with the laser research groups of the CAS institutes in Beijing and Changchun, where the first Chinese ruby laser oscillator was demonstrated in 1961.
  • SIOM has focused on the research and development of high-power laser technology and engineering for decades. In addition to the earlier achievements in the development of high-power laser technologies and facilities for laser fusion experiments, SIOM has developed in recent years the first Chinese multikilojoule laser facility, Shenguang (SG for short and means “magic light” in Mandarin)-II facility. The SG-II laser facility includes eight laser beams (Fig. 1) in two bundles and a multifunctional beam (the ninth beam). The time synchronization among laser beams is within 10 ps root-mean-square (RMS).
  • SIOM developed the first Chinese petawatt (PW) femtosecond laser facility in 2007 using a chirped pulse amplification (CPA) scheme. This laser system was recently upgraded to 2 PW based on a 100-mm dia. Ti:sapphire amplifier (see Fig. 2),2 which to our knowledge is the highest peak power ever achieved with a laser system. With a newly developed high-contrast broadband front end, the signal-to-noise ratio of the 26 fs long laser pulse was also improved.
  • The laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) can now produce multi-GeV electron beams on a much smaller scale than the conventional radiofrequency accelerators. Based on the tunnel-ionization-induced injection in the first stage, an all-optical cascaded LWFA with near-GeV quasi-monoenergetic electron beams (QMEBs) was first realized at SIOM.4 The collimated QMEBs with peak energy of ~0.8 GeV are achieved with an acceleration gradient of 187 GV/m.
  • SIOM has been developing space-borne solid-state lasers and lidar systems since 2001. To date, several lasers were implemented in lidar systems that are now in orbit. The first space-qualified solid-state laser was the transmitter of the laser altimeter on China’s lunar explorer Chang’E-1. This diode-pumped NdCr:YAG laser with pulse energy of 150 mJ at 1064 nm and pulse width of 5 ns was launched in 2007 and operated at 1 Hz repetition rate for ~16 months in orbit.
  • In recent years, SIOM’s research into cold-atom physics has mainly focused on the application of laser cooling techniques, including Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), atom chips, atom guiding with a radio-frequency field, atom interferometers, and strong coupling plasma physics in cold-atom systems. A rubidium (Rb) BEC was demonstrated in 2002 and a Rb BEC on an atom chip in 2008 (see Fig. 3).
  • Together with Hoya and Schott, SIOM is one of three global suppliers of large (up to 400 mm clear aperture) Nd-doped laser glass slabs, which are the key active material of high-power laser-fusion drivers. SIOM can provide commercial Nd:glass slabs up to 810 × 460 mm in size with a good wavefront performance (figure error less than 1/3 wavelength).