Engineering Headlines

New World Record!The sharpest laser beam in the world

Researchers have succeeded in making one of the most precise tools even more precise.

They developed a laser beam, with which optical atomic clocks can be improved.

Laser beams are used for cutting metals as well as for measuring bridges or for attaching a detaching retina to the eye.

They are diverse and they are considered to be extremely precise.

But their potential is far from exhausted, as scientists from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) showed. They developed the hitherto sharpest laser beam in the world.

The world’s sharpest laser beam scatters only 10 milli-meters

Laser beams are nothing other than electromagnetic waves. Whoever makes this clear, the following is evident: The light emanating from lasers does not consist of a single frequency, but it differs.

This is not visible to the human eye, but it is measurable. It is called the line width.

The researchers of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), together with US scientists from an Institute of the University of Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have adopted a laser with a line width of only 10 milli-meters.

By way of comparison, previous lasers brought it to a line width of a few kilohertz, that is, the 100,000 fold width of the now developed laser.

The researchers were also able to significantly improve tact reality

The ultra-fast laser has not only a smaller spread, but also keeps the clock better than conventional lasers.

The researchers at PTB describe this as saying: “Although the light wave oscillates almost 200 trillion times per second, it does not get out of the clock after 11 seconds.

The radiated wave train has already reached a length of about 3.3 million kilometers. ”

The basis for this was a new resonator, produced by the researchers around the PTB physicist Thomas Legero from a silicon single crystal.

They have shielded so far from all environmental influences such as temperature and pressure changes that only the thermal movements of the atoms in the resonator remain.

In combination with a sophisticated stabilization electronics, the light frequency of the laser thus follows only the natural oscillation of the resonator.

Their results were published in the current issue of the Physical Review Letters.

Ultra-high precision for atomic clocks and astronomy

For some applications this extreme precision is necessary. For the next generation of atomic clocks currently under development: optical atomic clocks.

“The smaller the line width of the laser used, the more precisely the frequency of the atoms in an optical atomic clock can be determined.

With the new truck we are able to improve the quality of our watches, “says Legero. The optical atomic clocks at the PTB in Brunswick already benefit from the development.

The new laser is also to be used for precision measurements on ultra pure atoms, for tests of relativity theory and radio astronomy.

The newly discovered precision of the PTB and the Jila Community Institute represents at any rate a new world record and arouses hopes.

Tomorrow’s industry will also focus on precise lighting

Although the economy does not have to be as precise as it is for science, precise lighting tools cannot be imagined.

According to the Laser World Trend Index, every second industrial manager in Germany expects that light tools will replace mechanical material processing.

At least in the traditional manufacturing industries.

And three out of four companies are already using photonics and laser based systems to weld, cut or drill.

And why? Because it is considered extremely precise, say over 90% of respondents.


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