Innovation and Partnerships Office

Ultrafast Optical Pulse Combining Lasers 2016-052


  • Laser-based accelerator facilities for scientific research
  • Short pulse micromachining


  • Enables fiber lasers to be used in high energy ultrafast applications
  • Can be added to existing laser technology without affecting size or reliability
  • Considerably reduces complexity of the combining optics
  • Decreases the negative effect of the many optics on the compressed pulse
  • Capable of high average power and high efficiency
  • More compact and stable than current options


Berkeley Lab researcher Russell Wilcox has developed a scalable device for combining tens or hundreds of pulsed, coherent, ultrafast (<<1 ps) lasers into a single pulsed, coherent, ultrafast high-power laser. The Berkeley Lab technology enhances the energy available from lasers, particularly fiber lasers, which are intrinsically limited in energy.

The Berkeley Lab invention uses diffractive optical elements to combine the individual lasers. The individual lasers are arrayed in parallel to each other and the combined laser. Each individual laser has a diffraction grating that allows for diffraction toward the convergence point. The convergence point has another diffraction grating to combine the incoming beams.

Currently there are other, more cumbersome methods of combining lasers using polarizing or non-polarizing beam splitters. Polarizing beamsplitters can only combine beams two at a time, requiring “trees” of them to combine many beams, while non-polarizing beamsplitters deal with the negative effect of dielectric coatings on the spectrum, in amplitude and phase. The Lab development allows for combination of tens of beams at a time, which is necessary when fiber lasers are needed to produce Joules of energy from hundreds of lasers. The Berkeley Lab technology overcomes these limitations, reducing the complexity of the combining optics and decreasing the negative effect of so many optics on the compressed pulse. Diffractive elements are also capable of high average power and high efficiency, as demonstrated in the continuous wave (CW) laser case. With fewer optics, the setup can be made more compact and stable, which is important for an interferometric application such as this.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.

STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.


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