Brighter lasers

Scientists and engineers across Europe have joined forces in a collaborative effort to develop a new generation of high-brightness lasers.

The €16.25m (with €9.7m of European Commission funding) project called WWW.BRIGHTER.EU, which runs until September 2009, has brought 22 of Europe’s top research teams together from industry, research laboratories and academic institutions to make lasers smaller, brighter, more efficient, and cheaper.

The project name stands for ‘World Wide Welfare: High-Brightness Semiconductor Lasers for Generic Use’, and brings together partners from ten European countries. The WWW.BRIGHTER.EU collaboration builds upon the successful WWW.BRIGHT.EU project, which was completed in 2006.

The UK is represented in the BRIGHTER consortium by Nottingham University and Cambridge University.

The consortium aims to develop low-cost, high-brightness light sources for an extended range of colours (wavelengths) and to couple more light power into smaller diameter optical fibres. These improvements will, on one hand, allow the replacement of existing cumbersome and expensive laser sources, and on the other, create new markets for the devices.

‘There are huge markets for laser diode technology. There are a lot of applications that currently are not possible to address without high-powered diode lasers, either because of cost, colour or portability. The goal of this project is to develop new lasers with increased power and brightness,’ said project coordinator, Michel Krakowski of Alcatel-Thales III-V Lab in France.

In the UK, the Photonic and Radio Frequency Engineering Group at Nottingham University and the Centre for Photonics Systems at Cambridge University are European leaders in the modelling and design of high-power and high-brightness laser diodes.

‘Predictive laser diode modelling and design software is crucial for understanding the limitations of current laser diode technology and for the development of new structures with superior brightness,’ said Dr Slawomir Sujecki of Nottingham University, who is the leader of the laser design and simulation activities within the project.

Interested readers can find more information on the BRIGHTER project website at, where they can also ask to be put on the mailing list to receive the biannual e-newsletter.