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Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Systems


  • Center Wavelength Options from 405 nm to 640 nm
  • Fixed or Adjustable Pulse Widths
  • Repetition Rates up to 10 MHz
  • Compact Laser System with Collimated Free Space Output

Application Idea

Adjust beam pointing angle tip and tilt when the laser (NPL52B shown) is mounted on the PY005 five-axis stage.

NPL52B

The drive electronics and temperature stabilization circuits for the laser diode are all integrated into the laser head.

Two ECM225 mounting clamps are included with each NPL Series laser.

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Key Specificationsa
Item # Center
Wavelengthb
Pulse
Widtha
Pulse
Energy
Peak
Power
Average
Power
Max Rep.
Rate
Internal
Trigger
NPL64A 640 nm 10 ns 0.12 nJ 13 mW 1.2 mW 10 MHz No
NPL41B 405 nm 6 to 38 ns 1.5 nJ 38 mW 15 mW 10 MHz Yes
NPL45B 450 nm 5 to 39 ns 3 nJ 75 mW 30 mW
NPL49B 488 nm 6 to 39 ns 2 nJ 50 mW 20 mW
NPL52B 520 nm 5 to 39 ns 1.2 nJ 30 mW 12 mW
NPL64B 640 nm 5 to 39 ns 2 nJ 50 mW 20 mW
NPL41C 405 nm 6 to 129 ns 128 nJ 1000 mW 6.4 mW 50 kHz No
NPL45C 450 nm 204 nJ 1600 mW 10.2 mW
NPL52C 520 nm 186 nJ 1500 mW 9.3 mW
NPL64C 640 nm 126 nJ 1000 mW 6.3 mW
  • Refer to the Specs tab for tolerances, graphs, and complete specifications.
  • ± 10 nm

Features

  • Typical Center Wavelength: 405 nm, 450 nm, 488 nm, 520 nm, or 640 nm
  • Drive and Temperature Stabilization Electronics Integrated into Laser Head
  • Fixed and Adjustable Pulse Width Models (See Table to the Right)
  • Models with Internal Triggering up to 10 MHz (Item #s Ending in B)
  • High-Power Models up to 1600 mW Peak Pulse Power (Item #s Ending in C)
  • Two ECM225 Clamps Included for Post Mounting the Laser Head
  • Replacement Power Supply Available

Thorlabs' Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode Systems are designed to provide a convenient, turn-key source of nanosecond pulse trains at repetition frequencies up to 10 MHz. These compact instruments consist of a laser head, an external +15 V power supply with location-specific plug, and two ECM225 mounting clamps. The drive electronics and temperature stabilization circuits for the laser diode are all integrated into the laser head, as are safety interlocks. A safety shutter can be rotated to cover the optical output port, as shown in the images below. The maximum peak pulse optical output powers vary from 13 mW to 1600 mW, depending on Item #, as specified in the table to the right.

Adjustable and Fixed Pulse Width Options
The NPL64A laser system provides fixed-width pulses with 10 ns typical durations in response to a user-supplied trigger signal input to the SMA connector on the back panel. Lasers with Item #s ending in B or C have user-adjustable pulse durations, as specified in the table to the right.

Triggering
All of these lasers support external triggering and require a trigger signal to generate laser pulses. External trigger signals have a maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms. Lasers with Item #s ending in B also feature an internal trigger which is described below. The repetition rate can be anything from a single shot up to the max repetition rate specified in the table to the upper right.

Lasers with internal triggers (Item #s ending in B) also feature internal oscillators that generate 1, 5, or 10 MHz frequency trigger signals, enabling these systems to produce stable trains of nanosecond laser pulses without an external trigger. The Rep Rate selector on the back panel allows the user to easily choose the desired internal or external trigger setting. Depending on the Rep Rate selector setting, the SMA connector on the back panel outputs a signal synchronized with the internally triggered pulses or accepts the user supplied trigger signal. For additional information, please see the Specs tab and the Back Panels tab.

Optical Emission
The optical output is a free-space beam collimated by an integrated aspheric collimating lens, which is positioned in a tube located behind the shutter. The lens position is factory set for a nominal divergence of about 1 mrad. The output beam is elliptical, as is typical of solid-state diode lasers that do not use anamorphic optical components to circularize the beam. If an application requires circularizing the beam, Thorlabs offers anamorphic elements, such as anamorphic prism pairs. Please see the Lab Facts tab above for more information on beam circularization techniques.

For fiber-coupled optical output options, we recommend choosing from our selection of coupling packages to accommodate the NPL series' larger beam diameter.

Output Power
The average optical output power of these laser systems is the product of the repetition rate, the pulse width, and the peak pulse power. The maximum average output power, which is specified in the table to the upper right, is factory-set for each unit while it operates at the maximum repetition rate and emits pulses of maximum width. By dividing this average power by the repetition rate and the pulse width, it is possible to estimate the peak pulse output power. However, there are unit-to-unit variations in the pulse width across a particular model. For Item #s ending in B or C, the peak output power may be up to 15% greater or 24% lower than the value given in the table to the upper right. Please note, as can be seen in the Typical Pulses plots below, that some short-duration pulses do not reach the maximum optical powers of longer-duration pulses. These pulses consequently have lower average output powers than longer-duration pulses.

Mounting the Laser Housing
The NPL series laser housings can be mounted to stages, bases, or posts using the two included ECM225 mounting clamps, each of which has three counterbores that accept 8-32 (M4) cap screws (not included). Use both clamps when mounting this laser, as this will protect against misalignment in the event that the laser is bumped. An applied force can cause rotation around a single point of contact, but rotation is resisted when there are two or more points of contact.

Before attaching the clamps to the laser housing, each clamp must first be screwed to the stage, base, or post. After this is done, loosen the 5/64" (2.0 mm) locking screw in each clamp, insert the laser housing into the clamps, and then tighten the locking screws on both clamps until the laser housing is held securely. Compatible mounting fixtures with tip and tilt (pitch and yaw) adjustment capability, which can be helpful when the application requires tuning laser beam pointing angle, include the PY005 (PY005/M) Five-Axis Stage and the TTR001 (TTR001/M) Tip, Tilt, and Rotation Stage. If desired, ECM175 mounting clamps, available below, can alternatively be used to mount the laser on its side.


Janis Valdmanis, Ph.D. Optics
Ultrafast Optoelectronics
General Manager

We Design, Develop, and Manufacture
Equipment up to 70 GHz

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Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Shutter
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The shutter rotates open (left) and closed (right) and is held in position by magnets built into the shutter fixture. When the shutter is closed, the target on the cover indicates the approximate location of the beam.
MTD415L Temperature Controller
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The MTD415L Temperature Controller regulates the temperature of the laser diode to stabilize optical output power and wavelength.
Item # NPL64A NPL41B NPL45B NPL49B NPL52B NPL64B NPL41C NPL45C NPL52C NPL64C
Center Wavelength (Typical) 640 ± 10 nm 405 ± 10 nm 450 ± 10 nm 488 ± 10 nm 520 ± 10 nm 640 ± 10 nm 405 ± 10 nm 450 ± 10 nm 520 ± 10 nm 640 ± 10 nm
Pulse Width
(FWHM)
Min, Setting 1a 10 ± 1 nsb 6 ± 1 ns 5 ± 1 ns 6 ± 1 ns 5 ± 1 ns 6 ± 1 ns
Max, Setting 16a 38 ± 3 ns 39 ± 3 ns 39 ± 3 ns 39 ± 3 ns 129 ± 5 ns
Typical Pulse Width vs.
Control Settinga,c
N/Ab
Typical Pulsesc
Internal Trigger No Yes (1, 5, or 10 MHz) No
Max Trigger Frequencyd
10 MHz 50 kHz
Average Power (Max)e
1.2 mW 15 mW 30 mW 20 mW 12 mW 20 mW 6.4 mW 10.2 mW 9.3 mW 6.3 mW
Peak Power (Typical Max)f
13 mW 38 mW 75 mW 50 mW 30 mW 50 mW 1000 mW 1600 mW 1500 mW 1000 mW
Pulse Energy (Typical Max)e
0.12 nJ 1.50 nJ 3.00 nJ 2.00 nJ 1.20 nJ 2.00 nJ 128 nJ 204 nJ 186 nJ 126 nJ
Output Spectrum (Typical)c
NPL64A Typical Spectrum NPL41B Typical Spectrum NPL45B Typical Spectrum NPL49B Typical Spectrum NPL52B Typical Spectrum NPL64B Typical Spectrum NPL41C Typical Spectrum NPL45C Typical Spectrum NPL52C Typical Spectrum NPL64C Typical Spectrum
Beam Pointing Accuracyg ≤3°
Beam
Divergenceh
(1/e2),
Typical
Major Axis 1.5 mrad 0.5 mrad 0.5 mrad 0.8 mrad 1.5 mrad 1.5 mrad 4.9 mrad 2.4 mrad 3.7 mrad 10.2 mrad
Minor Axis 0.5 mrad 0.3 mrad 0.25 mrad 0.4 mrad 0.5 mrad 0.5 mrad 0.2 mrad 0.14 mrad 0.6 mrad 0.5 mrad
Beam
Full Widthh
(1/e2) at
5.0 m
Major Axis 5.3 mm 2.5 mm 3.3 mm 2.9 mm 3.2 mm 4.8 mm 21 mm 19.2 mm 16.5 mm 43 mm
Minor Axis 2.1 mm 1.7 mm 1.6 mm 1.9 mm 2.0 mm 2.7 mm 1 mm 1.3 mm 1.9 mm 1.2 mm
Aspheric Collimating Lens C340TMD-B C610TME-A C340TMD-B C610TME-A C610TME-B
Output Beam Image (Typical)i NPL Typical Beam
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j
NPL Typical Beam
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k
NPL Typical Beam
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k
NPL Typical Beam
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k
NPL Typical Beam
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k
  • The pulse widths of the lasers with Item #s ending in B or C are adjustable over 16 discrete settings, from the minimum to the maximum specified widths. These settings are approximately equally spaced. Please see the Typical Pulse(s) rows for plots of typical pulses.
  • The NPL64A laser outputs fixed width pulses. Please see the Typical Pulses row for a plot of a typical pulse.
  • Click on the icons to see plots of typical performance for each laser.
  • The maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms.
  • This specification is given for operation at the max repetition rate and with the greatest pulse width achievable by the laser.
  • These specifications are typical maxima and are given for pulses that reach maximum output power. Some short duration pulses do not reach maximum output power (see Typical Pulses plots) and therefore have reduced average output powers.
  • Relative to a beam axis normal to the plane of the front panel. Please see the Mounting tab for mounts and stages that can be used to adjust the beam pointing tip and tilt angles.
  • The major axis of the ellipse is vertically oriented when the bottom surface of the laser head is in the horizontal plane.
  • The output beam is elliptical, as is typical of solid-state diode lasers that do not use anamorphic optical components to circularize the beam. Please see the Lab Facts tab above for more information on beam circularization techniques.
  • Image of the beam projected onto a translucent screen located 10 m from the laser output.
  • Image of the beam projected onto a translucent screen located 5 m from the laser output.
Trigger Specifications
Coupling AC Coupled
Max Input
Frequencya
Item #s Ending in A or B 10 MHz
Item #s Ending in C 50 kHz
Input Voltage 200 mVpp to 2 Vpp
Input Impedance 5 kΩ
Output Voltageb 900 mV (Hi-Z Load)
600 mV (50 Ω Load)
Max Jitterc 20 ps RMS
100 ps Peak-to-Peak
Delayd From External Trigger Input to Optical Output 35 ± 5 ns
From Internal Trigger Output to Optical Outputb 28 ± 5 ns
  • The maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms.
  • Only for Item #s Ending in B
  • Applies to external triggering (all Item #s) and internal triggering (only Item #s ending in B)
  • Trigger delay is measured between the SMA connector and the optical output at the lens.
NPL Block Diagram
Click to Enlarge

Block diagram depicting the internal architecture of the laser head, which contains the pulser drive electronics, safety interlocks, trigger circuits, and temperature stabilization system. The dual-color (red/blue) LED status indicator is designed to be visible through most laser safety glasses.
Power Specifications
DC Input Voltage Range to Laser Head 14 to 16 V
DC Input Current to Laser Head (Max) 800 mA
AC Input Frequency Range to Power Supply 50 - 60 Hz
AC Input Voltage to Power Supply 100 to 240 V
Environmental and Physical Specifications
Operating Temperature Range 10 to 40 °C
Storage Temperature Range 0 to 50 °C
Humidity Range (RH) 5 - 85%
Trigger Connector on Back Panela Female SMA
Power Connector on Laser Head Male Mini-XLR Type
Maximum Dimensions without ECM225 Clamps 139.6 mm x 61.5 mm x 48.7 mm
(5.49" x 2.42" x 1.92")
Maximum Dimensions with ECM225 Clamps 139.6 mm x 61.5 mm x 54.7 mm
(5.49" x 2.42" x 2.15")
  • Input Only for NPL64A and Item #s Ending in C; Input/Output for Item #s Ending in B

Back Panels of the Pulsed Laser Systems

NPL64A Back Panel
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NPL64A Back Panel
Callout Description
A1 Power Key Switch
A2 LED Laser Status Indicator, Dual Color (Red/Blue)
A3 Male Mini-XLR Connector for the +15 V Power Supply Jack
A4 2.5 mm Mono Phono Interlock Jack, Interlock Pin Installed
A5 Female SMA Connector for the Trigger In Connector

Back Panel of Item #s Ending in B
Click to Enlarge

Back Panel of Item #s Ending in B
Callout Description
B1 Power Key Switch
B2 LED Laser Status Indicator, Dual Color (Red/Blue)
B3 Pulse Width Selectora
B4 Male Mini-XLR Connector for the +15 V Power Supply Jack
B5 2.5 mm Mono Phono Interlock Jack, Interlock Pin Installed
B6 Chart of Repetition Rate Options vs. Selector Settings
B7 Repetition Rate Selectora
B8 Female SMA Connector for the Trigger In/Trigger Out Connector
  • Adjustable using the included 2 mm flathead screwdriver.

Back Panel of Item #s Ending in C
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Back Panel of Item #s Ending in C
Callout Description
C1 Power Key Switch
C2 LED Laser Status Indicator, Dual Color (Red/Blue)
C3 Pulse Width Selectora
C4 Male Mini-XLR Connector for the +15 V Power Supply Jack
C5 2.5 mm Mono Phono Interlock Jack, Interlock Pin Installed
C6 Female SMA Connector for the Trigger In Connector
  • Adjustable using the included 2 mm flathead screwdriver.

Components Included in Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Systems 

NPL64A Laser System Components
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Item # Shown: NPL64A

Systems with Item #s Ending in A

  • Laser Head with Integrated Drive Electronics and Temperature Stabilization Circuits
  • DS15 +15 V Power Supply with Mini-XLR Type Connector and Location-Specific Plug
  • Two ECM225 Aluminum Clamps
  • Interlock Pin Installed in Interlock Port (Not Shown)
  • Set of Keys for the Key Switch (Not Shown)
  • Quick Start and Safety Guide (Not Shown)
 
NPL64B Laser System Components
Click to Enlarge

Item # Shown: NPL64B

Systems with Item #s Ending in B or C

  • Laser Head with Integrated Drive Electronics and Temperature Stabilization Circuits
  • DS15 +15 V Power Supply with Mini-XLR Type Connector and Location-Specific Plug
  • Two ECM225 Aluminum Clamps
  • Interlock Pin Installed in Interlock Port (Not Shown)
  • Set of Keys for the Key Switch (Not Shown)
  • A Flathead Screwdriver with a 2 mm Edge
  • Quick Start and Safety Guide (Not Shown)

Laser Safety and Classification

Safe practices and proper usage of safety equipment should be taken into consideration when operating lasers. The eye is susceptible to injury, even from very low levels of laser light. Thorlabs offers a range of laser safety accessories that can be used to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Laser emission in the visible and near infrared spectral ranges has the greatest potential for retinal injury, as the cornea and lens are transparent to those wavelengths, and the lens can focus the laser energy onto the retina. 

Laser Glasses Blackout Materials Enclosure Systems
Laser Viewing Cards Alignment Tools Shutter and Controllers
Laser Safety Signs

Safe Practices and Light Safety Accessories

  • Thorlabs recommends the use of safety eyewear whenever working with laser beams with non-negligible powers (i.e., > Class 1) since metallic tools such as screwdrivers can accidentally redirect a beam.
  • Laser goggles designed for specific wavelengths should be clearly available near laser setups to protect the wearer from unintentional laser reflections.
  • Goggles are marked with the wavelength range over which protection is afforded and the minimum optical density within that range.
  • Blackout Materials can prevent direct or reflected light from leaving the experimental setup area.
  • Thorlabs' Enclosure Systems can be used to contain optical setups to isolate or minimize laser hazards.
  • A fiber-pigtailed laser should always be turned off before connecting it to or disconnecting it from another fiber, especially when the laser is at power levels above 10 mW.
  • All beams should be terminated at the edge of the table, and laboratory doors should be closed whenever a laser is in use.
  • Do not place laser beams at eye level.
  • Carry out experiments on an optical table such that all laser beams travel horizontally.
  • Remove unnecessary reflective items such as reflective jewelry (e.g., rings, watches, etc.) while working near the beam path.
  • Be aware that lenses and other optical devices may reflect a portion of the incident beam from the front or rear surface.
  • Operate a laser at the minimum power necessary for any operation.
  • If possible, reduce the output power of a laser during alignment procedures.
  • Use beam shutters and filters to reduce the beam power.
  • Post appropriate warning signs or labels near laser setups or rooms.
  • Use a laser sign with a lightbox if operating Class 3R or 4 lasers (i.e., lasers requiring the use of a safety interlock).
  • Do not use Laser Viewing Cards in place of a proper Beam Trap.

 

Laser Classification

Lasers are categorized into different classes according to their ability to cause eye and other damage. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The IEC document 60825-1 outlines the safety of laser products. A description of each class of laser is given below:

Class Description Warning Label
1 This class of laser is safe under all conditions of normal use, including use with optical instruments for intrabeam viewing. Lasers in this class do not emit radiation at levels that may cause injury during normal operation, and therefore the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) cannot be exceeded. Class 1 lasers can also include enclosed, high-power lasers where exposure to the radiation is not possible without opening or shutting down the laser.  Class 1
1M Class 1M lasers are safe except when used in conjunction with optical components such as telescopes and microscopes. Lasers belonging to this class emit large-diameter or divergent beams, and the MPE cannot normally be exceeded unless focusing or imaging optics are used to narrow the beam. However, if the beam is refocused, the hazard may be increased and the class may be changed accordingly.  Class 1M
2 Class 2 lasers, which are limited to 1 mW of visible continuous-wave radiation, are safe because the blink reflex will limit the exposure in the eye to 0.25 seconds. This category only applies to visible radiation (400 - 700 nm).  Class 2
2M Because of the blink reflex, this class of laser is classified as safe as long as the beam is not viewed through optical instruments. This laser class also applies to larger-diameter or diverging laser beams.  Class 2M
3R Lasers in this class are considered safe as long as they are handled with restricted beam viewing. The MPE can be exceeded with this class of laser, however, this presents a low risk level to injury. Visible, continuous-wave lasers are limited to 5 mW of output power in this class.  Class 3R
3B Class 3B lasers are hazardous to the eye if exposed directly. However, diffuse reflections are not harmful. Safe handling of devices in this class includes wearing protective eyewear where direct viewing of the laser beam may occur. In addition, laser safety signs lightboxes should be used with lasers that require a safety interlock so that the laser cannot be used without the safety light turning on. Class-3B lasers must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock.  Class 3B
4 This class of laser may cause damage to the skin, and also to the eye, even from the viewing of diffuse reflections. These hazards may also apply to indirect or non-specular reflections of the beam, even from apparently matte surfaces. Great care must be taken when handling these lasers. They also represent a fire risk, because they may ignite combustible material. Class 4 lasers must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock.  Class 4
All class 2 lasers (and higher) must display, in addition to the corresponding sign above, this triangular warning sign  Warning Symbol

Janis Valdmanis, Ph.D. Optics
Ultrafast Optoelectronics
General Manager

Custom and OEM Options

When your application requirements are not met by our range of catalog products or their variety of user-configurable features, please contact me to discuss how we may serve your custom or OEM needs.  

Request a Demo Unit

Explore the benefits of using a Thorlabs high-speed instrument in your setup and under your test conditions with a demo unit. Contact me for details.

Contact Me
MX40B with cover removed
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 The MX40B Digital Reference Transmitter

Design, Manufacturing, and Testing Capabilities

Thorlabs' Ultrafast Optoelectronics Team designs, develops, and manufactures high-speed components and instrumentation for a variety of photonics applications having frequency responses up to 70 GHz. Our extensive experience in high-speed photonics is supported by core expertise in RF/microwave design, optics, fiber optics, optomechanical design, and mixed-signal electronics. As a division of Thorlabs, a company with deep vertical integration and a portfolio of over 20,000 products, we are able to provide and support a wide selection of equipment and continually expand our offerings.

Our catalog and custom products include a range of integrated fiber-optic transmitters, modulator drivers and controllers, detectors, receivers, pulsed lasers, variable optical attenuators, and a variety of accessories. Beyond these products, we welcome opportunities to design and produce custom and OEM products that fall within our range of capabilities and expertise. Some of our key capabilities are:

  • Detector and Receiver Design, to 70 GHz
  • Fiber-Optic Transmitter Design, to 70 GHz
  • RF & Microwave Design and Simulation
  • Design of Fiber-Optic and Photonics Sub-Assemblies
  • High-Speed Testing, to 70 GHz
  • Micro-Assembly and Wire Bonding
  • Hermetic Sealing of Microwave Modules
  • Fiber Splicing of Assemblies
  • Custom Laser Engraving
  • Qualification Testing

Overview of Custom and Catalog Products  

Our catalog product line includes a range of integrated fiber-optic transmitters, modulator drivers and controllers, detectors, pulsed lasers, and accessories. In addition to these, we offer related items, such as receivers and customized catalog products. The following sections give an overview of our spectrum of custom and catalog products, from fully integrated instruments to component-level modules.  

Fiber-Optic Instruments

To meet a range of requirements, our fiber-optic instruments span a variety of integration levels. Each complete transmitter includes a tunable laser, a modulator with driver amplifier and bias controller, full control of optical output power, and an intuitive touchscreen interface. The tunable lasers, modulator drivers, and modulator bias controllers are also available separately. These instruments have full remote control capability and can be addressed using serial commands sent from a PC.

  • Fiber-Optic Transmitters, to 70 GHz
  • Linear and Digital Transmitters
  • Electrical-to-Optical Converters, to 70 GHz
  • Modulator Drivers
  • Modulator Bias Controllers
  • C- and L-Band Tunable Lasers 

Customization options include internal laser sources, operating wavelength ranges, optical fiber types, and amplifier types.

Fiber-Optic Components

Our component-level, custom and catalog fiber-optic products take advantage of our module design and hermetic sealing capability. Products include detectors with frequency responses up to 50 GHz, and we also specialize in developing fiber-optic receivers, operating up to and beyond 40 GHz, for instrumentation markets. Closely related products include our amplifier modules, which we offer upon request, variable optical attenuators, microwave cables, and cable accessories.

  • Hermetically-Sealed Detectors, to 50 GHz
  • Fiber-Optic Receivers, to 40 GHz
  • Amplifier Modules
  • Electronic Variable Optical Attenuators
  • Microwave Cables and Accessories 

Customization options include single mode and multimode optical fiber options, where applicable, and detectors optimized for time or frequency domain operation.

Free-Space Instruments

Our free-space instruments include detectors with frequency responses around 1 GHz and pulsed lasers. Our pulsed lasers generate variable-width, nanosecond-duration pulses, and a range of models with different wavelengths and optical output powers are offered. User-adjustable repetition rates and trigger in/out signals provide additional flexibility, and electronic delay-line products enable experimental synchronization of multiple lasers. We can also adapt our pulsed laser catalog offerings to provide gain-switching capability for the generation of pulses in the 100 ps range.

  • Pulsed Lasers with Fixed 10 ns Pulse Duration
  • Pulsed Lasers with Variable Pulse Width and Repetition Rates
  • Electronic Delay Units to Synchronize NPL Series Pulsed Lasers
  • Amplified Detectors

Customization options for the pulsed lasers include emission wavelength, optical output powers, and sub-nanosecond pulse widths.

Beam Circularization Setup
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 Figure 1: The beam circularization systems were placed in the area of the experimental setup highlighted by the yellow rectangle.
Spatial Filter Setup
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Figure 4: Spatial Filter System
Anamorphic Prism Pair Setup
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Figure 3: Anamorphic Prism Pair System
Cylindrical Lens Pair Setup
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Figure 2: Cylindrical Lens Pair System

Comparison of Circularization Techniques for Elliptical Beams

Edge-emitting laser diodes emit elliptical beams as a consequence of the rectangular cross sections of their emission apertures. The component of the beam corresponding to the narrower dimension of the aperture has a greater divergence angle than the orthogonal beam component. As one component diverges more rapidly than the other, the beam shape is elliptical rather than circular. 

Elliptical beam shapes can be undesirable, as the spot size of the focused beam is larger than if the beam were circular, and as larger spot sizes have lower irradiances (power per area). Techniques for circularizing an elliptical beam include those based on a pair of cylindrical lenses, an anamorphic prism pair, or a spatial filter. This work investigated all three approaches. The characteristics of the circularized beams were evaluated by performing M2 measurements, wavefront measurements, and measuring the transmitted power. 

While it was demonstrated that each circularization technique improves the circularity of the elliptical input beam, each technique was shown to provide a different balance of circularization, beam quality, and transmitted power. The results of this work, which are documented in this Lab Fact, indicate that an application's specific requirements will determine which is the best circularization technique to choose.

Experimental Design and Setup

The experimental setup is shown in Figure 1. The elliptically-shaped, collimated beam of a temperature-stabilized 670 nm laser diode was input to each of our circularization systems shown in Figures 2 through 4. Collimation results in a low-divergence beam, but it does not affect the beam shape. Each system was based on one of the following:

  • LJ1874L2-A and LJ1638L1-A Plano-Convex Convex Cylindrical Lenses (Figure 2)
  • PS873-A Unmounted Anamorphic Prism Pair (Figure 3)
  • KT310 Spatial Filter System with P5S Ø5 µm Pinhole (Figure 4)

The beam circularization systems, shown to the right, were placed, one at a time, in the vacant spot in the setup highlighted by the yellow rectangle. With this arrangement, it was possible to use the same experimental conditions when evaluating each circularization technique, which allowed the performance of each to be directly compared with the others. This experimental constraint required the use of fixturing that was not optimally compact, as well as the use of an unmounted anamorphic prism pair, instead of a more convenient mounted and pre-aligned anamorphic prism pair.

The characteristics of the beams output by the different circularization systems were evaluated by making measurements using a power meter, a wavefront sensor, and an M2 system. In the image of the experimental setup, all of these systems are shown on the right side of the table for illustrative purposes; they were used one at a time. The power meter was used to determine how much the beam circularization system attenuated the intensity of the input laser beam. The wavefront sensor provided a way to measure the abberations of the output beam. The M2 system measurement describes the resemblence of the output beam to a Gaussian beam. Ideally, the circularization systems would not attenuate or abberate the laser beam, and they would output a perfectly Gaussian beam. 

Edge-emitting laser diodes also emit astigmatic beams, and it can be desirable to force the displaced focal points of the orthogonal beam components to overlap. Of the three circularization techniques investigated in this work, only the cylindrical lens pair can also compensate for astigmatism. The displacement between the focal spots of the orthogonal beam components were measured for each circularization technique. In the case of the cylindrical lens pair, their configuration was tuned to minimize the astigmatism in the laser beam. The astigmatism was reported as a normalized quantity.

Experimental Results

The experimental results are summarized in the following table, in which the green cells identify the best result in each category. Each circularization approach has its benefits. The best circularization technique for an application is determined by the system’s requirements for beam quality, transmitted optical power, and setup constraints. 

Spatial filtering significantly improved the circularity and quality of the beam, but the beam had low transmitted power. The cylindrical lens pair provided a well-circularized beam and balanced circularization and beam quality with transmitted power. In addition, the cylindrical lens pair compensated for much of the beam's astigmatism. The circularity of the beam provided by the anamorphic prism pair compared well to that of the cylindrical lens pair. The beam output from the prisms had better M2 values and less wavefront error than the cylindrical lenses, but the transmitted power was lower. 

Method Beam Intensity Profile Circularitya M2 Values RMS Wavefront Transmitted Power Normalized 
Astigmatismb
Collimated Source Output
(No Circularization Technique)
Collimated
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Scale in Microns
0.36 X Axis: 1.28
Y Axis: 1.63
0.17 Not Applicable 0.67
Cylindrical Lens Pair Cylindrical
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Scale in Microns
0.84 X Axis: 1.90
Y Axis: 1.93
0.30 91% 0.06
Anamorphic Prism Pair
Anamorphic
Click to Enlarge

Scale in Microns
0.82 X Axis: 1.60
Y Axis: 1.46
0.16 80% 1.25
Spatial Filter Spatial
Click to Enlarge

Scale in Microns
0.93 X Axis: 1.05
Y Axis: 1.10
0.10 34% 0.36
  • Circularity=dminor/dmajor, where dminor and dmajor are minor and major diameters of fitted ellipse (1/e intensity) and Circularity = 1 indicates a perfectly circular beam.
  • Normalized astigmatism is the difference in the waist positions of the two orthogonal components of the beam, divided by the Raleigh length of the beam component with the smaller waist.

Components used in each circularization system were chosen to allow the same experimental setup be used for all experiments. This had the desired effect of allowing the results of all circularization techniques to be directly compared; however, optimizing the setup for a circularization technique could have improved its performance. The mounts used for the collimating lens and the anamorphic prism pair enabled easy manipulation and integration into this experimental system. It is possible that using smaller mounts would improve results by allowing the members of each pair to be more precisely positioned with respect to one another. In addition, using made-to-order cylindrical lenses with customized focal lengths may have improved the results of the cylindrical lens pair circularization system. All results may have been affected by the use of the beam profiler software algorithm to determine the beam radii used in the circularity calculation.

Additional Information

Some information describing selection and configuration procedures for several components used in this experimental work can be accessed by clicking the following hyperlinks: 


Posted Comments:
K. Morgan  (posted 2019-04-19 17:15:12.963)
What is the output polarization of the beam?
YLohia  (posted 2019-04-22 10:57:51.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The output of these lasers is linearly polarized. When we build our NPLs, we align the ellipticity of the beam to the housing with ±5 degrees accuracy. Polarization follows this, so the NPLCs are vertically polarized with respect to the housing. We have measured the PER to be > 100:1 (and as high as 500:1 for the NPL41C and NPL52B).
chien  (posted 2018-07-10 12:30:30.163)
We would like to use the NPL41B with a wave guide. I found that the output of NPL41B has SM05 series internal thread. Do you have a wave guide that I can use? I could not find an appropriate one on your site. Thanks alo. Best regards,
YLohia  (posted 2018-07-10 09:08:40.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. You may use one of our modules from this page (https://www.thorlabs.com/navigation.cfm?guide_id=27) to couple the light into a fiber of your choice. I will reach out to you directly to discuss your specific requirements for a particular part recommendation.
aspitarte  (posted 2018-05-01 11:14:27.127)
Hi, Can you answer the questions about the safety compliance of these lasers and the power supply? Is device classified per Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH)? Is device listed / approved by an (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) NRTL*?
YLohia  (posted 2018-05-01 04:19:51.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The lasers shown on this page are classified with the CDRH and have accession numbers. The FDA Accession Number for the NPL64A is 1710115-000. The products themselves are currently not tested by an NRTL. However, the power supplies for these lasers do have NRTL certifications. The DS15 power supply used in the NPL family of products is UL Listed. I have reached out to you directly with additional information about these certifications.
wenzel.jakob  (posted 2017-11-28 20:12:52.39)
Could you provide information on the on the dimensions of the beam if collimated using the included lens? (I am primarily interested in the 405nm device, i.e. NPL41B)
tfrisch  (posted 2017-12-06 04:10:31.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The NPL41B has a typical beam size of 4mmx2.5mm at 20ft.
h.wu  (posted 2017-11-01 10:13:17.097)
Could I set the repetition rate to be 1 ~ 20 Hz by an external trigger? Thank you.
tfrisch  (posted 2017-12-19 02:43:09.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. Those slow rep rates would be achievable as long as the triggering edge has a transition time of 1ms or less. I will reach out to you to discuss your application.
jonas.wietek  (posted 2017-08-03 21:02:00.107)
is it possible to somehow only get a single laser pulse?
tfrisch  (posted 2017-08-17 03:59:23.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The trigger can be used to produce a single pulse. The pulse width may be slightly different for a single pulse compared to a high rep rate pulse. I will reach out to you directly to discuss your application.
pavel.psota  (posted 2017-05-07 17:04:31.84)
Dear madam or sir, I join the previous question considering spectral bandwidth? Is the source suitable for interferometric applications? Thank you. Regards,Pavel
tfrisch  (posted 2017-05-18 05:13:32.0)
Hello Pavel, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The bandwidths of these lasers are a few nm, so whether they can be used in an interferometric application depends on the coherence length required. I will reach out to you to share spectral data we have collected, and I expect we will publish similar curves to our webpage soon.
ahmed  (posted 2017-03-26 05:05:01.763)
Dear Sir/Madam regarding your product (NPL64B) Nanosecond Pulsed Lasers. Kindly can you provide me with the spectral bandwidth in nanometer for this laser? and if you can provide me with an image for the optical spectrum analyzer signal for the same laser. Thank you in advance for your help Best Regards
tfrisch  (posted 2017-04-18 03:12:34.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The diode inside is a Fabry-Perot laser diode with several modes. I will contact you directly with more information.
mojtaba.zamani.a  (posted 2017-02-23 03:13:02.39)
Its nice to see these new grate products.well done!
tfrisch  (posted 2017-03-03 07:57:23.0)
Hello, thank you for your feedback, it is good to know these will be useful in customer applications.

Pulsed Laser with Fixed Pulse Width: 10 ns, Pulse Energy: 0.12 nJ

Back Panel of the NPL64A
Click to Enlarge

Back Panel (See the Back Panels Tab for Additional Information)
  • Typical Center Wavelength: 640 nm ± 10 nm
  • Fixed 10 ns Pulse Width
  • User-Supplied External Trigger Required to Generate Pulses
  • Trigger Signal Input via SMA Connector on Back Panel
  • 10 MHz Max Repetition Rate

This 640 nm wavelength pulsed laser system outputs fixed-duration 10 ns pulses in response to a user-supplied trigger input sent to the Trigger In port on the back panel of the laser head (shown to the right). Pulses may be triggered at rates up to 10 MHz. A typical pulse is located in the table below. Please see the Back Panels tab and manual for more information about the back panel features.

The aspheric lens integrated into the laser head is factory set to collimate the optical output. These laser systems include the laser head, a +15 V power supply, and two ECM225 clamps for post mounting the laser head. Please see the Shipping List tab for a complete list of included components.

Key Specificationsa
Item # Center
Wavelength (Typ.)
Output
Spectrum (Typ.)
Pulse
Width
Typical
Pulse
Pulse Energy
(Typ. Max)b
Peak Power
(Typ. Max)c,d
Average Power
(Max)b,d
External Trigger
Frequency (Max)e
Internal Trigger
NPL64A 640 ± 10 nm 10 ns 0.12 nJ 13 mW 1.2 mW 10 MHz No
  • Refer to the Specs tab for complete specifications.
  • This specification is given for operation at 10 MHz.
  • These specifications are typical maxima and are given for pulses that reach maximum output power.
  • Some short duration pulses do not reach maximum output power, and therefore have reduced average output powers.
  • The maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
NPL64A Support Documentation
NPL64ANanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 640 nm, 10 ns Fixed Pulse Width
$921.85
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Pulsed Lasers with Adjustable Pulse Width: 5 - 39 ns, Pulse Energy: 1.2 - 3 nJ

Back Panel of the NPL64B and NPL52B
Click to Enlarge

Back Panel (See the Back Panels Tab for Additional Information)
  • User-Adjustable Pulse Width (See Table Below)
  • Generate Pulses with or without a User-Supplied Trigger
  • Internally Triggered Pulse Rates of 1, 5, and 10 MHz
  • Trigger Signal Input/Output via SMA Connector on Back Panel
  • 10 MHz Max Repetition Rate

These nanosecond pulsed laser systems produce adjustable-duration nanosecond pulses in response to a user-supplied trigger input sent to the Trigger In port on the back panel of the laser head. Pulses may be triggered at rates up to 10 MHz. These lasers also incorporate an internal trigger, enabling repetition frequencies of 1, 5 or 10 MHz. The aspheric lens integrated into the laser head is factory set to collimate the optical output.

Pulse widths are adjustable from 5 to 39 ns over 16 discrete settings with approximately equal spacing. The specific pulse width range depends on the Item # as specified in the table below; please see the Specs tab for more information. Plots of typical pulses are also located in the table below. The controls for adjusting the pulse width and repetition rate are located on the back panel, which is shown in the image to the right. The included 2 mm flathead screwdriver can be used to operate these controls.

The Rep Rate selector on the back panel enables the user to either choose among three options for internally triggering the pulses, or to configure the laser to accept a user-supplied external signal to trigger pulse generation. The internal pulse trigger is generated by oscillators in the laser head, and positions A, B, and C on the Rep Rate selector correspond to internally triggered repetition frequencies of 1, 5, and 10 MHz, respectively. When pulses are internally triggered, the Trigger IN/OUT port provides an output signal that is synchronized with the pulse generation. Alternatively, when the Rep Rate selector is set to position D, pulses are generated in response to an external trigger signal applied to the Trigger IN/OUT port. With this option, pulses may be triggered at rates up to 10 MHz. Please see the Back Panels tab and manual for more information about the features on the back panel.

These laser systems include the laser head, a +15 V power supply, a 2 mm flathead screwdriver, and two ECM225 clamps for post mounting the laser head. Please see the Shipping List tab for a complete list of included components.

Key Specificationsa
Item # Center
Wavelength (Typ.)
Output
Spectrum (Typ.)
Pulse
Width
Typical
Pulses
Pulse Energy
(Typ. Max)b
Peak Power
(Typ. Max)c,d
Average Power
(Max)b,d
External Trigger
Frequency (Max)e
Internal Trigger
NPL41B 405 ± 10 nm 6 to 38 ns 1.5 nJ 38 mW 15 mW 10 MHz Yes
(1, 5, and 10 MHz)
NPL45B 450 ± 10 nm 5 to 39 ns 3 nJ 75 mW 30 mW
NPL49B 488 ± 10 nm 6 to 39 ns 2 nJ 50 mW 20 mW
NPL52B 520 ± 10 nm 5 to 39 ns 1.2 nJ 30 mW 12 mW
NPL64B 640 ± 10 nm 5 to 39 ns 2 nJ 50 mW 20 mW
  • Refer to the Specs tab for complete specifications.
  • This specification is given for operation at 10 MHz and with the greatest pulse width achievable by the laser.
  • These specifications are typical maxima and are given for pulses that reach maximum output power.
  • Some short duration pulses do not reach maximum output power, and therefore have reduced average output powers.
  • The maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
NPL41B Support Documentation
NPL41BNanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 405 nm, 6 - 38 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,184.50
Today
NPL45B Support Documentation
NPL45BNanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 450 nm, 5 - 39 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,184.50
Lead Time
NPL49B Support Documentation
NPL49BNanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 488 nm, 6 - 39 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,900.00
5-8 Days
NPL52B Support Documentation
NPL52BNanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 520 nm, 5 - 39 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,287.50
5-8 Days
NPL64B Support Documentation
NPL64BNanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 640 nm, 5 - 39 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,184.50
5-8 Days

Pulsed Lasers with Adjustable Pulse Width: 6 - 129 ns, Pulse Energy: ≥126 nJ

Back Panel of the NPL41C
Click to Enlarge

Back Panel (See the Back Panels Tab for Additional Information)
  • User-Adjustable Pulse Width (See Table Below)
  • Generate Pulses with a User-Supplied Trigger
  • Trigger Signal Input via SMA Connector on Back Panel
  • 50 kHz Max Repetition Rate

These nanosecond pulsed laser systems output adjustable-duration nanosecond pulses in response to a user-supplied trigger input sent to the Trigger In port on the back panel of the laser head. They provide higher pulse energy than lasers with Item #s ending in A or B. Pulses may be triggered at rates up to 50 kHz. Pulse widths are adjustable from 6 to 129 ns over 16 discrete settings with approximately equal spacing. The specific pulse width range depends on the Item # as specified in the table below; please see the Specs tab for more information. Plots of typical pulses are also located in the table below. The control for adjusting the pulse width is located on the back panel, which is shown in the image to the right. The included 2 mm flathead screwdriver can be used to change the pulse width setting.

Please see the Back Panels tab and manual for more information about the features on the back panel.

The aspheric lens integrated into the laser head is factory set to collimate the optical output. These laser systems include the laser head, a +15 V power supply, a 2 mm flathead screwdriver, and two ECM225 clamps for post mounting the laser head. Please see the Shipping List tab for a complete list of included components.

Key Specificationsa
Item # Center
Wavelength (Typ.)
Output
Spectrum (Typ.)
Pulse
Width
Typical
Pulses
Pulse Energy
(Typ. Max)b
Peak Power
(Typ. Max)c,d
Average Power
(Max)b,d
External Trigger
Frequency (Max)e
Internal Trigger
NPL41C 405 ± 10 nm 6 to 129 ns 128 nJ 1000 mW 6.4 mW 50 kHz No
NPL45C 450 ± 10 nm 204 nJ 1600 mW 10.2 mW
NPL52C 520 ± 10 nm 186 nJ 1500 mW 9.3 mW
NPL64C 640 ± 10 nm 126 nJ 1000 mW 6.3 mW
  • Refer to the Specs tab for complete specifications.
  • This specification is given for operation at 50 kHz and with the greatest pulse width achievable by the laser.
  • These specifications are typical maxima and are given for pulses that reach maximum output power.
  • Some short duration pulses do not reach maximum output power, and therefore have reduced average output powers.
  • The maximum supported edge transition time is 1 ms.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
NPL41C Support Documentation
NPL41CCustomer Inspired! Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 405 nm, 6 - 129 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$3,200.00
Today
NPL45C Support Documentation
NPL45CCustomer Inspired! Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 450 nm, 6 - 129 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,800.00
Today
NPL52C Support Documentation
NPL52CCustomer Inspired! Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 520 nm, 6 - 129 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$2,400.00
Today
NPL64C Support Documentation
NPL64CCustomer Inspired! Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Diode System, 640 nm, 6 - 129 ns Adjustable Pulse Width
$1,900.00
5-8 Days

Aluminum Side Clamps

  • Both Clamps Compatible with all NPL Series Laser Housings
  • ECM225 Attaches to Bottom or Top of Laser Housing
  • ECM175 Attaches to Sides of Laser Housing

Each NPL series Pulsed Laser Diode system includes two ECM225 anodized aluminum clamps, which snap onto the bottom of the laser housing and are secured by tightening the flexure lock using the 2 mm (5/64") hex locking screw. Additional ECM225 clamps, as well as ECM175 clamps that attach to the side of the laser housing, are available separately. The ECM225 and ECM175 are two of Thorlabs' family of aluminum side clamps that are designed to securely mount Thorlabs' rectangular electronics housings.

The ECM225 has three #8 (M4) counterbored through holes, and the ECM175 has one. The counterbored through holes allow the clamps to be mounted on a Ø1/2" post or any surface with an 8-32 (M4) tap. The clamp must be mounted via the counterbored through hole before the electronics housing is attached, as the counterbore will not be accessible once the housing is secured in the clamp.

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
ECM175 Support Documentation
ECM175Aluminum Clamp for Electronics Housing, 1.75"
$18.28
Today
ECM225 Support Documentation
ECM225Aluminum Clamp for Electronics Housing, 2.25"
$18.81
Today

Replacement 15 VDC Regulated Power Supply

DS15 Region-Specific Power Supply Adapters
Click for Details

Region-Specific Adapters for DS15
Female Mini-XLR Connector
  • 15 VDC Regulated Power Supply
  • Mini-XLR Connector
  • Compatible with Our Nanosecond Pulsed Laser Systems

The DS15 is a 15 V regulated power supply with a 1.53 m (60.24") long cable and a Mini-XLR connector. It is suitable for any Mini-XLR-compatible device that requires a 15 VDC output, and is directly compatible with our nanosecond pulsed laser systems, sold above. A region-specific adapter plug is shipped with the DS15 power supply based on your location.

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
DS15 Support Documentation
DS1515 VDC, 1.2 A Regulated Power Supply with Mini-XLR Connector, 100/240 VAC
$46.35
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