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Top Hat Diffractive Beam Shaper Top Hat Diffractive Beam Shaper
News    08/27/2021

Top Hat Diffractive Beam Shaper

Diffractive beam shapers are diffractive optical elements that can alter the radiance distribution of an input beam according to some specific requirements.

Diffractive beam shapers are diffractive optical elements that can alter the radiance distribution of an input beam according to some specific requirements. The most common transformation performed by these diffractive beam shapers is to go from the Gaussian radiance profile that is inherent in most laser systems to a Top Hat radiance profile.

This inherent Gaussian radiance profile can be described as a peak in radiance at the centre of the beam that slowly decays towards the edges of the beam. Thus, the beam spreads over a large area as there is no clear-cut border. In fact, an ideal Gaussian beam will expand indefinitely, as predicted by the Gaussian model. In contrast, a Top Hat diffractive beam shaper converts this type of radiance into a radiance distribution that can be in turn described by an area of uniform or constant energy and with a very abrupt fall. This beam is then said to be well bounded and the cross-sectional profile of it resembles the old-fashioned Top Hat and hence the name. Another name that is used to refer to this type of beam and that is perhaps more generic is Flat Top beams.

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A diffractive Top Hat beam shaper can then be introduced in laser systems in which the treated area needs to be uniformly illuminated and with no light creeping outside the desired area. Thus, the process of light energy delivery is greatly maximised by the inclusion of this diffractive optical element, as well as the stability of the processes area. Unlike a gaussian beam, where the processed area size depends on the pulse energy, in the top hat spot the size is always constant regardless of energy.

There are many examples of industrial applications in which a Top Hat beam can make a difference in throughput and system efficiency. In laser drilling and ablation, it is paramount that the beam on the surface to be treated is well confined as this has a direct impact on the fineness of the process as well as on the ablation process efficiency. The same goes for laser ablation but in medical processes like surgery and aesthetic treatments. The duration of the surgical process as well as the recovery time for the patient can be influenced by the quality of the laser beam on the treated area.

A Top Hat diffractive beam shaper can certainly provide considerable benefits to these applications mentioned above. The diffractive element though has to be designed with some application in mind. The performance of the Top Hat shaper is wavelength dependent, and the size of the output beam will be different in every application.

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