Novel high brightness direct diode laser sources and their use in powder bed additive layer manufacturing


High-brightness laser diodes are the driving force behind all modern laser systems, and the key enabling technology for the most advanced scientific and industrial laser applications. The world-record brightness in laser diode modules has recently been demonstrated by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Lasertel Inc, using micro-optics technology from Power Photonic Ltd (UK), which was originally developed by Heriot-Watt University.

Several questions remain that need to be answered with careful design and engineering: How can we use micro-optics to better utilise the highly divergent light emitted by each single diode emitter; How can we best combine many single-emitter beams to produce a combined laser beam; Can we select the optimum wavelengths to pump a particular solid-state laser or fibre laser; Can we design a high brightness laser diode module that is compact and cost-effective using additive manufacturing?

This project is part of the research collaboration between Renishaw PLC, the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes (CIM-Laser) and Heriot-Watt University. Our target is to design, develop and demonstrate novel laser systems that can be used for future manufacturing applications, including powder bed additive layer manufacturing.

Project description: Novel high brightness direct diode laser sources

Heriot-Watt University (HW) under the direction of Prof Esser, in collaboration with Renishaw and the EPSRC CIM-Laser, is developing laser sources with novel pulse, wavelength and design configurations which will lead to sustainable industrial laser systems and innovative production processes.

Laser-based powder bed additive manufacturing (AM) universally uses high beam quality fibre lasers with λ = 1µm as their source. The research at HW includes novel high-brightness diode lasers, giving greater efficiency, access to new wavelengths and opportunities for novel fibre laser pumping methods.

This iCASE PhD project will contribute to the development of the novel sources and the innovative ways they can be applied in AM, with the potential to investigate the benefits of the sources in terms of process efficiency, efficacy in working with currently inaccessible materials and machine configuration.


Heriot-Watt is based in a modern environment on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with excellent transport links to the centre of one of Europe’s most exciting cities. Heriot-Watt was recently awarded (November 2013) an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics, cementing Heriot-Watt’s reputation as a centre of excellence in photonics, and providing PhD students with an even more attractive environment for study, as well as enhanced training opportunities.

Heriot-Watt Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS)

IPAQS is a thriving environment for PhD research, having a total of 160 academics, postdocs, PhD and EngD students working full-time in the general photonics field. It’s a friendly collaborative environment where staff and students freely interact -- not least at Friday morning coffee and donut sessions.

Funding Notes

This 4-year project is funded by the EPSRC under an Industrial CASE from Renishaw PLC. The annual stipend is £14,057 with a further enhancement from Renishaw. Funding is available only to UK residents, although EU nationals may also be considered under certain circumstances. A substantial consumables and equipment budget is provided by a concurrent EPSRC CIM-Laser grant. Travel funding for conference presentations is also available.


Please send a CV including 2 references to Prof. Daniel Esser at