can be found in every major
research lab in the world and
have been designed for the
most demanding lasers. From
very short femtosecond
pulses that reach peak
powers in the Petawatts,
to very large beams of
thousands of Joules used
in laser fusion experiments.
We have shattered every
barrier, one laser at a time
Extreme light: No limits
Another highlight is extreme light. Through the development
of ultrafast lasers with pulse widths in the femto- and attosecond range, extreme powers are possible. Such lasers are used as
production tools already, and even more powerful versions are
being developed and built in the Extreme Light Infrastructure
(ELI) project in Europe (see Fig. 3).
Extremely energetic pulses will enable completely new technologies, such as the substitution of synchrotrons and the generation of synchrotron radiation for medical and other applications. A synchrotron costs upwards of €100 million and is a
few hundred meters in diameter.
It is conceivable to build a tabletop version of a synchrotron
using ultrafast lasers to generate ion or proton beams that are
used for the treatment of cancer and new types of cancer diagnoses. It will even be possible to use such energy in the transformation of nuclear waste to benign isotopes with very short
half-life times. The use of high-energy lasers indeed seems to
be without limits.
Enabler of digitalization
Photonics is a powerful and high-tech industry, creating leading-
edge technology for a worldwide €650-billion market in 2020.
But photonics is more than just a successful high-tech industry—
it is the enabler of digitalization in many ways. This leads to
huge opportunities and risks for our industry at the same time.
The opportunities are obvious, but with the markets we serve
and through the industries we enable, we will have to change
ourselves. So, because we disrupt, we will be disrupted. If we
do it well, photonics will be the glue and the enabler for the big
topics in the digital society. The solutions will be for us to be
the drivers of the change, not the victim.
Dr. Peter Leibinger gave this speech at the code_n
event in September 2016. Watch the complete speech at
Peter Leibinger is vice chairman of the managing board of the TRUMPF
Group, Ditzingen, Germany; www.trumpf.de.
FIGURE 3. Through the development of ultrafast lasers with pulse
widths in the femto- and attosecond range, extreme powers are possible.
(Courtesy of the TRUMPF Group)