Laser Diode Selection: Top Tips

When choosing a laser diode for your application, you will be faced with many considerations such as the flexibility of your specification, inevitable trade-offs, and ensuring you identify a vendor who can fully meet your needs. Here are some top tips to guide you through the specification process.

Understand the flexibility in your specification

Be aware of the level of flexibility that’s acceptable for your application. For example, if you are looking for a 650nm red laser diode, consider how tight the tolerance is around that 650nm. You may find that whilst a typical laser diode manufacturer will specify 650nm ±10nm, that may be a tighter specification than you actually require, or indeed a much looser specification than suits your application requirements.

Balance cost and performance

This is an important point to consider because when a laser diode is over specified, it ends up costing you more than it needs to. Equally, problems occur if it is under specified, as issues with the laser diode and its reliability could cause you to miss out on a technology that, when specified correctly, would be ideally suited to your application.

Consider the trade-offs involved

If lifetime is a critical factor for your application, it may be worth investing in a slightly higher rated laser diode, and then simply not driving it too hard. For applications where failure of the laser diode is going to incur high repair and maintenance costs, or lead to significant equipment downtime, this is an important consideration. However, it may be more sensible to select a lower rated part if replacement of the laser is a straightforward process as can save costs long-term.

Consider your laser diode vendor carefully

There are three main criteria that should be met by the vendor you choose – the vendor must know the laser diode technology; they should take the time to understand your specific requirements; and they should have the ability to select from a wide range of laser diodes that, ideally, come from a number of different manufacturers. If they meet all of these requirements, your vendor will be far more likely to meet your needs in both performance and cost.

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