Laser Diode Specification: The Trade- Offs

When specifying the optimum laser diode for your application, there will be some inevitable trade-offs to consider between performance, cost and lifetime. Here is our guide to ensuring you make the best possible choice.

Performance versus Lifetime

Performance versus lifetime is an important consideration when selecting a laser diode. For example, if a 10 mW diode is being driven at its limit to achieve the necessary output, it will last a certain amount of time – typically 5-10,000 hours of continuous use. If a 10 mW rated diode is only driven at 5 mW, however, it will last far longer.

If your application needs 20,000 hours of use from a laser diode, explain to the supplier where that figure comes from and what the impact would be of having a laser diode that only lives for 10,000 hours; or one that provides 50,000 hours. Your supplier should be able to provide you with the best option to suit your specific needs.

Cost versus Lifetime

If lifetime is critical to your application, it may be worth paying a little more for a higher rated laser diode and then not driving it too hard. For applications where failure of the laser diode is going to be a high-cost event in terms of repair and maintenance, this is an especially important factor to consider. The same applies if downtime of equipment will lead to issues. If cost is the crucial point, however, it is important to address whether it would be a straightforward process to replace the laser. If so, it may be more sensible to choose a lower rated, less expensive laser diode.

Cost versus Reliability

Care is needed here because if the laser diode is overspecified, it will end up costing more than it should. If it is underspecified, it will not meet your needs in terms of reliability or performance, causing you to miss out on a product that could be ideal for your application when specified correctly. Therefore, an important point to consider is the importance of cost versus the reliability of the application.

Whilst these decisions cannot be made for you, your supplier should be able to offer you full guidance on what you can expect and at what cost.

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