Economic benefit from improved processes and sales of new products in diamond photonics market
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Strathclyde
Unit of AssessmentElectrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Physical Sciences: Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics, Optical Physics, Other Physical Sciences
Summary of the impact
Commercialisation of high optical quality diamond by Element Six
Ltd (2010 on) and of diamond- enabled lasers by M
Squared Lasers Ltd (2012 on) has been made possible by
underpinning research on laser engineering and optical characterisation at
the University of Strathclyde. [text removed for publication] Markets for
this material include thermal management of lasers to enable higher powers
and high-performance laser output windows. [text removed for publication]
Market requirements for developments in solid-state lasers focus on
improved functionality - for example, by increasing wavelength coverage,
while increasing the output power. This requires a step change in thermal
engineering to manage greater heat deposition in the laser material when
operated at higher powers. To achieve this, Strathclyde has pioneered the
use of high optical quality synthetic diamond, which has a thermal
conductivity almost 100 times that of current optical materials. This
required improvements in the optical quality of synthetic diamond and the
development of laser architectures that enable diamond to efficiently
extract heat from a conventional laser material or to be used as a laser
material in its own right.
Identifying and Proving Key Opportunities (2003-present): The
Strathclyde team was the first to demonstrate (2004 ) and then fully
analyse (2005 ) the use of diamond as a heat spreader within the
cavity of a semiconductor disk laser. This reduced the temperature rise
within the laser material and enabled the team to demonstrate watt-level
output powers at 0.67µm (2005), 1.05µm (2006), 1.32µm (2004), 2.0µm
(2009) and 2.35µm (2007). Prior to this, semiconductor disk lasers with
output powers in excess of a few hundred milliwatts had only been
demonstrated between 0.9 and 1.103bcm. This work was undertaken with a
range of partners, both industrial (e.g. Samsung, Osram,
FujiFilm) and academic (e.g. Fraunhofer IAF, Tampere,
Sheffield, whose expertise was in III-V semiconductor growth, not
diamond and its use), helping seed the growth of a world-wide
semiconductor disk laser community. The Strathclyde team demonstrated
that these lasers are ideal for nonlinear frequency conversion to
address an even wider range of wavelengths and hence applications,
demonstrating an ultra-violet system (2006)  and their first use to
pump optical parametric oscillators (2009) and Raman lasers (2011). The
team's Raman lasers were the first demonstrations of diamond as a laser
material in its own right in a continuously operating laser - a route by
which diamond's exceptional thermal properties can be more fully
exploited to improve the output power of lasers in the future .
Developing and Proving Enabling Material (2006-present): The
Strathclyde team identified deficiencies that severely limited the
market potential of existing diamond: birefringence (2006) and loss
(2011). They then worked closely with the manufacturer (Element
Six Ltd) on an iterative process of diagnostic assessment
(Strathclyde), growth development (Element Six Ltd) and demonstration of
critical function (Strathclyde) in disk (2008)  and Raman lasers
(2011) . This process resulted in >100-fold reductions in the
levels of loss and birefringence achievable simultaneously, which in
turn enabled the demonstrations of critical function.
Demonstrating Vital Micro-fabrication Capability (2003-present):
Having identified the potential of diamond for integrated photonics and
electronics, the team developed (2006) a precise argon-chlorine
inductively coupled plasma etch giving unprecedentedly low surface
roughness (<0.2nm) , which was then patented (WO/2008/090511).
This was used to fabricate high-quality micro-lenses (2006) ,
transistors (2008), and waveguides (2011).
Key Researchers at University of Strathclyde: At the time of the
research (2003-2013), the team was led by Professor Martin Dawson (Chair)
with key contributions from Drs David Burns (2003-2012), Erdan Gu,
Jennifer Hastie, Stephane Calvez (2003-2012), Alan Kemp, and John- Mark
Hopkins (2003-2012). All were University of Strathclyde employees at
Professorial or Research Fellow level.
References to the research
The three references that best exemplify the quality of this work are
, , and .
 J. M. Hopkins, S. A. Smith, C. W. Jeon, H. D. Sun, D.
Burns, S. Calvez, M.D. Dawson, T. Jouhti, and M.
Pessa, "0.6 W CW GaInNAs vertical external-cavity surface emitting laser
operating at 1.32 µm," Electronics Letters, vol. 40, pp. 30-31,
2004. DOI: 10.1049/el:20040049
The first use of an intracavity diamond heatspreader in a semiconductor
 A. J. Kemp, G. J. Valentine, J. M. Hopkins, J. E.
Hastie, S. A. Smith, S. Calvez, M. D. Dawson, and D.
Burns, "Thermal management in vertical-external-cavity
surface-emitting lasers: Finite-element analysis of a heatspreader
approach," IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics, vol. 41, pp.
148-155, 2005. DOI: 10.1109/JQE.2004.839706
Modelling showing how intracavity diamond heatspreaders can enable
watt-level operation of semiconductor disk lasers over a much wider
range of wavelengths.
 C. L. Lee, H. W. Choi, E. Gu, M. D. Dawson, and H.
Murphy, "Fabrication and characterization of diamond micro-optics," Diamond
and Related Materials, vol. 15, pp. 725-728, 2006. DOI:
A precision inductively coupled plasma-etching technique for diamond.
Patent granted (WO/2008/090511).
 J. E. Hastie, L. G. Morton, A. J. Kemp, M. D.
Dawson, A. B. Krysa, and J. S. Roberts, "Tunable ultraviolet output
from an intracavity frequency-doubled red vertical-external-cavity
surface- emitting laser," Applied Physics Letters, vol. 89,
061114, 2006. DOI: 10.1063/1.2236108
Watt-level output power from a red semiconductor disk laser cooled
using a diamond heatspreader and the first frequency doubling of such a
laser into the UV.
 P. Millar, R. B. Birch, A. J. Kemp, and D. Burns,
"Synthetic Diamond for Intracavity Thermal Management in Compact
Solid-State Lasers," IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics vol. 44,
pp. 709-717, 2008. DOI: 10.1109/JQE.2008.923424. Included in REF2.
First demonstration of the intracavity use of low-birefringence
synthetic diamond in lasers. The result of collaboration with the
leading manufacturer (Element Six Ltd).
 W. Lubeigt, V. G. Savitski, G. M. Bonner, S. L. Geoghegan, I. Friel,
J. E. Hastie, M.D. Dawson, D. Burns, and A. J.
Kemp, "1.6W continuous-wave Raman laser using low-loss synthetic
diamond," Optics Express, vol. 19, pp. 6938-6944, 2011.
10.1364/OE.19.006938. Included in REF2.
The first continuous-wave diamond Raman laser with an output power
above the watt level (joint paper with Element Six:
Geoghegan and Friel). An eight-fold improvement in power over the state
of the art was achieved by using low loss and low birefringence diamond.
Other evidence for quality of research
Grants: The work was funded by 8 EPSRC grants (including 4 platform
grants), two EU programmes (`NATAL' and `VERTIGO') and two DTI-LINK
programmes (`ALFONSO' and `MIDDI'), an ERC grant (`DiaL'), 3 industrially
funded projects (Element 6; Samsung; Fujifilm),
and two research fellowships (Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal
Society of Edinburgh). Total value of grants approximately £6M.
[text removed for publication]
Details of the impact
Process from research to impact: The Strathclyde team maximised
the economic impact resulting from its research through a series of
- Instigating and then collaborating on the development and
commercialisation of new diamond product lines, by iterative
diagnostic assessment and proving the material in key applications.
- Pioneering a diamond-enabled laser technology that was subsequently
- Developing a diamond etch process [text removed for publication].
- Identifying and developing the novel laser architectures needed to
enable new markets for diamond in photonics, for example as
heatspreaders in semiconductor disk lasers.
This impact was developed in partnership with Element Six Ltd,
drawing on their world-leading diamond growth capability. The Strathclyde
team stimulated interest in, and then contributed to the development of
new diamond product lines by proactively taking to Element Six the
requirement for lower birefringence and absorption along with an
appreciation of the markets such material would address. Strathclyde and
Element Six then worked together on an iterative process of diagnostic
assessment and growth development. The Strathclyde team proved the
efficacy of the resulting new material in disk (2008) and Raman lasers
(2011), effectively completing a major design cycle and directly enabling
new product lines for the company. (Sources A2 and D1)
The team was instrumental in building four substantial academic/industrial
collaborative projects: `NATAL' and `VERTIGO' (EU-funded); `ALFONSO' and
`MIDDI' (DTI-funded). These involved working with companies such as Osram,
Toptica, LISA-LASER, Cablefree,
and Element Six to transfer to industry the technology
that was subsequently commercialised.
In parallel, the Strathclyde team identified the barriers to the
commercial uptake of diamond in photonics and the need for laser designs
that fully exploited the exceptional properties of diamond, putting in
place research programmes to overcome these hurdles. The Strathclyde team
postulated and then proved the efficacy of high optical quality diamond in
advanced laser applications, and scoped the markets for diamond-enabled
laser technologies. This included consultancy to scope the technological
challenges and market potential for diamond Raman lasers, influencing
Element Six's investment in this area. The Strathclyde team was also the
academic partner on the DTI-funded `MIDDI' project (with Element Six)
that developed a precise etching technique [Reference 3]. [text removed
Reach and Significance of the Impact:
a Sales Growth: [text removed for publication] head of the optical
business unit at Element Six, notes that "we have had a number of
experiences in recent years of existing and potential new customers
approaching us quoting results from Strathclyde". This growth is
driven by the world leading optical quality of Element Six's single
crystal material, where the material and markets (for example
semiconductor disk lasers) were developed with support from the
Strathclyde team (Source D1).
b Improved Products — Diamond: Collaborative research with
Strathclyde has enabled Element Six to introduce new CVD
diamond product lines (2010-2012) to address markets in 1) Raman crystals
for frequency shifting of established laser systems, 2) intracavity
cooling elements for solid state disk lasers to enable higher power
systems, and 3) intracavity coolers for semiconductor disk lasers,
improving longevity and efficiency. [text removed for publication]
Element Six's website notes the importance to these markets of reductions
in loss and birefringence (areas worked on with Strathclyde — References
5, 6), since this material is "particularly suited for the most
demanding optical applications", and that key markets include areas
pioneered by Strathclyde: "novel laser technologies, including
semiconductor and doped dielectric disk lasers" [References 1,2,4,6]
and "Raman laser applications" [Ref 6]. Photonics is the fastest
growing sector of the CVD diamond business according to Adrian Wilson,
Head of Technologies at Element Six (quoted in Electro-optics magazine,
July 2012). (Sources: D1, A2 and C).
c Improved Products - Lasers: M Squared Lasers Ltd entered
the marketplace for diamond- enabled lasers in 2012 with the purchase of Solus
Technologies Ltd. These lasers utilise the intracavity diamond
heat spreader technology pioneered at Strathclyde [References 1,2,4,5] for
markets including high volume printing, semiconductor metrology and
scientific instrumentation. [text removed for publication] Business
Development Manager at M Squared Lasers Ltd, notes that "the
pioneering research at Strathclyde on diamond-enabled lasers has been
influential in opening up a valuable new market for M Squared Lasers
Ltd" (Source D2).
d Improved Processes: [text removed for publication]
e Securing company viability: [text removed for publication]
Sources to corroborate the impact
A. Press releases from Element Six relating to collaboration with
Strathclyde and supporting the importance of the Strathclyde etch process
(A1 and A3) and laser engineering research (A2):
Press release from Diamond Microwave Devices Ltd confirming £1.3M
of equity investment in 2009
C. Article in Electro-Optics Magazine (July 2012, pp 8-9) http://www.electrooptics.com/features/
stating the importance of the photonics market to Element Six Ltd.
D. The following beneficiaries can be contacted for corroborating
- Principal Research Scientist, Element Six Ltd. will confirm
evidence on the importance and value of sales of high optical quality
- Business Development Manager, M-Squared Lasers Ltd. will
confirm evidence on the importance and value of sales of diamond-enabled
- Principal Research Scientist, Element Six Ltd. will confirm
evidence [text removed for publication].
E. Statement from the Commercial Business Manager at Element Six.