Category : FAQ’s

What’s the Lowest Power I can Measure with My (Thermopile) Laser Power Detector?

3 Watts.

Just kidding, obviously this is going to be your favorite answer: “It depends.”
And it doesn’t just depend on the type of sensor you have or the specs of that sensor.

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Laser Beam Optics Calculators

A laser is a complicated animal.

Whether you’re a lab researcher or an industrial worker, there are several parameters you might need to calculate, such as power density or ideal focus spot size.
We’ve recently added a few calculators to our website. I hope these calculators make your work just a little bit easier.
We have five laser optics calculators (so far):

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Can You Really Measure Laser Beam Quality (M Squared) in Real Time?

M-Squared is arguably the single most important factor when determining the potential efficiency of your laser.

However, it can be a pain to measure.  Since the beam quality can be calculated only by taking several measurements along the laser beam caustic, you will typically need to move either the camera or laser source along its axis to get snapshots at different locations.

Here are two approaches you can use that actually DON’T move the camera or the laser:

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Measuring Really Small Laser Beams (< 10 microns)

Profiling small laser beams and measuring the beam size (or mode field diameter) can be a serious challenge. But it’s critical to measure, especially in such applications as fiber optic coupling efficiency, defect scanning, optical design and optical fabrication process control.

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Recalibrating Your Laser Power Meter for Long-Term Accuracy and Reliability

We’d all like to imagine that our things will stay in mint condition forever.  But we know that’s not the case.  Just like laser degrade (and therefore must be measured), the measurement equipment itself will slowly drift away from its precise calibration.

This is why we recommend yearly calibration.  If you aren’t sure when your laser power or energy is due for recalibration, you can check by connecting it to a meter.  If it needs to be recalibrated, a notification will pop up on the first screen.

Here’s how the recalibration process works.

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How to Measure Different Wavelengths with a Laser Power Meter

There’s been some confusion lately about the “laser” setting on an Ophir power meter.  Joe will ask: “What if my laser isn’t exactly one of the predetermined wavelengths?  Will it still work?”  Amanda says, “Can I set the Nova II to 633nm to check how much of that wavelength is in my broadband light source?”

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A Shortcut for Calculating Laser Power Density

This post was originally posted in 2012.  It is still very popular, so I wanted to share it here in case you get some value from it.

Here’s a laser power density calculator, if that’s what you wanted.

Read on if you’re interested in an easy way to calculate power density – even in your head.

Laser engineers and technicians are often required to calculate a laser’s power density to determine whether a beam would damage an optic or sensor or for other various applications. By definition, power density is power per unit area which is usually expressed in terms of W/cm2

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Technical Diagram of M-Squared Meausrement

Q&A: M-Squared Laser Beam Quality

What’s M-Squared, again?

If you’re not familiar with M2 already, it basically sums up your laser beam quality in a single number.

M2 takes a look at your beam caustic (the curve of the laser beam as it focuses and diverges again) and compares this to an ideal Gaussian beam caustic.

So if your beam is perfectly Gaussian, you’ll get M2 = 1.  For high quality beams, M2 might be 1.1 or 1.2, for lower qualities you can get up to 3, 4 and even double digits for some low quality high power lasers.

So, how do you know what the M2 of your laser beam really is? 

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BG resolution preview

A Quick Guide to Profiling Small Laser Beams

When using a camera to profile your laser, it’s important to keep the ratio of laser size / pixel size higher than 20. Not only does this increase the resolution of your profile image, but it also makes your measurements more accurate. (If you have fewer than 20 pixels in your beam, the measurement accuracy will be worse than 5%.)

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FAQ Photodiode Sensors for Measuring Very Low Powers

FAQ: Photodiode Sensors for Measuring Very Low Powers

In this short “Basics” video, we review in general the use of photodiode sensors for measuring very low laser powers.

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