Introduction to Laser Energy Sensors

Pyroelectric sensors are for measuring repetitive pulse energies and average powers at pulse rates up to 25000 pulses per second and pulse widths up to 20 ms. Note that single shot energy with pulse rates less than one pulse every 5 s or so can be measured with thermal sensors as described introduction to laser power sensors.

Pyroelectric type sensors are useful for measuring the energy of repetitively pulsed lasers at up to 25,000 Hz and are sensitive to low energies. They are less durable than thermal types and therefore should not be used whenever it is not necessary to measure the energy of each pulse and average power measurement is sufficient. Pyroelectric sensors use a pyroelectric crystal that generates an electric charge proportional to the heat absorbed. Since the two surfaces of the crystal are metalized, the total charge generated is collected and therefore the response is not dependent on beam size or position. This charge then charges a capacitor in parallel with the crystal and the voltage difference thus generated is proportional to the pulse energy. After the energy is read by the electronic circuit, the charge on the crystal is discharged to be ready for the next pulse. The response time of the pyroelectric sensor depends on the time it takes for the heat to enter the crystal and heat it up. For metallic type pyro detectors, this time is tens of µs and thus the metallic type can run at a high repetition rate. For the BF and BB type, the response time is hundreds of µs with a correspondingly lower repetition rate.

Ophir pyroelectric detectors have unique and proprietary circuitry that allow them to measure long pulses as well as short pulses and work at a high duty cycle, i.e. where the pulse width is as much as 30% of the total cycle time. Ophir has now come out with the new compact C line of pyroelectric sensors that will replace previous models. The electronics and mechanics has been completely upgraded and the new sensors are superior in every way: more compact, wider dynamic range, have higher repetition rates and will measure longer pulses. Through constant development, Ophir again brings you the best performance in the market.

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