The Center for Applied Optics at UAH is proud to be offering student participation in advanced laser design using the thin disk laser student lab. Studies in this lab support optical engineering students, mechanical engineering students, and electrical engineering students. Studies range from design and fabrication to modeling and testing of all aspects of the thin disk laser. As an example, the homogenizer section is outfitted with many degrees of freedom for each component allowing students to validate the existing models for the laser by making small adjustments to these in both the model and the hardware, students can then zero in on the best laser performance; highlighting the benefit of using anchored models along with the hardware.


The CAO Thin Disk Laser student laboratory.


UAH’s Center for Applied Optics developed a working Thin Disk Laser research laboratory for NASA during the 2000 to 2005 time period. We received direct support for our laboratory from the inventor Dr. Adolf Giesen.

Dr. Adolf Giesen

Dr. Adolf Giesen

In addition Dr. Giesen provided UAH with a license agreement to build a thin disk laser with up to one kilowatt of output power. With this license, he provided three mounted disks (2003 design) and provided drawings for the coolant finger. The CAO then designed our first working model of the thin disk laser; and of course we received a bit of training from Dr. Giesen also. Coupling that with an eight year NASA contract history, modeling and establishing fabrication tolerances inherent in this architecture UAH designed fabricated many parts and built a working thin disk laser for NASA. This entire laboratory was then kindly donated to the CAO for education purposes.

Research in our CAO lab includes scalability in the range from 10 Watts to 1000 Watts continuous output, where each component of the disk laser system is evaluated to determine the dominant scalability metrics. We then identify practical mechanical limits for a scaled laser system; we evaluate total power and thermal requirements, we research disk gain material mounting and fabrication techniques including wide-aperture low-stress optical coating methods. Within this research, we plan to develop a rugged but modular packaging concept suitable for manufacture or industrial transfer.

Participating students study the direct synergy existing between the thin disk architecture and laser scalability. In this research we offer students a deeper, broader understanding of the fundamentals of scalability, we continue development of the existing anchored models with direct application to scaled pump cavity sizes. Students participate in fabrication, laboratory implementation, resulting in a fully functional thin disk laser all built by the student body.

Diode Array BPP DiodeArray2 Diode Array BPP

We model the diode array BPP.


Homogenizer Model Homogenizer Model

We model the homogenizer.


High Power Diode Pumping Model

We model higher power diode pumping.


Comparing the models to the hardware. Comparing the models to the hardware.

We compare models to the hardware.


Testing the hardware.

We test in the lab.


Design of an Angled Assembly Created Component Fabricating Component Testing Component

We design, fabricate, assemble and test each component..


Student Involvement Student Involvement

We involve our students in all aspects.


Fully assembled and work laser.

We have a working laser.