Laser Technology and Optical Industry

Laser technology is one of the markets with extraordinarily strong growth. Several factors are driving this trend: on the one hand, a need for precise and flexible production processes down to micrometer and nanometer precision and, on the other, market-specific requirements for higher individualization of products. Efficient manufacturing processes, powerful beam sources and process-adapted optical systems are required in various sectors, from automotive engineering through medical and energy technology to electronics. Fraunhofer ILT ranks among the top addresses for the development of innovative laser-beam sources and high-quality optical components and systems. One of its core competencies is lasers with spatially, temporally and spectrally tailor-made radiation and output powers from microwatts to gigawatts. It provides suitable solutions for laser manufacturers, system integrators or laser users.

Fraunhofer ILT covers the entire spectrum of laser beam sources from diode lasers, to fiber lasers all the way to solid-state lasers. In particular, the institute develops ultrashort pulse lasers with outputs up into the kilowatt range – an expertise in such high demand that it will result in novel manufacturing solutions in the future.

The core element of a powerful laser application is often process-adapted beam-guidance and beam-shaping elements. Here too, Fraunhofer ILT develops application-adapted processing optics with a flexibly tunable beam shape, multi-beam systems for parallel processing and fast scanner systems for additive manufacturing and surface structuring.

For new applications – such as free-space data transmission, terrestrial and satellite-based monitoring of climate gases and quantum technology – Fraunhofer ILT offers tailor-made solutions such as narrow-band laser sources, single-photon sources or XUV lasers for semiconductor technology and basic research.


Diode lasers for customized optical systems#

Cutting stainless steel with a direct diode laser.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Cutting stainless steel with a direct diode laser.

Fiber-coupled diode lasers are among the least expensive and most efficient beam sources for cw laser applications and are widely used, for example, to harden, solder and weld metals. Fraunhofer ILT develops novel, cost-efficient diode laser beam sources to open up applications that place high demands on radiance. Direct diode lasers with kW optical output power are a cost-effective alternative to fiber lasers in cutting applications. The stabilized emission spectrum and high beam quality of the diode laser can also be used to advantage in demanding pumping applications such as multi-kW fiber lasers or ultrashort pulse lasers. For the »MERLIN« climate mission, for example, Fraunhofer ILT is developing tailor-made, diode lasers suitable for use in space as pulsed pump modules. In addition to targeted beam shaping, the institute is also focusing on the development of fiber coupling and wavelength stabilization of diode lasers.

USP beam sources for high-precision material processing#

Ablation process with 16 partial beams.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Ablation process with 16 partial beams.

Since their light-matter interaction times are so short, ultrashort pulse lasers (USP lasers) can process materials with high precision while introducing negligible heat input into the workpiece. At the same time, the high intensity of the radiation allows almost material-independent ablation. Industrial ultra-short pulse lasers are currently mainly limited to the wavelength range around 1 μm and below. With the help of optical parametric frequency conversion, Fraunhofer ILT is extending the addressable wavelength into the IRB range (1.5 to 3.0 μm). The institute is developing USP beam sources that can process materials with application-specific optimized wavelengths.

Moreover, Fraunhofer ILT is targeting beam forming for lasers with powers greater than 5 kW and pulse lengths of 100 to 1000 femtoseconds – a research goal in the new Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Advanced Photon Sources CAPS, in which several Fraunhofer Institutes are collaborating on the development of future laser sources. Crucial here is the combination of laser material processing, processes for optical programming of materials, miniaturized X-ray laser and XUV imaging.



Projects with participation of the Fraunhofer ILT#

Strategic Fraunhofer Projects

A selection of strategic projects involving the Fraunhofer ILT can be found on our cluster website.

Current Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Completed Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of completed collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Annual Report

In our current annual report you will find a selection of further project results.


Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Optics”


Telephone +49 241 8906-206
-> Send E-Mail


Prof. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”


Telephone +49 241 8906-148
-> Send E-Mail

Dr. Jochen Stollenwerk

“Additive Manufacturing
and Functional Layers”


Telephone +49 241 8906-398
-> Send E-Mail

Dr. Achim Lenenbach

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”


Telephone +49 241 8906-124
-> Send E-Mail