Old 02-25-2016, 10:36 PM #1
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Default Spectra Physics Scientific Cyan 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Ok, I've got a huge number of lasers piling up these days, some i've had for a long time...and I've been too lazy to review them...so I'm going to try to get off my lazy ass and finally do some!

For your consideration this time....a 20mW 488nm Cyan laser. These were primarily designed for bio-florescence and ultra high quality scanning, confocal microscopy, cytometry, DNA sequencing, etc. replacing small argon ion lasers. They were originally developed by a company named Picarro, but were bought out quickly by SP who is now owned by Newport. (I've only ever seen one with Picarro labeling) They are very efficient - the gain chip operating at only 0.67A (vs the 1.6A of the coherent Sapphire) and are only a fraction of the size and complexity of a modern OPSL such as the coherent sapphire. The cavity is much simpler, needing only one general TEC to cool the entire unit, and even that is almost unnecessary. the head even off of the heatsink generates so very little heat it almost doesn't matter unless you're running it for days on end. The particular laser that I have here is pretty new too, with only around 1500 hours on it between me and the previous owner since its manufacture Dec 2009. The beam is almost a perfect circle with little to no correction due to its construction type, using a VECSL 976nm diode that is directly doubled intracavity to create the desired 488nm light. this results in a very low power and very simple laser cavity, saving on both cost and making the laser more efficient.

While OPSL is heralded as a more versatile and promising technology, this was its main competitor for a while. While OPSLs are also very efficient and tend to have a somewhat negligibly better beam, they're far more expensive and complex, but they've stuck around due to the ease of making making more powerful lasers, as well as other wavelengths, thus being more scale-able for industry purposes. They can hardly hold a candle to this thing's reliability though. Compared to Argons, which are usually re-tubed at 5K hours...and OPSLs rated at the standard 10K hours for warranty, in over a million hours of testing, over 94% of these lasted to 20K hours...double its rating! Furthermore, over 82% of the lasers survived in excess of 35K hours, and over 62% lasted to 40K hours! It's also lighter than the sapphire by a bit, due to the much smaller cavity and is a bit more ergonomic looking to boot. My laser is rated for 20mW minimum and locks at a very rock-steady 22mW nominal. The beam is of an incredible quality, easily suitable for holograms, imaging, and other sensitive applications.

Most were of course made as an OEM laser, but mine is one of the rare few that was made as a desktop model. Rather than the OEM version, it has a shutter. It has an incredibly tight beam starting at ~0.8mm and diverging at perhaps 1mRad at most. It is vertically polarized like most lab lasers, and noise is pretty much nonexistent in this, measuring less than 0.2% 20Hz-2MHz. Mine also came with the factory heatsink, but with no fan on the back, probably due to it not needing it. The fan has a connector on the back of the laser head, requiring no additional 12V power sources, and the back of the head also has an indicator that comes on; displaying amber when power is applied, and turning green whenever it is running. It uses a shielded DB-25 cable to connect to the supply, which is basically just a 12V power supply and a somewhat modified driver mounted in a box together. Its got a lot of airspace and could be smaller frankly, but it's very quiet and works well. the switch lights up when it is on, turning on a tiny fan inside. After turning the key, the yellow caution LED lights and the delay starts, and after a few seconds the LED on the head turns from amber to green as it starts to emit. It takes a couple minutes to warm up and calibrate, perhaps 2-3min or so, but anything less than 7 minutes is normal as under extreme temperature conditions make it take longer according to the manual. Once it locks the green ready LED on the supply comes on. It also has an RS-232 port and an analog port for remote operation, and there is a red alarm/fault LED as well. The shutter is nice and smooth, swinging up to open in a nice arc. The manual displays a knob of sorts, but my model is a bit different, having a small arm that swings up instead. Its a fantastic laser, and I hope it makes up for my absence. Enjoy! More to come.

Controller front and back:



Laser Head:


Shining through a soda.


Spectrograph:


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Last edited by ultimatekaiser; 12-02-2016 at 06:13 PM. Reason: fixed a few small errors
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Old 02-25-2016, 10:54 PM #2
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Awesome! Don't have any pictures of the cavity do you?
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Old 02-25-2016, 10:58 PM #3
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by diachi View Post
Awesome! Don't have any pictures of the cavity do you?
No. The module actually only takes up a portion of the right side of the head, and is sealed and isolated from the base except by TEC and ball joints. I'm not opening it, as that would be bad for the laser optics. There's not likely much to see anyhow, assuming I could get it open.

Last edited by ultimatekaiser; 11-09-2016 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 02-25-2016, 11:34 PM #4
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Thanks for the review uk, that is a beautiful unit outputing one of the sweetest wavelengths ever!
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Old 02-25-2016, 11:41 PM #5
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Gorgeous wavelength and a Very nice beam, do they make one that's pocket size?
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Old 02-26-2016, 02:21 PM #6
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Quote:
Originally Posted by ultimatekaiser View Post
No. The module actually only takes up a portion of the right side of the head, and is sealed and isolated from the base except by TEC. I'm not opening it, as that would be bad for the laser optics. There's not likely much to see anyhow.

Time to build a makeshift clean room...

All good, it's a nice unit. I'm envious!
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:37 AM #7
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

YAWN Saw that months ago Benefits of knowing you on Skype
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Old 02-27-2016, 02:56 PM #8
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Hmmm, won't fit in a leadlight +REP
I don't know where I would put a lot of units like that. Did I miss how much that cost?
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:57 PM #9
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Matt, I never get tired of reviewing your toys. It is the same color as my argon, and in a DPSSL. You always manage to get the most unusual lasers and related materials. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:20 PM #10
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Not a problem. It's a DECSL ( doubled external-cavity semiconductor laser) it uses a directly doubled 976nm VECSEL (vertical extended cavity surface-emitting laser) laser diode as a gain chip, very much like the ones that are used in the telecom industry and doubles the 976 intra-cavity, unlike the Melles Griot heads which use a fiber coupled butterfly diode ran through a doubling crystal externally. The result is a much simpler and efficient structure and thus less heat and power consumption. The full beam isn't absolutely perfectly round, but the core still is. The OPSLs are a bit more versatile and yield a slightly better beam shape, where as these have ultra-low noise and are somewhat lighter, produce less heat, and more reliable. So they're better for harsh environments and places you want to install and forget. OPSL is taking over for most things now due to it being more scalable and versatile. But these are still a very cool concept in my opinion.

Last edited by ultimatekaiser; 02-29-2016 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:41 PM #11
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

I get that, Matt. But, are they no longer diode pumped solid state lasers? Or is that an acronym exclusively used for the IR diode pumped into two crystal to get the visible beam?
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:50 PM #12
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

I was just giving some more information, as I accidentally omitted it for my review. I have no idea, I still consider it a DPSS, and technically it is. But it's kind of a special case of it, so I think they just refer to it as a DECSL. In a way OPSL is DPSS too, you're just pumping a semiconductor wafer instead of a doped crystal... But they don't go around calling OPSLs DPSS lasers, so...no idea. But ultimately they meet the description. They are diode pumped solid-state afterall...

As far as I've seen most advertisements and articles just refer to lasers now as "all solid-state" and don't generally specify.

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Old 02-27-2016, 09:23 PM #13
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Advertisers use whatever will sell their products. I've seen that time after time. I was just trying to be PC about the use of acronyms.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:29 PM #14
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Although they do mention it to help sell their products, it's also somewhat to keep it a secret from competitors. It's a pretty competitive industry nowadays. 488nm lasers alone are a tens of millions dollar industry. These are outrageously expensive new. At least some $7k-10k+ even now, let alone when they were new tech a few years ago.

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Old 02-27-2016, 11:22 PM #15
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

Just out of curiosity, are you willing to say what you paid for this little beauty?
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:41 PM #16
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Default Re: Spectra Physics Scientific 488nm SLM DECSL laser

I don't remember exactly, but it wasn't terrible. Most OEM go for perhaps a grand or two. Expensive, but not intolerable. I think originally they wanted a few grand since it's a complete desktop turn-key unit, not just a head and bare driver, but I think I walked away with it for 800-900-ish. Though if I re-sold it ever, it'd likely go for a lot more. The diode alone is a few grand IIRC.

Last edited by ultimatekaiser; 02-27-2016 at 11:43 PM.
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