Mariastefania De Vido a Research Engineer in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics has been awarded the Association of Industrial Lasers Users (AILU) – Young UK Laser Engineer’s Prize 2019. Her research project ‘Advanced gain materials for high energy, high average power lasers’ is undertaken in conjunction with the STFC Central Laser Facility and Heriot-Watt University. Mariastefania is developing a new type of high-energy laser with an average power output which far exceeds that of traditional lasers has applications which will benefit industries such as aviation, and efficient generation of particles and X-rays for the development of novel medical and imaging techniques.
Professor Lin Li -President of the AILU advised: “The Prize is designed to help encourage young people in the UK to develop their interests in laser applications. It is awarded to an individual early in their career, for a significant piece of work. The work must be conducted in the UK and have real or potential economic gain for the parent organisation and preferably for the wider industrial laser user community.”
Mariastefania receives this prize for her significant contribution to the design and development of the DiPOLE laser system at the Central Laser Facility, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. An upgraded DiPOLE system with 100 J of laser radiation within a 10ns pulse at a 10Hz repetition rate has been developed by the team and installed at HiLASE in the Czech Republic. Dr Martin Divoký – a senior member of HiLASE, provided the following comment: “Mariastefania De Vido participated on development of a new generation of high energy and high power laser system. She alone ray traced the whole system, optimized the beam propagation and mitigated the system against ghost foci. This helped to run the system smoothly and the laser system has become, and still is, the most powerful nanosecond laser system in the world. Later it was realized that the system suffers from thermally induced depolarization effects that decrease energy and uniformity of the beam in a single polarization. Mariastefania proposed a way to evaluate and measure depolarization and is working on its compensation.
The laser system is mostly used in laser induced damage threshold testing (LIDT) and in material hardening through laser shock peening. LIDT revealed previously un-encountered sources of laser damage with this high energy and high power laser system and is crucial for further development, cost reduction and possible mass production of such lasers. Laser shock peening has a very high economical potential, because it substantially prolongs lifetime of threated components. So far it is used only on very expensive components, such as jet turbine blades, but with predicted decrease of the cost of such lasers, it will enter many other industry fields (for example automotive) and may become similar to laser cutting and welding.”
Mariastefania said: “Being awarded this prize is a great honour. I feel truly delighted that my effort and commitment has been recognised.”
Professor Daniel Esser- Mariastefania’s academic supervisor at Heriot-Watt University, said: “It is a great pleasure to work with such an outstanding researcher as Mariastafania. Her work will result in significant advancements in laser technology, as well as more broadly for the international optics community”
Mariastefania is continuing her development of the new type of high-energy and high power lasers by studying “Advanced Gain Materials for High Energy, High Average Power Lasers,” the topic of her Industrial Fellowship awarded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, in parallel with her Engineering Doctorate at Heriot-Watt University. Stefania’s research aims to improve the repetition rate, output energy, and emission bandwidth of DiPOLE lasers, making them suitable for day-to-day application in the industry and the healthcare sectors.
Her most cited first-author work is entitled “Characterisation of adhesive-free bonded crystalline Yb:YAG for high energy laser applications.” Her co-author, and President of Onyx Optics, David Meissner, stated the following: “Over the course of our business relationship, I have been privileged to work with her both on a specification for solid state laser components as well as a joint publication. Ms. De Vido’s project will have high visibility and impact on future high power lasers. It appears to be a unique and scalable approach which will have ramifications for her organization and her country, both for commercial lasers as well as ongoing research uses.”
In addition to her technical contributions and scientific outputs, she also has two patents awarded which will further benefit the development of this UK-based laser technology.