CALTA scientists, Gary Quinn, Danielle Clarke and Mariastefania De Vido, with the team from ISTEC, Jan Hostasa, Valentina Biasini and Laura Esposito, outside CNR ISTEC institute.
This trip was part of a project funded by the Royal Society's International Exchanges scheme to develop more flexible techniques of sintering and manufacturing YAG-based (Yttrium aluminium garnet) ceramic gain materials for high energy, high repetition rate lasers (see also this related story). This visit was an excellent opportunity for the CLF team to familiarise themselves with the full ceramic production processes and to better understand the potential of this technology).
The CLF team also learnt about the other areas of research at ISTEC, such as the development of ceramics for space applications, restoration and conservation of cultural heritage and biomedical applications.
From methods for mixing powders, and different ways of shaping the ceramics, to vacuum sintering and annealing, the CALTA team learned about the whole process in great detail whilst also enjoying fine Italian cuisine!
Vacuum furnace for sintering the YAG-based ceramics at temperatures around 1750°C.
The first round of experiments focused on the optimisation of sintering aids to improve the optical quality of Yb:YAG material. The result of this research will be presented at the Optica Laser Congress in Barcelona in December (https://www.optica.org/events/congress/laser_congress/e-posters/poster/?id=3798964).
A Yb:YAG sample produced by ISTEC as part of this project.