World premiere of virtual laser lab “femtoPro”

View the virtual lab. Credits: Stefan Müller / Universität Würzburg

In everyday life, we know lasers for a variety of applications, such as laser printers and supermarket scanners. Industrially, lasers are used in material handling for cutting, drilling, labeling, and medicine for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Laser spectroscopy is also indispensable for scientific research.

Theoretical education of optics is established in schools, universities and industrial sites. However, it is difficult to teach and learn how to set up and properly process optical experiments. Due to the high cost, equipment and education staff are usually limited. father, laser Radiation is dangerous and must follow strict eye safety protocols.

A new educational approach in virtual reality

Currently, scientists at Julius-Maximilian University (JMU) in Würzburg have developed a new virtual reality (VR) laser laboratory, “femtoPro”. In femtoPro, the user wears VR goggles and operates the optics on the VR laser table. In this way, you can intuitively change the coarse and fine positions of mirrors, lenses, iris apertures, or other devices with the same attention to detail as in a real laboratory. The properties and effects of these elements on the laser beam are calculated and displayed in real time according to the laws of physics.

“Flight simulators have become an integral part of the pilot’s hands-on practice. We applied this concept to the world’s first short-pulse laser,” said Tobias Brixner, one of the femtoPro developers and chair of physical chemistry. The professor explains. I am in JMU Würzburg. His research focuses on ultra-short laser pulses.

Credit: Würzburg University

Low cost despite high complexity

The difficulty of the VR approach, contrary to popular belief, is that the laser beam is not only “linear”, but also has a “Gauss” cross section, the diameter of which increases and decreases as it propagates. Is possible to do. In addition, the interaction with matter is very complex and includes well-known phenomena such as refraction of light on glass and nonlinear optics leading to frequency conversion (ie color change). As a result, accurate simulations are usually very time consuming.

“To enable an interactive learning lab for such optical systems in VR, we needed to speed up the required computations and perform them in real time on a commercial consumer VR platform,” said co-partner Sebastian von Mammen. The professor explains. Game Engineering Group of Computer Science Chair for Human-Computer Interaction at JMU. As a result, the acquisition cost of a virtual lab is only a few hundred euros, but a real short pulse laser lab requires an investment of hundreds of thousands of euros.

Product launch at the “Highlights der Physik” event

After two years of development work, the first version of femtoPro will be open to the public for the first time at the “Highlights der Physik” event in Würzburg. As part of a large experiential exhibition on the market from September 28th to October 2nd, 2021, officials said Booth B2 (“Let the Force be with you!-Lightsaber and Laser Pulse!” You can wear VR goggles and experiment with “) using a laser in a virtual laboratory.

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Quote: The world premiere of the virtual laser lab “femtoPro” (September 24, 2021) is from in September 2021. Obtained on the 24th.

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World premiere of virtual laser lab “femtoPro”

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