ORC Seminars 2011

Simplicity in engineering: easy to say; hard to do.

Speaker: Dr John Barr, Selex Galileo

Date: 23 March 2011

Time: 2pm

Venue: B53 Seminar Room


Laser engineering for rugged environments provides many challenges for the design team including performance, schedule and cost. The solution is an optimised design - but how do we find it? Some basic principles and constraints will be explained for lasers in these environments and examples of solutions given. The path is not always straightforward and does depend on individuals knowledge, previous experience and training.

The specific example of the design of a high energy optical parametric oscillator (OPO) will be given. The starting point was a design that had been developed over a number of years of lab based work. However, once in service, it was clear that the design had a basic flaw leading to poor manufacturing yield. The detective story required that the root cause be identified from several candidates. The corrective action then had to be implemented in a design that was now strongly constrained by the existing OPO space envelope and local environment.

The outcome was a new design based on fairly old principles. It is interesting to note that this new design was both more robust and cheaper to manufacture than its predecessor. The question of why the more optimal design was missed is of interest and may be relevant to the education of laser engineers.

Concepts discovered (or re-discovered) have been applied to new lasers (not just OPOs) to provide simplification and a reduction in parts count.


John Barr is the Chief Engineer for the Advanced Targeting Sector of Selex Galileo in Edinburgh. Over the last 7 years he has lead the engineering team that developed a series of successful laser products growing the laser business from almost nothing to a revenue in excess of 50M per year. This export lead growth supported a Queens Award for export in 2010. He has also worked for Bookham Technology, Nortel Networks, Thales Optronics and was a founder member of the ORC while a lecturer at Southampton University.

Copyright University of Southampton 2006