Reaction bonded silicon carbide material characteristics as related to its use in high power laser systems
Reaction bonded silicon carbide (RB SiC) is a durable material that is well-suited for use as a high power laser mirror substrate. The reaction bonded material has a low mass density, a high Young's Modulus, good thermal conductivity, and a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. All of these properties are beneficial in mirror substrates used in multikilowatt lasers. In conjunction with the development of RB SiC, special polishing processes, fabrication processes, and coatings have also been developed. In this paper we will present a comparison of the material properties of RB SiC and other mirror materials currently used in high power lasers. A brief overview of the critical fabrication and coating processes will also be reviewed. Finally, we will present thermal heat load test data showing the surface deformation of various high power mirrors used under heat loads typically found in laser systems operating at average powers greater than 10 kilowatts.