Swept Laser vs Traditional Lasers: Unraveling the Difference

Lasers have emerged as a life-changing technology lately and transformed numerous industries, including telecommunications, manufacturing, healthcare medicine, military, and scientific research. Laser technology has become an integral tool in many disciplines because of its ability to generate highly focused, coherent, and concentrated beams. These extremely concentrated laser beams have enabled a variety of different uses, including precision cutting, imaging, and communication.

Traditional lasers have found revolutionary uses in all sorts of fields for many years now. However, with the advancement in laser technology in recent times, new variations of lasers, like swept lasers, have emerged, providing special advantages over conventional lasers. This blog compares the effectiveness and performance of swept lasers and conventional lasers to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each type of laser.

Fundamentals of Traditional Lasers

Conventional lasers work based on the concept of stimulated emission of radiation. In fact, the word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. They are made up of an active medium such as optical materials like crystal, glass, or gas and an energy source. When electrons in atoms of the active medium absorb the energy from a light source or electrical current, they emit coherent light -laser.

Based on the gain medium used, traditional lasers are mostly classified into Solid-state lasers, liquid lasers, gas lasers, and semiconductor lasers. Conventional lasers have always garnered recognition for their dependability, adaptability, and well-known history of use in fields such as cutting, drilling, welding, engraving, scanning, and medical treatments.

Introducing Swept Lasers

Let us now see what are Swept lasers and how they are different from the traditional ones. Swept lasers can basically generate an output pulse of light that is rapidly swept over a wide range of wavelengths.

The working principle of swept lasers involves the use of a rapidly tunable laser cavity. Hence, they are also known as tunable lasers. The purpose of this cavity is to generate a broad spectrum of light with an array of wavelengths. By adjusting the laser cavity’s length or refractive index, the laser emission can be constantly tuned to a range of wavelengths. Because of this unique capability, swept lasers have a variety of uses in different arenas.

The implementation of sweeping lasers varies depending on the technology used. The most common ones are:

Visit Inphenix to meet your Swept source laser needs. You can get standard as well as customized specifications. Our Lasers offer deep penetration, long coherence length, and high resolution. 

Comparative Analysis of Traditional Lasers versus Swept Lasers

As we know the basics of traditional and swept lasers, let us see how they both compete with each other.

Performance Comparison: Speed and Range 

In situations where high power and continuous wave operation are necessary, conventional lasers have proven their worth. Swept lasers, however, offer several benefits for scanning applications. Swept lasers can quickly scan a variety of wavelengths, enabling quicker data collection and imaging. Swept lasers are perfect for applications that need real-time data capture including optical coherence tomography (OCT) and 3D imaging due to their speed advantage. Even though they are dependable, conventional lasers cannot scan with the same speed and range as sweeping lasers.

Performance Comparison: Resolution and Accuracy

Resolution and precision are crucial in many applications, however, because of having a fixed wavelength output, traditional lasers have several limits when it comes to reaching high resolution. Swept lasers, on the other hand, may take exact measurements and capture fine details by quickly scanning across a variety of wavelengths. providing more precision and resolution. This benefit is especially useful in areas like medical diagnostics, where the capacity to spot minute changes and anomalies is crucial.

Efficiency Comparison: Energy Consumption

In laser technology, energy use is a crucial factor to consider in terms of both operating costs and environmental effects. Traditional lasers need an extremely powerful energy source, which results in substantial energy consumption. On the contrary, Swept lasers can produce comparable results while using less energy by utilising tunable laser sources and optimising the scanning procedure. This efficiency advantage results in lower operating costs and a more environmentally friendly approach to laser applications. 

Efficiency Comparison: System complexity and size

Traditional lasers and swept lasers have different levels of system complexity and size; swept lasers often have an edge in terms of simplicity and compactness. Traditional lasers may need complicated installations and extensive maintenance, particularly for projects that require specific beam properties or environmental conditions. Furthermore, conventional laser systems can be large and take up a lot of room. In comparison, swept laser systems are less sophisticated and have a simpler architecture. Swept laser systems may be deployed more flexibly in a variety of applications because of their small design, which also makes it simpler to incorporate them into existing systems. In businesses where mobility and compactness are essential elements, this space-saving feature is very beneficial. 


Although Swept lasers have numerous benefits, they also have certain limitations. One main limitation is that their average power output is lower than that of the traditional ones. Also, they have a shorter coherence length as compared to conventional lasers, and swept lasers, especially those based on semiconductor technology, can be sensitive to variations in environmental conditions such as temperature. Due to their proven interoperability with existing systems and extensive history, conventional lasers may still be preferred in some applications. Hence, It is crucial to evaluate the unique needs of each application and select the laser technology in accordance.

Ending Note:

With better performance and efficiency in some applications, swept lasers have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional lasers. They are an appealing choice for many businesses owing to their capacity to quickly scan over a range of wavelengths, achieve improved resolution and accuracy, use less energy, and provide a simpler setup. However, it is important to take into account the unique requirements of each application and assess the benefits and drawbacks of both sweeping lasers and conventional lasers. We may anticipate further developments and openings in the sector as laser technology progresses. Contact Inphenix Inc. for your specific laser needs.