Professor Baker received B.Sc.in Physics and Ph.D. in Laser Physics from Manchester University. Postdoctoral research at Manchester was on pulsed iodine photo-dissociation lasers. In 1980, he became a Lecturer in Applied Physics at Hull University, with research on mercury halide and TEA CO2 lasers and magnetic switching circuits for electrical pulse generation. In 1987, he became Senior Lecturer in Physics at Heriot-Watt University allowing research specialisation in both laser physics and laser engineering. He played a leading role in development of scalable lasers with RF discharge excitation, and CO2 planar waveguide and array lasers were pioneered. The work aided the establishment of a currently successful laser manufacturer in the UK. This expertise in the new CO2 laser technology led to applications research on laser drilling of circuit boards, machining of unfired LTCC ceramic laminations and precision micro-machining and polishing of silica optics.
His main interest has been in high power diode lasers, used directly or as pump units for solid-state lasers. A novel diode pumping scheme led to world-leading performance from planar waveguide solid-state lasers. He devised a new technique for fabricating optics to correct the poor beam quality of diode laser bars, combining a novel wavefront measurement technique with custom laser micro-machining. He co-founded PowerPhotonic Ltd, aimed at commercialising this process. Current research continues on the use of laser direct-writing techniques in optics manufacture, and application of laser-cut optics in the general area of high average power industrial diode lasers. A new area is ceramic technology research on vacuum sintered, transparent laser materials for solid-state laser amplifiers and laser-machined LTTC ceramic substrate technology for diode laser packaging.
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