Refractory materials, such as fused quartz plates and rods are welded using a heat source, such as a high power continuous wave carbon dioxide laser. The radiation is optimized through a process of varying the power, the focus, and the feed rates of the laser such that full penetration welds may be accomplished. The process of optimization varies the characteristic wavelengths of the laser until the radiation is almost completely absorbed by the refractory material, thereby leading to a very rapid heating of the material to the melting point. This optimization naturally occurs when a carbon dioxide laser is used to weld quartz. As such this method of quartz welding creates a minimum sized heat-affected zone. Furthermore, the welding apparatus and process requires a ventilation system to carry away the silicon oxides that are produced during the welding process to avoid the deposition of the silicon oxides on the surface of the quartz plates or the contamination of the welds with the silicon oxides.
This invention was made with Government support under Contract Number W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the United States Department of Energy to The Regents of the University of California. The Government has certain rights in the invention.