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  • Sydor Instruments Licenses Laser Lab's ROSS Technology
Sep 2004
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Sept. 10 -- A camera designed by researchers at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics to take incredibly quick snapshots of its giant laser in action has been licensed exclusively to a Rochester business, Sydor Instruments LLC, to commercialize the technology for use in research around the world.

The device, the Rochester optical streak system (ROSS), is a camera that takes in light from very brief events and turns it into data rather than an actual picture. The Laboratory of Laser Energetics houses the world’s most powerful laser, the 60-beam Omega. At the lab, the streak camera records how tiny pellets of fusion fuel react when they are hit with different laser speeds and energies. This high-speed "snapshot" occurs in less than a billionth of a second. Other uses for streak cameras include particle accelerator experiments, catching chemical reactions in mid-process and the measurement of light-based technologies such as those used in the telecommunications industry.

What sets the university’s camera apart from other streak cameras is that it is extremely accurate. It employs an automatic calibration to ensure it is operating at peak effectiveness, and it is this ability to self-calibrate that is the real innovation behind the patented laser lab design, the university said in a statement.

"Calibration of most streak cameras requires a large super-fast laser, which is cumbersome and takes time to set up properly," the university said. "The new design instead slows down the operation of the streak camera to allow more precise calibration -- much like slowing down a movie to let an editor make more precise cuts."

Calibrating in this manner creates very low background noise and allows a much smaller laser to be used. It is so compact it can be housed as part of the camera itself. With a self-included calibration module, the new streak camera ensures it is operating as accurately as possible each time it’s used.

Sydor Instruments said it already has orders pending for the new cameras, which sell for between $325,000 and $375,000 each. The company plans to be producing the instrument by early next year.
Sydor Instruments was founded earlier this year to commercialize high-precision instruments by transferring technology from laser research programs that develop new instrument technology to other laser research programs in need of measuring new levels of performance.

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