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  • Novel Optic Device Tested at CAPE
Mar 2006
NEW YORK, March 13, 2006 -- Researchers have produced what they claim is the first working prototype of a new ultrashort pulse laser that they said should be less expensive to manufacture and more flexible than photonic components currently on the market. The researchers, working at the Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at the University of Cambridge, England, said the new technology could significantly reduce the cost of doing business in industries including telecommunications and medical diagnostics.
Advance Nanotech Inc. (AVNA), a provider of financing and support services to expedite commercialization of nanotechnology discoveries, runs the center and funded the research.
Ultrashort lasers are widely used for optical communication, material processing, marking and drilling, and medical diagnostics and therapeutics. AVNA said the new lasers are compact and use only a tenth of a milligram of carbon nanotube material at a cost of about 10 cents per device. The device, which produces subpicosecond pulses, can be quickly and easily plugged into existing laser systems without sophisticated and time-consuming alignments traditionally associated with modifying optics equipment, it said.
"Our component can be inserted into a laser system and immediately produce stable, ultrashort, high-power optical pulses without the need for precise alignment," said Ian White, head of photonics research at CAPE. "In addition, the intrinsic robustness of our working prototype means that it can be easily moved and shipped without any risk of damage."
Peter Gammel, senior vice president of electronics at Advance Nanotech, said, "Since the AVNA/CAPE laser combines the unique optical properties of carbon nanotubes to generate ultrashort pulses in a range of operating wavelengths, with the mechanical and structural strength of nanotubes to handle high optical powers and energies, we expect to find wide-spread application in optics and laser technology."
The investment in the ultrashort laser project was made in partnership with CAPE at the Department of Engineering of the University of Cambridge. CAPE is a research facility for electrical engineering with a staff of 20 academics, 70 post-doctoral researchers and 170 research students. CAPE is funded by Advance Nanotech, Alps Electric Company Ltd., Dow Corning Corp. and Marconi Corp.
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