The winners of the 2010 Prism Awards for photonics innovation were announced Jan. 26 at a gala ceremony in San Francisco during Photonics West. In a room full of industry leaders, nine companies were honored in nine categories for their outstanding achievements. The Prism Awards is an international competition sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE to recognize photonic products that challenge conventional ideas, solve problems and improve life through the generation and harnessing of light. A panel of independent industry experts judged dozens of entries, selecting the winners from among 26 finalists (for a complete list of finalists, see the January 2011 issue of Photonics Spectra). The winners are: Scientific Lasers EKSPLA NT200 series nanosecond tunable wavelength lasers The NT200 series lasers are the first nanosecond lasers that can offer tunability from the ultraviolet (210 nm) to the infrared (2600 nm) without gaps in the tuning range and operating at a computer-controlled, hands-free pulse repetition rate of 1 kHz. Experiments requiring such a widely tunable monochromatic light source were not possible before now because the low laser repetition rate made data acquisition too slow. Defense and Security Block Engineering LaserScan QCL-based spectrometers LaserScan is a handheld mid-IR quantum cascade laser spectrometer that analyzes surfaces from a standoff of inches to feet. This product approaches spectroscopy from a completely different perspective, where no broadband emitting source or Michelson interferometer is required. Instead, the mid-IR laser source can be widely (600 cm—1) and rapidly tuned to create a spectrum. The unit’s extremely fast electronics allow the detector to essentially correlate the light that it collects with the specific wavelength of the laser as it rapidly and continuously tunes across the range. Other Light Sources Energetiq Technology Inc. EQ-99 LDLS™ laser-driven light source This product delivers broadband spectral output from 170 nm in the deep-UV through the visible spectrum and into the infrared for advanced spectroscopic and imaging applications. The EQ-99 LDLS provides more than 10 times the brightness, 10 times the lifetime and a broader bandwidth than xenon and deuterium lamps, changing the paradigm in broadband illumination and enabling a new generation of smaller, faster, more precise spectroscopy or imaging instruments not possible with these traditional lamps. Test, Measurement, Metrology Lumen Dynamics Group, formerly EXFO Life Sciences & Industrial Div. X-Cite XP750 The X-Cite XP750 sensor is uniquely shaped like a microscope slide, so it fits easily in standard stage clips to hold it in place during use. The sensor is thin enough (9 mm) to fit under the objectives on an upright microscope without the stage or condenser having to be removed. Other devices on the market were designed for other applications and are either long “wand” style types that are awkward to keep in place on the microscope stage, or thick “discs” that do not fit under the objectives on an upright microscope. Life Sciences and Biophotonics JenLab GmbH MPTflex A clinical multiphoton tomograph for skin imaging, the MPTflex overcomes the poor resolution of skin imaging methods such as ultrasound, OCT and reflection. By using two-photon technology, the system’s in vivo high-resolution skin imaging provides marker-free optical biopsies. The novel tomograph is a compact system with a flexible scan head that includes two detectors for simultaneous measurement of auto-fluorescence and the second-harmonic generation. Detectors, Sensing, Imaging and Cameras General Electric TrueSense personal water analytics The TrueSense is a stand-alone system based on multicolor LEDs and a 44-cell sampler platform for wavelength-multiplexed quantitative and highly selective chemical analysis of industrial water. The field-deployable system performs eight water quality tests from a single 3-ml sample in minutes, slashing previous sample times by an estimated 80 percent. It minimizes the need to maintain an inventory of reagent chemicals and equipment for testing, and considerably cuts testing costs. Simplified testing procedures require only easy steps that anyone can perform. Information and Communication Photonis USA Optical receiver module Before the creation of this receiver, one had to choose between optical receivers using solid-state designs with high speeds but very small active areas, or photomultiplier designs with small output currents. This module bridges the gap by having a large collection area – an active input diameter of 12 mm – while also maintaining a data speed of 2 GHz. The reliability of signal current in the blue-green wavelength range improves without significant bit error rates, enabling through-the-air or underwater communications in environmental circumstances that are less than ideal. The receiver’s low power requirements mean that it can be used in unmanned locations. Industrial Lasers IPG Photonics Long-pulse fiber lasers YLR-150/1500-QCW-AC This new type of laser – the long-pulse, high-pulse-energy fiber laser – addresses the problem of replacing the aging population of inefficient flashlamp-pumped solid-state lasers with much smaller and longer-lasting diode-pumped devices. The proprietary pump diodes used in these lasers can be pulsed at 10 times their average power. In a quasi-continuous regime, they can pump an active fiber to produce 15 J from a 150-W fiber laser. Optics and Optical Components Edmund Optics TechSpec plastic hybrid aspheric lenses These low-cost optical components are free of both spherical and chromatic aberration, providing optical designers with a unique single-element solution for achieving diffraction-limited focusing performance at high numerical apertures with broadband light sources. While this concept has been well-established for years in the infrared, these are the first hybrid aspheres designed to work in the visible spectrum.