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Photonics Innovators are Finalists for 2014 Prism Awards

BELLINGHAM, Wash., and PITTSFIELD, Mass., Dec. 3, 2013 — Light-based products that detect hidden explosives or drugs, hyperspectrally image potential ground threats from the air, and push the boundaries of scientific exploration are among the finalists for the 2014 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation, an annual competition recognizing new products and inventions that break with conventional ideas, solve problems and improve life.

The awards are sponsored by SPIE and Photonics Media, with winners to be announced by industry leaders during SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

Entries are judged by an independent panel of experts, including industry executives, leading academic researchers, venture capitalists and past Prism Award winners.

New products that solve problems in health care, food and drug safety, manufacturing, and that advance scientific understanding are among the finalists in the nine categories for 2014.

“With such impressive products and such varied applications, selecting finalists was indeed challenging for the judges,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “Competitors include larger, well-established companies as well as newer and smaller firms from throughout the world working in a wide variety of sectors. These new products can improve our ability to diagnose cancer without invading the body, navigate our world with more accurate GPS systems, save money and resources with more efficient solar energy generation, and advance the manufacturing revolution with the ability to print even microsized parts using 3-D printers — and much more. The broad range reflects the extensive reach and power of photonics in our lives and is a tribute to the creativity of our extraordinarily entrepreneurial community.”

"This is an exciting time to be working in photonics. The Prism Awards finalists are writing new chapters to an industry success story that has been building for more than 50 years," said Laurin Publishing CEO Tom Laurin. "In scientific lasers, life sciences and biophotonics, industrial lasers, advanced manufacturing and all of the categories, these companies are ushering in big changes in the way we live and work, and we proudly support their achievements by supporting the Prism Awards."

Winners will be announced at a gala banquet on Feb. 6 that has become one of the largest gatherings of CEOs and other VIPs in the photonics industry. Past presenters include industry leaders such as Bikash Koley, principal architect and manager, network architecture, Google; Waguih Ishak, vice president and director, West Coast research, Corning; Michael Mertin, president and CEO, Jenoptik, and president, Photonics21; and Allison Lami Sawyer, CEO of Rebellion Photonics, winner of this year’s Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year competition.

The Prism Awards were developed to recognize innovative products that are newly available on the open market. Each category is meant to isolate a specific contribution in photonics, in a technology area or sector of the industry. Categories have been added, removed and updated over time to reflect trends in the industry. One winner will be selected from among the three finalists in each category.

Finalist companies and their products, by category, are:

Advanced Manufacturing

Haas Laser Technologies Inc.
: BWA-MON (Beam Waist Analyzer MONitor) 

In every laser application, the laser beam profile provides valuable information for the most efficient use of the laser. Monitoring the laser beam’s spatial profile, circularity, centroid, astigmatism and M-squared values provides early warning of any problems with the laser and the entire beam delivery optical system. The BWA-MON is a patent-pending instrument that measures the focused beam waist of a laser beam without moving parts when used in conjunction with the Haas LTI patented BWA-CAM. Prior to the advent of the BWA-CAM, all beam waist analyzer devices used some sort of moving or spinning components that make real-time measurement of a laser's M-squared values impractical for online or real- time applications. The BWA-MON is a modular focus head design that can be configured for most applications and laser wavelengths. The design contains no “moving components” and provides instantaneous measurement and analysis of the laser beam and its optical elements.

Innolite GmbH: Ilcentric  

With Ilcentric, Innolite has developed a turning process for an ultraprecision machine that has no need for the alignment of the mount to the spindle axis. Instead, an autocollimator measures the absolute position of the optical axis with reference to the spindle axis. Ilcentric can be used for high-end consumer objectives, but also for objectives used in lithography and microscopy applications.

Nanoscribe GmbH: Photonic Professional GT 

Photonic Professional GT, provides a fast and powerful platform for micro- and nanofabrication demands up to the third dimension. Almost arbitrarily complex shaped polymer structures with finest feature sizes in the sub-micrometer range are achieved by means of two-photon polymerization. A tremendous speed-up of the writing process is driven by an embedded ultrahigh precision galvo technology, which laterally de?ects the laser focus position by use of a galvanic mirror system.

Defense and Security


Hubner GmbH & Co. KG: T-COGNITION  

T-COGNITION, a terahertz spectrometer, was developed by Hubner in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques (Fraunhofer IPM). Billed as an intelligent security system, T-COGNITION identifies hidden drugs and explosives in letters and small packages. Within seconds, T-COGNITION identifies the spectroscopic fingerprint of the hazardous substance or material by comparing the data with its own database. The system is designed to enhance work safety in prisons, at custom controls, and in companies and embassies, among others.

Infrasign: SPoT  

SPoT (Sensitive Picture of Traces), Infrasign’s first explosive trace detection product, is a three-quantum-cascade-laser multiplexed explosive trace sensor capable of detecting trace elements of explosives, chemicals, narcotics and sugar. The handheld product can scan an area at least 6 × 6 in. at a standoff distance of 8 feet.

Ocean Optics Inc.: IDRaman mini  

The IDRaman mini is a small, powerful handheld Raman instrument designed to make rapid and accurate measurements, from rugged field measurements of chemical and explosive agents to quality assurance and quality control in the laboratory. Weak signals from unknown and non-uniform samples are a common problem for handheld Raman instruments. IDRaman mini moves beyond these systems with Raster Orbital Scanning (ROS) technology. The IDRaman identifies, authenticates and verifies samples in applications such as counterfeit detection, verification of incoming materials, harsh and demanding environments, and in-line or at-line testing.

Detectors, Sensing, Imaging, and Cameras


BaySpec Inc.: OCI-1000 Handheld Hyperspectral Imager 

The OCI-1000 is a handheld hyperspectral imager based on low-cost semiconductor manufacturing processes that acquires full, continuous VNIR hyperspectral data with high spectral resolution and excellent sensitivity even in low-light conditions. High-end spectral imagers used in satellite, airborne or standoff surveillance systems, although revolutionary, are still expensive, bulky and complex to use. Bulky glass lenses, spectrometers and the mechanical movements to achieve focus and zoom are hampering the development of truly compact high-quality spectral imagers. With the OCI-1000, BaySpec has developed a highly integrated spectral imager that provides a detailed view of the spectrum for every point in an image. Integrating this capability on an image sensor at the chip level results in a spectral imager that weighs only 8 oz. and can be installed on miniature UAV drones or on conveyor belts in production lines.

Stanford Computer Optics Inc.: XXRapidFrame framing camera  

The XXRapidFrame, a multichannel-intensified CCD framing camera, enables consecutive image series in high resolution with a corresponding frame rate of 100 billion frames per second, providing revolutionary access to the fastest phenomena in nature. All 8 full-size high-resolution images can be recorded within a time period as short as 1 nanosecond for applications including ultrahigh-speed photography of plasma development or lightning, among other ultrafast phenomena. The camera provides time accuracy with excellent imaging quality without ghosting or parallax, and its UV-enhanced image splitter enables measurements in the UV, VIS and IR spectral ranges.

Tornado Spectral Systems: OCTANE-860  

The OCTANE-860, a nanophotonic spectrometer, overcomes the bulk limitations of conventional optics. The turnkey, fully integrated package never requires alignment and can be customized for high-resolution or broad-bandwidth preferences. Standard fabrication processes used in prototyping are easily transferable to commercial foundries. The OCTANE-860 is a free-space performance, on-chip spectrometer with a flexible center wavelength and spectral range for OCT (optical coherence tomography) applications.

Industrial Lasers


DILAS Diodenlaser GmbH: Fiber-Coupled, Multi-Single Emitter Module  

The fiber-coupled, single-emitter module achieves high output power and exceptional brightness in the 450 nm spectral range, and can be used as a replacement for arc lamps in display applications such as cinema or large venue laser projectors. Its scalable approach allows for powers from 10 to 100 W (with 10 W and 25 W currently available). In addition, the fiber-coupled output power enables new medical applications such as blue light therapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT).

PolarOnyx Laser Inc.: Uranus mJ  

The Uranus mJ is a high-energy microjoule femtosecond fiber laser based on PolarOnyx’s patent-pending technology on pulse shaping, polarization shaping and spectral shaping. The high-energy ultrashort-pulsed (500 fs) fiber laser operates in the 1-µm wavelength for applications such as materials processing, ultrafast phenomena research, biomedical research and development, and photodetector characterization.

V-Gen ltd.: VPFL-ISP-1-40-HE-50000  

V-Gen’s VPFL-HE-50000 is a 50-W high-energy, short-pulse ytterbium fiber laser in MOPA configuration. The laser was created for precision-intensive industrial applications such as fine marking, fine materials processing, micromachining, scribing and deep engraving, thin-film cutting, and solar cell and silicon scribing and processing.

Life Science and Biophotonics


AccuVein Inc.: AV400 Vein Viewing System  

The AccuVein AV400 digitally displays a map of the vasculature on the surface of the skin in real time, allowing clinicians to verify vein patency and avoid valves or bifurcations. It is handheld and lightweight, weighing only 9.7 oz (275g) and easily converts to hands-free with the use of optional wheeled or fixed stands. The medical-grade design allows the device to be easily wiped clean and bagged for use in isolation, and it does not require calibration, as it is permanently aligned. With center-line accuracy to the width of a human hair, the AV400 can detect veins up to 10 mm deep, making venipuncture procedures more comfortable for patients.

Holomic LLC: Rapid Diagnostic Reader (HRDR-200) 

The Holomic Rapid Diagnostic Reader (HRDR-200) is an economical handheld reader enabling more reliable lateral flow immunoassay tests, instant access to electronic health records, and real-time, wide-area diagnostic data collection. The reader uses the latest smartphone technology for applications including point-of-care, telemedicine and public health monitoring. HRDR-200 is compliant with ISO13485 and is registered with the FDA as a Class 1 medical device. The HRDR-200 is available for sale globally, but in the US it is only available for nonclinical research use.

Optofluidics: NanoTweezer  

The NanoTweezer system enables reversible, high-throughput imaging and characterization of submicron particles, protein aggregates and other nanomaterials at the flip of a switch. It is a complete nanoparticle analysis engine that turns a microscope into a nanoparticle analysis engine in 5 minutes. With its patented chip-based photonic resonance trapping technology, the NanoTweezer allows the manipulation and analysis of objects much smaller than those held by traditional optical tweezers, without damaging their structure. A specially designed microscope mount enables direct interfacing of the chips to existing microscopy equipment and spectroscopy systems.

Optics and Optical Components


Arrayed Fiberoptics Corp.: Noncontact optical fiber connector  

The predominant optical fiber connectors for commercial applications use physical contact (PC), in which two optical fiber end faces are pushed together to eliminate the air gap between them and suppress the light reflections at the glass-air interfaces. The “noncontact” (NC) fiber connector represents the next generation of optical fiber connector by eliminating this physical contact. It includes an intentional small air gap to prevent damage to the optical surfaces and uses antireflection coatings to suppress the light reflections at the glass-air interfaces. The NC optical fiber connector features very low insertion loss (less than 0.1 dB), excellent return loss (greater than 65 dB) and minimal insertion loss variation (less than 0.01 dB).

Compass Electro-Optical Systems: r10004 Router  

The r10004 is powered by icPhotonics, the first silicon chip-to-chip photonics implementation and a breakthrough technology developed by Compass-EOS. The r10004 uses the power of light to create a new breed of modular carrier-class router, setting the stage for distributed scalable routing. The r10004′s architecture is based on an optical full mesh that replaces the switching fabric and midplane common in traditional routers. The result is an unlimited bandwidth between all line cards; each line card can receive full line-rate traffic from all other line cards without dropping packets.

Si-Ware Systems: MEMS FT-IR Spectrometer  

Using its proprietary SiMOST platform, Si-Ware developed a monolithic FT-IR spectrometer that can operate in NIR and MIR spectral ranges. Its advantages over the current state-of-the-art MEMS interferometers include the fact that it is a completely integrated device, is highly robust and doesn’t use any fragile structures, is highly tolerant of fabrication process variations, has a wavelength-independent splitting ratio, and can accommodate either metallic or Bragg mirrors. The product is expected to create new markets for spectroscopy in applications that require high portability and/or tolerance to vibration, such as: spectroscopy, surface profile measurements, refractive index/material recognition, OCT and vibration sensing.

Other Light Sources


CoolLED Ltd.: pE-4000  

Because users can operate the pE-4000 as a simple white light source (replacing a conventional mercury-based light source) or as an advanced, fully controllable excitation and stimulation source, the system is the universal light source for fluorescence microscopy. The flexibility and extensive functionality of the pE-4000 broadens the range of illumination options in core facilities. Wavelength grouping ensures optimal compatibility with all single and multiband filter sets.

Necsel: Frequency Converted Green Laser Array  

The “Necsel” platform uses patented frequency-doubled technology to offer wavelengths from 530 to 555 nm. Below 530 nm, state-of-the-art “Matrix” direct-emitting technology is used. Various fiber coupling and power options are available.

QDLAser: Compact 561-nm laser module  

The QLD0593 series consists of compact visible laser modules that integrate 1064- to 1188-nm lasers with SHG (second harmonic generation) devices of PPLN (Periodically Poled LiNbO3). Different from a diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPSS), this laser utilizes DFB (distributed feedback) technology, which provides video-rate amplitude modulation capability and narrow spectral linewidth. These features are ideal for projectors and microscopy and also suitable for spectroscopy and sensing applications.

Scientific Lasers


Amplitude Technologies: PULSAR PW  

The PULSAR laser system delivers highly stable and reproducible ultrashort pulses with high temporal contrast. This makes unsurpassed levels of stable energy possible, allowing record particle acceleration performance to be achieved during demanding high-field physics applications.

Hubner GmbH & Co. KG: C-WAVE  

With C-Wave, a visible, widely tunable continuous wave, Hubner partnered with Fraunhofer IPM to develop a widely tunable, easy-to-operate single source for research and industrial applications such as spectroscopy, quantum optics and photochemistry. In C-Wave, the principle of continuous-wave (CW) optical parametric oscillators is combined with intracavity frequency doubling to generate coherent light across the whole visible range. It is the first CW source that allows the operator to tune from blue to red without any change of materials or components.

Lockheed Martin Aculight: Argos Orange 

Lockheed Martin Aculight’s Argos Orange is a single-frequency, continuous-wave optical parametric oscillator designed for visible-wavelength spectroscopy. It operates at room temperature with up to 3 W of orange light continuously tunable over a range of 604 to 616 nm. Applications for the Argos Orange, with its robust fiber laser pump source, include scientific research and development, spectroscopy, sensing and lidar, and atom trapping.


Test, Measurement, Metrology


Pie Photonics Ltd.: PieX  

At the heart of the PieX simultaneous source and sensor interferogram is Pie-in-a-Box technology, which Pie Photonics calls the “Swiss Army knife of optical measurement.” A portable, static, no-moving-parts interferometer, Pie-in-a-Box measures spectral content with subnanometer resolution across 600 nm (400 nm to 1000 nm) with a single camera capture. Pie technology readily translates across other electromagnetic regions and performance levels using appropriate materials and cameras to achieve higher sensitivity, resolution, dynamic range, bandwidth and capture rate.

Si-Ware Systems: MEMS FT-IR Spectrometer  

(See description under Optics and Optical Components category)

Zygo Corp.: Nexview™ Optical Profiler  

The Nexview 3-D optical surface profiler eliminates the need to select a profiler based on the type of surface to be measured. It is for no-compromise profiling of all types of surfaces, from rough to supersmooth, including thin films, steep slopes and large steps with feature heights ranging from <1 nm up to 20000 µm. The Nexview profiler measures topography of virtually any surface, from a superpolished optical surface with sub-Angstrom surface roughness, to steep machined angles up to 85°. And it does it in three dimensions, without contact, and provides the best qualities of other profiling technologies (stylus, confocal, focus scanning) without their disadvantages.

Many of the finalists will be showcasing their innovative products during the exhibition at SPIE Photonics West (Feb. 4-6) and BiOS (Feb. 1-2).

For more information, visit: www.photonicsprismaward.com 


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