The TLM-8700 tunable laser module produced by New Focus, a division of Bookham in San Jose, Calif., combines ultrafast, ultrawide and mode-hop-free tunability with narrow linewidths, low noise, and high accuracy and repeatability. The system is suitable for telecom testing, fiber sensing, spectroscopy, laser seeding, metrology, and high-throughput, real-time monitoring in telecommunications manufacturing. In fiber sensing applications, it monitors structural integrity in airplanes, bridges and buildings, water levels in streams and rivers, and well-bore conditions in oil fields. The external-cavity diode laser system offers 1- to 1000-nm/s tuning speeds over the 180-nm range, with 30-pm absolute wavelength accuracy and 0.1-pm wavelength resolution. Low-noise versions offer better than 70-dB amplified spontaneous emission noise performance and 3-dBm output. The high-power version offers better than 8 dBm of output with 40-dB amplified spontaneous emission. A voice coil motor produces tuning speeds of several thousand nanometers per second, and accurate and repeatable wavelength positioning over 100 million cycles. It produces high torque and low friction and wear, and is optimized to provide a stiff, low-inertia actuator, balanced around a single low-friction pivot. A balancing counterweight minimizes shock and vibration around the pivot point.