Efficiency matters

Increasing global demand for energy is driving up costs and pushing energy providers to seek more efficient production methods.

Pennwell web 90 86

Increasing global demand for energy is driving up costs and pushing energy providers to seek more efficient production methods. In the case of oil and gas wells, implementation of more complex higher-yield extraction techniques typically calls for improved monitoring of the "downhole" conditions, like temperature and pressure. Fiber-optic sensing is proving a useful ally in the drive to maximize the extraction efficiency of these wells (see page 55). Meanwhile, in the endless challenge to improve the efficiency of lasers, the advent of near-IR diode pumps has revived development of alkali lasers because of the high efficiency with which the diodes can pump alkali vapors. Such systems could scale to outputs well over 100 kW from a single aperture and have garnered serious interest from the US Missile Defense Agency (see page 49).

The study of reaction dynamics with time-resolved spectroscopy has been a mainstay of ultrafast-laser-based research since these lasers were invented. And as increasingly faster laser pulses have become available, the time resolution of pump-probe experiments has also increased. Hence, the pump-probe technique can be used to investigate an ever-growing range of dynamics in fields from materials science to biology. The reach of such experiments is expanding even further as femtosecond laser systems are combined with free electron lasers (see cover and page 33).

Have your say!

Major changes are proposed to the way in which lasers are classified for export—and you may want to take notice. The US Department of Commerce intends to implement a "tiering" system for dual-use exports, and apparently lasers are candidates for Tier 1, where controls will be the strictest. This change could really hurt US laser producers by making it more difficult for them to export their products. The Commerce Department is soliciting opinions from industry and Breck Hitz, executive director of the Laser and Electro-Optics Manufacturers' Association (LEOMA; Pacifica, CA) is asking laser companies to provide industry input on this important laser export issue.

Contact him atbreck@leoma.com.

Pennwell web 90 86Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher
Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

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