Laser Industry Report

FEL achieves 10-kW infrared output; Boeing continues work on airborne lasers; Photodynamic therapy targets dental bacteria; MORE...

FEL achieves 10-kW infrared output

The Free-Electron Laser (FEL), located at the U.S. Department of Energy Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Newport News, VA), has achieved 10 kW of IR laser energy, making it the most powerful tunable laser in the world. The FEL program began as the One-Kilowatt Demonstration FEL, which delivered 2.1 kW of infrared light before it was taken offline in November 2001 for an upgrade to 10 kW. When completed, the refurbished FEL will be capable of being tuned from 14 to 0.25 µm.

In related news, the FY2005 Defense Appropriations Conference Report, which passed the U.S. Senate in late July, calls for $18 million in federal funding for medical free-electron laser (MFEL) research at Vanderbilt University, among other universities within this consortium. The conference report is now awaiting President Bush's signature.

Boeing continues work on airborne lasers

The High-Energy Laser Joint Technology Office has awarded a $1.4 million contract to Boeing-SVS (Albuquerque, NM) to increase the precision of airborne high-energy lasers through improved compensation for aero-optical induced turbulence in high-speed aircraft. Using a wind tunnel, Boeing-SVS will develop and validate a model of aerodynamic flow for laser-beam propagation from an airborne platform. The resulting model is intended for application on a future high-energy laser fighter. Specifically, Boeing will be working with the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana), where the wind-tunnel measurements will be conducted.

Photodynamic therapy targets dental bacteria

The dental-laser market has been dominated by applications that involve cutting and ablating soft and hard tissue. But many related applications hold strong end-user potential as well, such as tooth whitening, cleaning, and diagnostic imaging. An emerging nonsurgical application for lasers involves a form of photodynamic therapy designed to disinfect and kill bacteria in the mouth.

Denfotex (Inverkeithing, Scotland), a spinoff of Carl-Zeiss (Jena, Germany) that has developed a photo-activated disinfection (PAD) technique the company says kills the bacteria associated with cavities, reducing the time and unpleasantness of many dental procedures. The PAD technique combines pharmaceutical-grade tolonium chloride with a 635-nm diode laser; when exposed to the low-power (100 mW) laser, the solution disinfects the tooth by releasing reactive oxygen species that disrupt the membrane of the microorganism, eliminating the need to further scrape, clean, or overdrill the tooth.

Ondine Biopharma (Vancouver, BC, Canada), has developed a similar technology the company calls photodynamic disinfection (PDD), designed to kill periodontal bacteria and ease gum disease. The Ondine approach involves "painting" a Photocidex compound onto infected gums and then exposing the gums to low-level red-laser energy. If the company's 250-person clinical trial next year is successful, the PDD system could be on the market in 2006, with the system selling for about $2000.

Sematech to support 193-nm lithography

International Sematech (Austin, TX) has established the193-nm immersion Technology Center (iTC), which is designed to bring together scientists and researchers to support the development of 193-nm immersion lithography. The iTC, which has a total estimated budget of $15 million, will support the development of photoresists, fluids, and other components for high-numerical-aperture 193-nm immersion technology. In related news, Sematech and Exitech (Oxford, England) are collaborating to develop the first ultra-high-numerical-aperture 193-nm immersion lithography tool. According to developers, the MS-193i microexposure tool will help speed the development of critical infrastructure for immersion lithography at the iTC.

Also in the news . . .

EM4 (Bedford, MA) purchased the intellectual property and assets of PowerNetix (San Jose, CA). The purchase includes PowerNetix Uniline packaging technology, optical-manufacturing fixtures, and all PowerNetix's pending and existing patents. . . . Nuvonyx (Bridgeton, MO) shipped two 24-kW continuous-wave laser-diode arrays to the Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems division, in July. According to the company, the arrays met or exceeded all of the specifications requested and were delivered on time and within budget. . . . Princeton Lightwave (Cranbury, NJ) will develop scalable eye-safe solid-state lasers with InP-based ultra-low-photon-defect diode pumping through a two-year, $1 million U.S. Air Force contract. The project is expected to culminate in the development of multikilowatt eye-safe solid-state lasers.

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