CLEO/Laser Focus World 2015 Innovation Awards

May 4, 2015
Aurea Technology, Northrop Grumman Cutting Edge Optronics, and Inrad Optics are this year's winners in the Analytical Instruments or Systems, Lasers and Sources, and Optical Components categories, respectively.

Aurea Technology, Northrop Grumman Cutting Edge Optronics, and Inrad Optics are this year's winners in the Analytical Instruments or Systems, Lasers and Sources, and Optical Components categories, respectively.

The 2015 CLEO/Laser Focus World Innovation Awards program, sponsored by Laser Focus World and the Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO), continues to honor the most timely, groundbreaking products in the field of photonics and laser science.

Innovation Award entrants are challenged to show how their application, service, or product (launched in the 18 months between August 23, 2013, and March 2, 2015) met three key criteria, including unique functionality and secure patent position, long life expectancy, and above all, an exceptional level of innovation.

For 2015, three winners were chosen-one for each of the product categories, including Analytical Instruments or Systems, Lasers and Sources, and Optical Components. The awards are presented each year at the CLEO Plenary Session, which for CLEO:2015 is Tuesday, May 12th in San Jose, CA. Information on the Innovation Awards can be found online at


AUREA Technology (Besançon, France)

CATEGORY: Analytical Instruments or Systems

AUREA Technology wins this year in the Analytical Instruments or Systems category for the first all-in-one Time-Correlated Single-Photon-Counting (TCSPC) Analyzer, integrating ultra-high photon-detection efficiency within the 450 to 1700 nm range, high-quality picosecond laser excitation, and novel time-to-digital-converter technologies in a very compact package with an easy-to-use, customer-centric graphical user interface (GUI).

AUREA's TCSPC Analyzer integrates both silicon and InGaAs advanced Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode (Geiger-SPAD) and the best-in-class, high-timing-resolution picosecond pulsed laser (50 ps; 120 MHz repetition rate) and high-timing-resolution picosecond time-to-digital-converter (TDC) technologies within a single small box. The photon detection efficiency can reach up to 80% in the visible and up to 30% in the near-infrared region and the dark count reaches, respectively, down to 25 cps and 1000 cps. The timing resolution of the TDC is also as low as 27 ps. Its fast data processing, fast USB data transmission, and intuitive GUI are compatible with LabVIEW and most programming languages, such C++.

Replacing traditional building-block modules of a laser head, laser control unit, single-photon detector, and a multichannel TDC in a single compact instrument, AUREA's integrated TCSPC unit is five times smaller and 30% less expensive than any other commercial TCSPC system for time-resolved, low-photon-count, fast-event analysis.

Northrop Grumman Cutting Edge Optronics (St. Charles, MO)

CATEGORY: Lasers and Sources

In the Lasers and Sources category, Northrop Grumman Cutting Edge Optronics wins for its innovative Gigashot-HE high-energy, all diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) Nd:YAG laser system with more than 2 J of 532 nm energy in each sub-10 ns pulse at 10 Hz. The laser has a near-field flat-top beam profile and was developed to be a long-lifetime, ultrastable pump source for high-energy Ti:sapphire amplifiers used in terawatt/petawatt high-energy science.

Although high-energy flash-lamp-pumped lasers have been in existence for decades, the Gigashot-HE is the first joule-class, all diode-pumped, commercially available laser in the marketplace. Laser diodes allow for efficient pumping of the Nd:YAG rod, with the diode output wavelength-tailored to match the absorption peak wavelength of the gain medium to drastically reduce the excess waste heat that causes thermal lensing and depolarization losses. Large power supplies with enormous capacitor banks that are typically required to charge flash lamps are replaced with more compact DC power supplies.

High efficiency and ultra-long-life quasi-continuous-wave pump diodes allow the Gigashot-HE laser to operate for over 10 billion shots, equating to 30 years of continuous operation at 10 Hz. Its master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) configuration is scalable to operate at more than 100 Hz; a 4 J, 1064 nm version is also offered as standard.

Inrad Optics (Northvale, NJ)

CATEGORY: Optical Components

By expanding on seminal and proprietary research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and aided by SBIR support from the United States Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), Inrad's success in growing single stilbene crystals as large as a 4 × 4 in. cylinder improves the technological landscape for radiation detection equipment. Applications for stilbene include homeland security, nuclear nonproliferation, and neutron detection at nuclear facilities.

Stilbene has long been known for its excellent properties in neutron detection; however, availability at a reasonable price once limited its widespread use. As a solid-state, non-hazardous material, stilbene solves many problems inherent with liquid scintillators while offering higher performance and lower cost. The commercial availability of these crystals could enable next-generation detection systems to better protect the American public against illicit traffic of weapons of mass destruction.

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