Thorlabs to acquire Cirtemo for its MOE spectral filter expertise

May 3, 2019
The acquisition includes multivariate optical elements for spectroscopy and nanopatterning tools known as MagAssemble.

Thorlabs (Newton, NJ) entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Cirtemo (Columbia, SC). The acquisition includes two unique technologies: multivariate optical elements for spectroscopic chemical analysis and nanopatterning tools known as MagAssemble that were originally developed by MagAssemble and are used to "3D print" photolithography masks using nanoparticles. MagAssemble was recently consolidated with Cirtemo.

Cirtemo's multivariate optical elements (MOEs) are wide-band optical spectral filters capable of detecting complex chemical signatures using a simplified optical instrument, effectively replacing a dispersive spectrometer with a compact instrument that uses a single-element detector. Although MOEs are fabricated using the same techniques as traditional optical bandpass filters, Cirtemo's wide-band optical interference filters are capable of sampling more spectral wavelengths than discrete bandpass filters. By doing so, MOEs provide a higher level of sensitivity and specificity for real-time chemical detection of powders, liquids, slurries, and gases with transmission signatures in the 250 nm to 14 µm range.

With the use of MOEs, Thorlabs says that spectroscopic optical systems can be smaller, lighter, and subjected to harsher environments than traditional optical systems, all while achieving the same analyte detection capabilities of laboratory grade optical spectrometers.

The compact, MOE-enabled filter photometer configuration, achieved by combining multiple MOEs with a single system, is particularly advantageous for in-line process monitoring on the factory floor, point-of-care clinical use, and incorporation into field-based instruments. Using multiple MOEs, a focal plane array can be leveraged to create a real-time hyperspectral imager that can be employed to detect hazardous chemicals, explosive materials, and biological samples.

Cirtemo's MagAssemble technology provides a low-cost and higher throughput alternative to the traditional microlithography techniques used to produce 2D patterned structures. Taking advantage of the 50+ years of research and development that has gone into the advancement of hard disk drive technology, Cirtemo's patented Pattern Transfer Nanomanufacturing [trademarked] (PTNM) platform can be used to create customized photolithographic masks with features as small as a few nanometers. The masks are "printed" by fusing ferrous nanoparticles (measuring around 30 nm in diameter) that are organized into various unique nanometer- to micron-scale patterns. These patterns vary from simple lines to complex mixtures of lines, dots, circles, and polygons that can be etched into a range of flat or curved substrates.

Among other things, the PTNM process is ideal for producing custom diffractive optical elements for use in the UV to IR spectral range. It can be applied to numerous substrate materials, including polymers, silicon wafers, fused silica, sapphire, and even optical fibers, thus creating laser quality, robust, miniaturized optical components.

The Cirtemo team will remain in South Carolina, form a division called Thorlabs Spectral Works (TSW), and operate as an R&D facility reporting to Thorlabs' Optics Business Unit in Newton, NJ.

SOURCE: Thorlabs;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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