Laser Focus World announces 2018 Innovators Awards

May 1, 2018
For the first time, Laser Focus World has held its Innovators Awards program, which celebrates the disparate and innovative technologies, products, and systems found in the photonics market.

For the first time, Laser Focus World has held its Innovators Awards program, which celebrates the disparate and innovative technologies, products, and systems found in the photonics market.

Based on the impartial ratings by our judges, awards were assigned in four different levels—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—to companies or organizations that demonstrated excellence in a product or technology, an application, or in research and development.

Submissions were judged on originality; innovation; their impact on designers, systems integrators, or users; and whether they fulfilled a new market need, leveraged a novel technology, and/or increased productivity.

To celebrate our Innovators Awards Program, Laser Focus World held a webcast ceremony on May 10, 2018, for all honorees, and presented awards in person during CLEO.

Here, in their own words, the 2018 group of honorees provides a look at where we stand today on the leading edge of photonics products and applications.

2018 Innovators Awards: Bronze-level honorees

Access Laser Company (Everett, WA; To power the shift towards conservative dentistry, a new laser was needed. Providing the quickest pulses of any sealed CO2 laser on the market, Access Laser’s DL-500 fulfills each parameter determined by 25 years of academic research. To help usher in the global healthcare trend of preventative medicine, the DL-500 is designed to permit a crystallographic change of the enamel by increasing the spot size and lowering the fluence of the beam.

Laser Tech S.A. DE C.V.(Aguascalientes, Mexico; for 2D and 3D Metal Processing with Fiber Laser and Plasma. This system is unique because it is the only one in the market that includes three processes in one machine, and can process metals in two and three dimensions. The System for 2D and 3D metal processing with fiber laser and plasma includes CNC for cutting metal plates with a fiber laser and plasma, and a robot arm for cutting and welding metals with a fiber laser.

Photonics Industries International(Ronkonkoma, NY; laser. The DSH-355-40 UV nanosecond laser typically provides <1% P-P stability with typical beam quality of M2 <1.1 and with the lowest COO in the market. Its all-in-one (AIO) compact, industry-grade single-box design is the smallest footprint with the lowest power consumption. The AIO single-box design simplifies installation by removing the need to manage a separate controller/power supply box and umbilical cable—not only yielding space savings, but also better reliability. Eliminating the driver and umbilical, the DSH-355-40 can be vertically mounted on a gantry for robotic applications.

2018 Innovators Awards: Silver-level honorees

ADIRA Metal-Forming Solutions S.A. (Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal; AddCreator. The new AddCreator system marks the first step on the establishment of ADIRA’s commercial line of industrial additive manufacturing systems, advancing the modular chamber concept first introduced by the company in 2016. This new system pushes the dimensional boundary even further, presenting the user with a scalable working volume of 0.5 cubic meters and a 1 × 1 m working area.

Advanced Fiber Resources(Zhuhai, China; Technology. SteadiBeam technology provided a solution to a long-existing thermal lensing issue in the high-power laser industry. It is the only technology that has been demonstrated and applied to commercial products at minimal increased cost. Products with the technology provide significantly improved stable-beam quality and, therefore, better material processing results.

AFL(Duncan, SC; LZM-110A+ LAZERMaster. The LZM-110A+ LAZERMaster is a splicing, glass processing, and fiber ablation machine that uses a CO2 laser heat source to perform splicing, tapering (to create MFAs), lensing, ablation (for cleaving and mode stripping), or other glass-shaping operations with glass diameters up to 2.3 mm. The high-resolution optical analysis system works in conjunction with onboard firmware for fully automatic splicing, tapering, and other glass shaping processes.

Akamai Physics(Las Cruces, NM; Agile Multispectral Mid-Infrared (Mid-IR) Lidar for Remote Complex Detection and Identification. Most existing DIAL systems typically only provide data returns based on two probe wavelengths. This wavelength-tunable, multispectral, mid-IR lidar system scans a large range of mid-IR wavelengths to precisely identify the chemical signature of a remote plume. The large set of data returns with multiple wavelength absorption data allows the AI-enhanced identification processing system to determine what chemicals mixtures or discreet chemicals may be present in a target plume.

B&W Tek(Newark, DE; Using B&W Tek’s see-through technology, the STRaman dramatically enhances the Raman signature at greater penetration depths, allowing for identification of materials inside visually opaque containers. The large sampling area significantly improves analysis reproducibility for heterogeneous samples, and the minimized power density facilitates the measurement of darker materials that would be susceptible to photodamage under conventional Raman spectroscopy.

Gamma Scientific(San Diego, CA; SpectralLED Tunable Light Source. The SpectralLED tunable light sources incorporate up to 35 discrete wavelengths for synthesis of commercially available light sources or based on spectra that is imported by the user. The platform is easily adaptable for automated test systems and production line integration, with integrated optical feedback and temperature control to ensure solid stability and consistent results.

Horiba Scientific(Piscataway, NJ; Fluorescence and Absorbance Spectrometer. Duetta advances beyond larger, slower, time-consuming, multi-step scanning fluorometers by combining fluorescence with absorbance in a compact instrument, making it a breakthrough in the field of fluorescence spectroscopy. Duetta is the only spectrofluorometer in its class that provides UV-Vis-NIR fluorescence and absorbance in one instrument.

OEwaves(Pasadena, CA; Phase/RIN Noise & Linewidth Analyzer. The Laser Phase & Relative Intensity Noise (RIN) Measurement System is based on an all-optical homodyne architecture. It enables fast and cost-effective phase/frequency and RIN noise measurements for continuous-wave (CW) lasers. These measurements are made directly without any reference source and the system converts the measured phase noise to frequency noise and linewidth. The Laser Phase & Relative Intensity Noise (RIN) Measurement System can characterize the noise of a wide range of single-mode and ultra-narrow linewidth lasers, eliminating complex and tedious measurement setups.

OFS(Somerset, NJ; Laser and Very-Large-Mode Area (VLMA) Er-doped fiber amplifier. The OFS Raman Laser and Very-Large-Mode Area (VLMA) Er-doped fiber amplifier is a suite of optical modules designed to provide previously unavailable performance from Er-doped fiber amplifiers in the 1550 nm wavelength range. The amplifier is pumped by an OFS-supplied Raman fiber laser, delivering as much as 200 W of optical power in a single-mode fiber at 1480 nm. The modules are designed to be integrated into other laser manufacturers’ systems, and enable rapid development of custom solutions for high-performance, turnkey laser systems.

Olympus(Waltham, MA; OLS5000. The OLS5000 is ideal for research and development, as well as quality control inspection in industries including automotive manufacturing, metal processing, additive manufacturing, and electric component and semiconductor manufacturing. Olympus is looking forward to more usage and applications of this new microscope across different industries to reach new levels in product performance, operation efficiency, and productivity.

Osram Opto Semiconductors(Sunnyvale, CA; Black Flat SFH 4735. The OSLON Black Flat SFH 4735 LED is the world’s first broadband infrared (IR) LED. It emits IR light in wavelengths ranging from 650 to 1050 nm. It is ideal for near-IR spectroscopy, which can be used to assess food, medicine, and even measure body fat. The SFH 4735 created a whole new field of compact, robust, and low-cost sensing technology that did not exist before, making it possible to integrate spectrometers directly into mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Osram Opto Semiconductors(Sunnyvale, CA; 488 nm Cyan Laser Diode. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors’ PLT5 488nm Cyan Laser Diode is creating new opportunities and applications in the biomedical industry. 488 nm is one of the most popular wavelengths for biomedical diagnostic tools, including flow cytometry and DNA-related diagnosis because many phosphorescent markers are excited at 488 nm.

Photometrics(Tucson, AZ; 15 Scientific CMOS camera. The Iris 15 Scientific CMOS camera is designed with a large field of view for live-cell microscopy applications. Its 15 Mpixel sensor and 25 mm field of view provide extremely high-resolution images over a large imaging area. With its high resolution at video-rate acquisition speeds, dynamic cellular events are properly captured and documented.

Power Technology(Alexander, AR; Laser System. The greatest challenge currently facing projector manufacturers is delivering more brightness on the screen at an economical price. The limitations of xenon bulbs have contributed to the decay of audience attendance and screen size growth. With 20X the lifespan of bulbs, the Illumina Cinema Laser System eliminates the continual bulb replacement expenses while maintaining 80% of original brightness over 10 years. This saves thousands of dollars over a projector’s lifetime, while providing brighter and more engaging experiences to a greater number of ticket-buying customers.

Zemax(Kirkland, WA; Optimization in OpticStudio. Contrast Optimization is a capability in Zemax OpticStudio version 17 and later that speeds modulation-transfer-function (MTF) optimization by a factor of 10, and sometimes much more. It provides a fast estimate of the MTF by targeting the best MTF response at desired spatial frequencies directly, instead of calculating the full MTF. It is based on a simple calculation of the wavefront difference between two rays in the exit pupil of an optical system.

2018 Innovators Awards: Gold-level honorees

Äpre Instruments(Tucson, AZ; – Spectrally Controlled Interferometry. With Spectrally Controlled Interferometry (SCI), electronically control the source coherence for fast setup in the “laser” mode, and then switch to “white-light” mode to isolate the surface to measure, down to 50 μm optical thickness. No more multiple-surface interference that prohibits measurement. SCI is also applicable to any Fizeau interferometer by changing the light source from the laser to the SCI source.

Class 5 Photonics(Hamburg, Germany; – Supernova OPCPA. Supernova OPCPA covers pulse durations down to 15 fs, wavelength regimes from 0.4 to 3.0 μm, and average power beyond 100 W. Based on modular optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifier (OPCPA) design, it reduces footprint and complexity while achieving maximum long-term stability at an affordable price. The one-box solution White Dwarf OPCPA has demonstrated 40 hours of uninterrupted operation, even below 9 fs pulse duration, generated by its innovative White Light Generation (WLG) source.

DGShape(Irvine, CA; – LD-80 Laser Decorator. The DGSHAPE LD-80 laser foil decorator is the world’s first metallic foil transferring device using a semiconductor laser for on-demand foil decoration. The product uses a proprietary method for converting light into heat, which activates adhesives on metallic foil films to decorate soft plastic items such as cosmetics, office supplies, and custom gifts with personalized text and logos. In the traditional hot-foil stamping process, most soft plastic items can be destroyed by the heat and pressure of traditional methods. The LD-80 allows for very detailed embellishments on high-quality items at a very low running cost.

Gamma Scientific(San Diego, CA; – GS-1290 NED Near-Eye Display Test System. Gamma Scientific offers the world’s first precision instrument for characterizing the Qualified Viewing Space of near-eye displays. The GS-1290 NED delivers high spatial resolution color and contrast measurements for devices such as virtual and augmented reality and head-up displays as viewed by the human eye. The system employs an integrated autocollimator camera viewing system and high-accuracy 0.1°–5° degree spot spectroradiometer, and delivers output data including luminance, color, contrast, uniformity, spectral transmittance, response time, flicker, MTF, and left/right eye parallax error.

HindSight Imaging(Brookline, MA; – ChemVuR. Hindsight Imaging’s ChemVuR is a compact handheld Raman Trace Chemical Detection and Imaging System. ChemVuR’s biggest impact will be on the end user, with substantial benefit for integrators and designers. The end user will achieve maximum performance per unit cost/size/weight. Hindsight’s HTVS technology outperforms custom research solutions based on conventional spectrometer technology, in applications where both high resolution and high sensitivity are required.

Lumentum(Milpitas, CA; – AccuTrig. AccuTrig, a new feature for the Lumentum PicoBlade 2, allows arbitrary, on-demand external triggering of ultrafast micromachining lasers to boost productivity, increase quality, and improve bottom line by maximizing material removal (i.e., improving ablation efficiency), while minimizing heat-affected zone (HAZ).

Photometrics(Tucson, AZ; –Prime BSI Scientific CMOS Camera. Prime BSI delivers the balance between high-resolution imaging and sensitivity because it uses an optimized pixel design for 60x imaging with 95% quantum efficiency to maximize signal detection. This 4.2Mpixel camera with 6.5 μm pixels captures highly detailed images with superior quality while acquiring data at high frame rates. This ensures that all data are collected and no event goes undetected. Prime BSI is a versatile camera for live cell techniques, including total Internal reflection fluorescence, ratiometric imaging, and light-sheet microscopy.

Princeton Instruments(Acton, MA; – BLAZE CCD Cameras for Spectroscopy. BLAZE incorporates two new spectroscopy sensors, making it the ideal spectroscopy camera. HR-Sensors are super deep-depletion devices offering the highest near-IR quantum efficiency of any spectroscopic CCD. LD-Sensors are deep-depletion devices designed for extremely low dark current, allowing long exposures in demanding spectroscopic applications. Key applications include Raman spectroscopy, photoluminescence, nanoparticle research, carbon nanotube studies, pump-probe experiments, fluorescence, and micro-spectroscopy.

Prisma Photonics(Tel Aviv, Israel; – PrismaSense. Prisma Photonics is developing a next-generation fiber sensing solution for smart infrastructure; for example, optical networks, highways, railroads, power lines, pipelines, and perimeters. It is a long-range sensor (up to 100 km) that aims to solve the three major challenges that fiber sensing technology is facing: significantly reducing the false-alarm-rate, enabling high-quality target classification (was it a vehicle, pedestrian, or animal?) and, in doing so, using the existing infrastructure of standard buried telecom fibers and not dedicated sensing fibers, or optimally coupled fibers.

Radiant Vision Systems (Redmond, WA; – AR/VR Lens for Near-Eye Display Testing. Radiant Vision Systems’ wide field-of-view (WFOV) lens is specially engineered for measuring near-eye displays (NEDs), such as those integrated into AR/VR headsets. The lens design simulates the average size, position, and field of view (FOV) of the human eye.

Si-Ware Systems(Cairo, Egypt; – NeoSpectra Micro. NeoSpectra Micro is a chip-sized, self-contained, near-infrared (near-IR) spectral sensor. It delivers the spectral response of the light absorbed by materials for quantification, qualification, or identification, and brings the power of near-IR spectroscopy to consumer applications. It is designed to be used in different systems as an OEM module for applications that can be enabled by the 1250–2500 nm spectral range.

SLD Laser(Goleta, CA; – LaserLight SMD. LaserLight SMD is the first high luminance, white laser light emitter packaged in a compact 7 mm surface-mount device (SMD). Featuring 500 lumens and more than 1000 Mcd/m2, LaserLight SMD enables ultra-long throw distances, narrow beam angles, and small optic sizes for specialty lighting applications.

Specim, Spectral Imaging(Oulu, Finland; – Specim IQ. Specim IQ is the first mobile hyperspectral camera that allows analysis of samples anywhere, in seconds, for critical decision-making. The camera is suited to the needs of OEM industries in food safety, healthcare, art inspection, agriculture, and forestry, and in many other areas for building and commercialization of applications for a company’s clientele.

Spectrolight(Irvine, CA; – Flexible Wavelength Selector. The Flexible Wavelength Selector (FWS) combines the wavelength tunability and adjustable bandwidth of a traditional monochromator with the circular uniform aperture of a bandpass filter. FWS products employ Spectrolight’s TwinFilm Technology—a next-generation approach to wavelength filtering and scanning.

Sutter Instrument(Novato, CA; – Lambda OBC Optical Beam Combiner. The Lambda OBC is a high-throughput beam combiner that allows simultaneous or sequential use of multiple light sources, and eliminates the need for traditional dichroic ladders. This unique and flexible design allows users to swap individual light input channels without concern for order. Because the beam does not pass through each successive filter, there are gains in total light output. With 4–7 possible input ports, the Lambda OBC pentagon forms the basis of several new high-speed wavelength switchers that can utilize LEDs, lasers, or traditional arc-lamp sources.

2018 Innovators Awards: Platinum-level honorees

General Motors(Shanghai, China; – Direct Laser Welding of Zinc Coated Steels without Dimpling Process. The new laser welding technique provides 3–5X faster welding speed and 30–50% less energy consumption, plus it requires 50% less floor space than RSW and conventional regular or remote laser welding process with the dimpling process. By avoiding the use of the dimpling process, reducing floor space use, and improving the productivity, major capital investment has been avoided and manufacturing costs have been reduced.

KMLabs(Boulder, CO; – RAEA. In comparison to competitor one-box ultrafast Ti:sapphire laser systems, the RAEA generates exceptionally short pulses with excellent pulse quality (<25 fs, M2 <1.3) with nearly 4X the average power of past systems. Employing KMLabs’ Permacool technology, the RAEA uses a long-life sealed cryogenic system that addresses past limitations of cryocooling technology, allowing the RAEA to produce unprecedentedaverage power with exceptional stability in the lab, as well as the ability to operate 24/7 for long periods without maintenance for industrial metrology applications.

Nuburu(Centennial, CO; – AO-150 High Power Blue Laser. The Nuburu AO-150 high-power blue laser enables a 3–10X increase in speed for processing metals compared to infrared lasers (1 μm). Blue also offers major improvements in other process metrics, and Blue unlocks capabilities not previously possible using infrared lasers, including welding, cutting, brazing, and all forms of additive manufacturing. Applications include manufacturing in energy, aerospace, automotive, electronics, and lithium battery domains.

Ophir(North Logan, UT; – BeamWatch AM. Ophir BeamWatch AM is the first non-contact laser beam monitoring system for additive manufacturing. It is a lightweight, compact system designed for real-time measurement of focal shift during laser startup of powder-bed fusion manufacturing processes. It measures key beam size, position, and quality parameters, including focus spot size and beam caustic. These measurements allow users to more easily determine when the beam is aligned and in focus, providing more consistent metallurgy. Measurements can be displayed as tabular, 2D, and 3D views, providing a quick and realistic display of laser characteristics.

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