Laser Industry Report

June 1, 2004
Canada to build femtosecond-laser lab; BTG to license chalcogenide laser technology; Nichia, Sony cross license blue-laser patents; MORE...

Canada to build femtosecond-laser lab

Canada is establishing an international laser center for research and development in fields ranging from earlier breast cancer detection to physics. The Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) laboratory, located at Université du Québec's Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS; Varennes, Quebec) garnered a C$20.95 million (US$15.6 million) investment from the Canada Foundation of Innovation.

At the heart of the lab is a high-power (200-TW peak power, 40-W average power), femtosecond, multibeam Ti:sapphire laser designed to manipulate and probe matter in new ways, particularly in the biomedical field. The first part of the ALLS should be up and running by the end of 2004, with the full system operational by mid-2006.

BTG to license chalcogenide laser technology

BTG (West Conshohocken, PA) is offering for license patented, fundamental chalcogenide semiconductor-laser technology that offers advantages for sensing and laser-ablation applications. The technology package was originally developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA); a commercial prototype is under development at Canada's INO (Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada) and will be available in mid-2004.

According to its developers, the laser's configuration is versatile, both in application flexibility and potential implementation. Unlike currently available lasers in the 2- to 3-µm wavelength range, this laser's properties can be easily adjusted by changing either the doping material or the crystal material. In addition, the technology promises to be a low-cost alternative to other solid-state lasers because it is based on low-cost materials, existing pump sources, and established crystal-growth and fabrication techniques.

Nichia, Sony cross license blue-laser patents

Nichia (Tokyo, Japan) and Sony (Tokyo) have come to an agreement on the cross licensing of blue-violet laser-diode-related patents for optical-disc use. In December 2002, Nichia and Sony began collaborating on the development of blue-violet lasaer diodes as well as building up an environment to share the usage of the related technologies possessed by the two companies in order to accelerate demand for blue-violet laser diodes. Nichia and Sony have also been collaborating on blue-violet laser-diode developments specifically for optical-disc recording and playback.

The cross-licensing agreement will allow use of all related patents on blue-violet laser diodes, with no time limit, for optical-disc recording and playback. Collectively, approximately 800 patent applications have been filed by both companies. The 405-nm laser diode is vital to the Blu-ray disc system, which enables digital recording of high-definition content such as movies in consumer use, as well as in professional XDCAM disc systems.

Industry veteran succumbs to cancer

The photonics industry has lost a good friend and laser evangelist. Arthur Rhea, known to all of his friends, acquaintances, and business partners as Art, passed away on April 20 after a long battle with sarcoma. He was 47. Rhea was actively involved in the lasers and photonics industry since the early 1980s, initially working at Ensign-Bickford Aerospace as a business-development manager. He championed the use of lasers in ordnance applications for more than a decade. He later went on to Spectran, Lucent, and Axsys. He was most recently director of business development at Janos Technologies.

A memorial service was held on April 24. His family has requested that memorial donations be made to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, c/o Dr. George Demetri, Sarcoma Director, 44 Binney St., Boston, MA 02115.

Also in the news . . .

StockerYale (Salem, NH) has received an order from BAE Systems to supply lasers for the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure system. The company is also developing a customized laser for the development of a missile countermeasure system for commercial planes under a contract from the Information & Electronic Warfare Systems (Nashua, NH) business unit of BAE. . . .Furukawa Electric (Tokyo, Japan) has released a 488-nm single-harmonic-generation blue laser suitable for bioinstrumentation and medical equipment. The company says it is leveraging its expertise in optical communications to expand its product portfolio into biomed with optical devices, equipment, and instrumentation. . . . PhotoThera (Carlsbad, CA) has raised $19 million from a group of venture capital investors. Last March the company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell an IR laser device to treat tendonitis.

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