Laser Industry Report

DARPA funds new photonics center; Palomar, Lumenis resolve patent litigation; Spire to develop terahertz laser technology; MORE...

DARPA funds new photonics center

The University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, IL) has received a $6.2 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create a photonic research center to develop ultrafast light sources for high-speed signal processing and optical communications systems. The University of Illinois is the lead university for the center. Partner institutions are Columbia University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Harvard University.

"The Hyper-Uniform Nanophotonic Technology Center's mission is to develop critical technologies—including hyper-uniform nanophotonic fabrication methods, high-performance quantum-dot arrays, and ultrafast lasers—for optoelectronic interconnects," said Norman K.Y. Cheng, director of the center.

A primary focus of the center is to improve laser technology that is now feasible because of the ultrafast light-emitting transistor recently discovered by center researchers Milton Feng and Nick Holonyak Jr. The light-emitting transistor can modulate electrical and optical signals simultaneously, and could extend the modulation bandwidth of a semiconductor light source from 20 GHz to more than 100 GHz.

Palomar, Lumenis resolve patent litigation

Medical-laser manufacturers Palomar Medical Technologies (Burlington, MA) and Lumenis (Yokneam, Israel) have agreed to a settlement resolving their ongoing litigation regarding patent and contractual matters. The terms of the settlement provide that Lumenis will pay $4.09 million over the next six quarters for royalties due on sales of the LightSheer Diode Laser System manufactured between July 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2003. From January 1, 2004, Lumenis will pay Palomar a 5% royalty on sales of the LightSheer and other professional laser hair-removal devices.

Palomar had maintained that the LightSheer Diode Laser System, a product initially developed by Palomar and now marketed by Lumenis, and various Lumenis IPL systems infringed claims in two U.S. patents (5,595,568 and 5,735,844). Palomar has an exclusive license to these patents from the General Hospital Corporation (Boston, MA). Pursuant to the settlement, the parties will dismiss with prejudice the federal action in the Northern District of California as well as the state court action in Massachusetts.

Other terms of the settlement include Lumenis granting Palomar a paid-up license to a variety of Lumenis' patents for Palomar's light-based devices. In addition, Palomar granted Lumenis a paid-up license to the '568 and '844 patents for Lumenis' lamp-based devices.

Spire to develop terahertz laser technology

Spire (Bedford, MA) is developing nano-engineered gallium arsenide layers for fabrication of miniature terahertz lasers under an AFOSR-funded, $99,000 Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project. Spire's compact terahertz-radiation source has broad application to instruments for defense against terrorism, biological-agent detection, DNA-structure identification, and a number of medical diagnostics. Demonstrated success on this Phase I program can lead to a Phase II program of as much as $500,000.

The project involves the design of a new, gallium arsenide–based nano-engineered epitaxial-wafer structure that can be cost-effectively produced in large quantities. Epitaxial wafers based on a new design, carried out in collaboration with Shun-Lien Chuang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are being produced in Spire's wholly owned subsidiary, Bandwidth Semiconductor.

This Phase I contract is expected to result in a demonstration of growth feasibility. Bandwidth plans to offer such wafers for commercial sale. Spire also expects to receive complementary terahertz-development support from the Army and DARPA.

Also in the news . . .

High Power Devices (HPD; North Brunswick, NJ), a manufacturer of high-power IR and visible-laser diodes and laser-diode systems, has been qualified for registration to ISO 9001:2000 as of June 1, 2004 by SGS certification services. . . . WaveLight Laser Technologie (Erlangen, Germany) has established a new subsidiary in Spain after taking a majority interest in the Spanish company Tetramedic S.A., which will now operate under the name of WaveLight S.A. The company will be managed by Eckhard Rohr, a founding member of Tetramedic. Tetramedic sells medical technology for ophthalmic applications. . . . The United States Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 6,746,473 to Erchonia Medical (Mesa, AZ), covering all hand-held laser devices with more than one laser. This patent enables Erchonia Medical to offer the only patented, handheld, true multilaser (not multi-LED) devices for applications such as low-level laser therapy.

More in Research