The annual PhAST/Laser Focus World Innovation Award honors groundbreaking photonics products. It is sponsored by Laser Focus World and PhAST, the Photonics Applications, Systems & Technologies program that is an integral part of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), which was held from May 31 to June 5 in Baltimore, MD.
To be considered for the award, entrants described how their technology, application, service, or product (launched between February 2008 and February 2009) meets criteria that include impact on the photonics industry, overall functionality, long life expectancy, secure patent protection, and above all, an exceptional level of innovation. In addition to the award-winning entry, four companies received honorable mentions. The award was presented on June 2 at the CLEO Plenary session. For more information on the award, visit www.phastconference.org/innovation.
Innovation Award Winner
BioPhotonic Solutions (East Lansing, MI)
The 2009 PhAST/LFW Innovation Award winner was BioPhotonic Solutions for femtoFit–a low-cost, compact, commercial pulse shaper that unlocks the power of ultrafast lasers for industrial, scientific, medical, and defense applications. The femtoFit product is a miniature pulse shaper that uses proven multiphoton intrapulse interference-phase-scan (MIIPS) technology to compress ultrafast laser pulses at their target; however, femtoFit is roughly one-third the price, twice as fast during automated pulse characterization, and 1/10th the volume of first-generation MIIPS systems. By automatically measuring high-order dispersion and precompensating ultrafast pulses so they arrive transform-limited to the material being analyzed or processed, researchers and technologists can reduce ultrafast laser optimization times to 20 seconds, rather than two or more hours, accelerating the migration of ultrafast technology from the laboratory into production environments and enabling the shortest pulses.
IPG Photonics (Oxford, MA)
The YLS-5000-SM, 5 kW Single-Mode Industrial Fiber Laser is a turnkey production fiber laser with near-perfect beam quality for precise materials and microelectronics processing. In addition to applications such as assist-free remote cutting and remote welding in the automotive, aerospace, and shipbuilding industries, the 5 kW fiber laser’s high power and rugged package can also be used for tactical applications in directed-energy markets.
Kapteyn-Murnane Laboratories (Boulder, CO)
KM Labs’ XUUS is the first commercial tabletop extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) source that converts ultrafast amplifier systems to the EUV wavelength region for applications in nanoscale science, lithography, 3-D imaging, and molecular dynamics. With wavelengths as short as 13 nm for its coherent, near-diffraction-limited beam, XUUS can be used with millijoule pulses or a modified XUUS can be used to generate 20 to 30 nm light using 20 µJ pulses.
Orbits Lightwave (Pasadena, CA)
The Slow Light Laser Oscillator is an all-fiber traveling-wave laser that uses slow light to achieve extremely narrow linewidth and ultralow noise for coherent communications, sensing, and research. Because the slow-light laser oscillation group velocity is slowed by a factor as large as 100, the slow light linewidth is quenched to millihertz levels, breaking the Schawlow-Townes limit and achieving relative-intensity noise close to shot-noise level.
TOPTICA Photonics (Munich, Germany)
The iChrome is a user-friendly, widely tunable visible fiber laser for fluorophore excitation and other applications in microscopy and spectroscopy. It provides selectable, discrete wavelengths from 488 to 640 nm with lower noise and higher power levels than competing supercontinuum sources, and offers a much more cost-effective and compact package than integrating tens of individual laser sources.