March 13, 2006, New York, NY--Advance Nanotech announced a breakthrough in its optics and photonics research at the Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at the University of Cambridge, UK. AVNA-funded researchers have produced their first working prototype of a new ultrashort pulse laser. The AVNA/CAPE laser should be less expensive to manufacture and more flexible than photonic components currently on the market. The new technology could significantly reduce the cost of doing business across industries ranging from telecommunications to medical diagnostics.
The AVNA/CAPE lasers are compact and employ only a tenth of a milligram of carbon nanotube material at a cost of about ten cents per device. According to the company, the device, which produces sub-picosecond pulses, can be quickly and easily plugged into existing laser systems without sophisticated and time-consuming alignments traditionally associated with modifying optics equipment.
"Our component can be inserted into a laser system and immediately produce stable, ultrashort, high-power optical pulses without the need for precise alignment," said Prof. Ian White, head of photonics research at CAPE. "In addition, the intrinsic robustness of our working prototype means that it can be easily moved and shipped without any risk of damage."
In addition to pulsed lasers, nanotubes play a key role in a variety of materials-based research projects ranging from space elevators to artificial muscles to ultrahigh-speed flywheels. Single walled carbon nanotubes can be insulating, semiconducting or metallic depending on growth conditions. This wide range of physical properties enables a plethora of electronic, optical and material applications, including transistors, interconnects in integrated circuits, and components for optical networks. Successful commercialization of carbon nanotube applications, such as the AVNA/CAPE laser, requires robust, manufacturable and inexpensive control of the properties of the nanotubes.
"Since the AVNA/CAPE laser combines the unique optical properties of carbon nanotubes to generate ultrashort pulses in a range of operating wavelengths, with the mechanical and structural strength of nanotubes to handle high optical powers and energies, we expect to find wide-spread application in optics and laser technology," said Peter Gammel, senior vice president, electronics at Advance Nanotech. "We expect that the compact and robust demonstrator fabricated by AVNA's scientists in Cambridge is only the first of a long series of increasingly sophisticated and high-performance devices."
The investment in the ultrashort laser project was made in partnership with CAPE, the Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, at the Department of Engineering of the University of Cambridge. CAPE is an integrated research facility for electrical engineering with a staff of 20 academics, 70 post-doctoral researchers and 170 research students. CAPE is funded by Advance Nanotech, Alps Electric Company Limited, Dow Corning Corporation and Marconi Corporation plc. In the past five years numerous patents have been filed and ten spin-out companies have been formed from projects that began in the Electrical Division within Cambridge's Department of Engineering.
Advance Nanotech is currently funding 27 portfolio companies in the electronics, biopharma and materials industries. The firm provides services ranging from funding to human capital and research equipment essential to ensuring that the most promising companies can accelerate the path to rapid commercialization.