December 2011/January 2012

FEATURE

Splitting headache solved with notch

A simple mirror-coated notch in glass optical fibre could replace more expensive couplers and splitters that have limited wavelength ranges, if a research project’s peripheral development can be commercialised.

There is a need to couple light into or split it out of glass optical fibres, to enable data branching in telecommunications. When transmitting data over long distances, coupling of light into the optical fibre at multiple locations increases the number of pump light sources and the maximum power that can be coupled into the fibre, improving its transmission ability.

FEATURE

Extreme is now mainstream

Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) tends to be associated with lithography for semiconductor chips. But photonics in the extreme ultraviolet has a much more diverse and interesting range of applications than chip lithography. This is, perhaps, just as well because no microchip has yet gone into production using this technology.

FEATURE

Does this scan?

‘Most laser applications began with a fixed laser beam and a positioning stage that moved the part underneath the beam. This is way too slow to be economically viable for most applications,’ says Georg Hofner, chief executive officer at Scanlab, which manufactures laser scanning devices. Those applications where fast means economically viable range from marking to solar power, and scanning can make the difference,.

FEATURE

Getting under your skin

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging technology that is often described as the optical equivalent to ultrasound. While this analogy is broadly correct, it does not convey the fact that OCT can do so much more than ultrasound. While it cannot penetrate as deeply into tissue as ultrasound, it has a higher resolution and can be combined with many other optical techniques to give a vast amount of information.

FEATURE

Flourishing with fibre

SPI Lasers began life as Southampton Photonics Incorporated (hence SPI) back in 2000. It was a spin-out from Southampton University, led by David Payne, director of its renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).