February 2014


Taking the pulse of industry

Last December, scientists from Bosch, Trumpf, Jena University and Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) were awarded the 2013 German Future Prize for their collective effort in transforming the ultrashort-pulse laser into an effective series-production tool.

German President Joachim Gauck presented Jens König of Bosch, Dirk Sutter of Trumpf and Stefan Nolte of Fraunhofer IOF with the award, which honours top scientific work showing a high level of economic potential. The winners received €250,000 in prize money.


Making energy out surpass energy in

Last October the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), which houses the largest laser in the world, achieved an important step towards the commercialisation of fusion energy – for the first time a fuel capsule gave off more energy than was absorbed by the fuel. This isn’t quite the goal of ‘ignition’, whereby the fusion reaction generates as much energy as is put in to the whole system, but it’s getting close.


Food for thought

In the food industry, spectrometers are not just coming out of the laboratory into the processing plant but even into the shops and supermarkets. Miniaturisation and better manufacturing methods have allowed small, robust, and cost-effective instruments to carry out analysis at different stages of food production without having to take samples to a laboratory. One such product, Ocean Optics’ IDRaman Mini, has been named as a finalist for the SPIE Prism Awards 2014, whose winners will be announced at Photonics West in February.


Mirror on semicon

To maintain Gordon Moore’s law – the assumption that the number of transistors that can be packed onto an integrated circuit will double every two years – lithography has to undergo a paradigm shift, away from optical laser light to dramatically shorter wavelengths in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) portion of the spectrum. EUV lithography could reduce the amount of multiple patterning steps needed in today’s microprocessors, which would reduce both the cost and complexity of laying the circuit on the chip.