March 2012

FEATURE

Knowledge is power

Whether cutting metal or plastic or providing soft tissue therapy with a laser, knowing the power and energy properties of the beam is all important for good results. Monitoring the laser’s performance at the workstation or remotely, continuously or daily, power meters have an important role to play in process control and quality assurance.

‘You need to know how much power you have, because in marking if you have too much you can damage what you are marking. In cutting, if you don’t have enough [power] you won’t get a good cut,’ explains Ophir’s Jimmy Green.

FEATURE

Shaping light

Diffractive optics operate by diffraction to alter the structure of a laser beam. They have the unique property of being able to shape the incident beam or create patterns of multiple points of light in a desired formation. They can turn the incoming beam of light into shapes and patterns that would otherwise be impossible or, at least, very costly requiring complex integration to achieve with refractive optics.

FEATURE

Fantastic plastic

Organic photonic devices are generally thought of as less efficient and less stable than their conventional inorganic counterparts. But at this year’s Photonics West conference researchers from across the world showed that organic photonic devices have made great strides in recent years and can even outperform conventional devices. Novel approaches to device design include hybrid structures, frequency doubling techniques, indirect electrical pumping and the incorporation of strange and exotic materials.

FEATURE

Understanding ultrafast

Although more than 20 years has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, few appreciate the implications on the scientific community that the collapse of communism had on those east of the Iron Curtain. The restructuring of state-funded science in the months that followed meant that institutions, such as the renowned Academy of Sciences, were being shut down.