Gecko's feet, sound shaped light and diode lasers all win Prism awards

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Gecko's feet, sound shaped light and diode lasers were all winners at this year's Prism awards, but Raman spectroscopy technology led the pack with two gongs.

Raman was the winner in two categories, life sciences and biophotonics, and green photonics. Verisante Technology's Aura near infrared Raman spectroscopy was the winner in life sciences and biophotonics. Aura is expected to improve skin cancer detection because its NIR laser allows a non-invasive analysis of the suspect area. Biopsies that are required now may not be needed. According to Verisante the technology also shows promise for lung, cervix and colon cancer.

Under the green photonics category, Raman technology won again with Leosphere's R-MAN510 atmospheric lidar that can detect soot, dust and volcanic ash. The R-MAN510 emits in the 355nm ultraviolet using a diode-pumped tripled Nd:YAG laser.

The green photonics award saw a joint win, with Visualant sharing the prize with Leosphere. Visualant's ChromaID uses spectral pattern matching for its environmental spectroscopy using 36 LEDs, a smartphone Bluetooth interface and a Cloud-computing based database. Using its full-spectrum sensing with structured light, ChromaID can be used on any material, liquid, gas, aerosol or colour, according to Visualant. 

Carbo nanotubes are a unique material that has been promoted as having great promise for some time and for Linden Photonics that promise has delivered the award for the test, measurement, metrology category. Linden's Lindex Optics Cleaners use carbon nanotubes to exploit Van der Waals forces for optics cleaning. These are the same forces that allow a gecko's feet to stick to walls. With Van der Waals forces, oils and other contaminants will stick to the nanotubes at a molecular level. Linden claims a 20 fold improvement in cleaning over cotton and foam-based methods. 

TAG Optics won the optics and optical components category. TAG Optics TAG Lens 2.0 uses sound to shape light allowing focal lengths to be user specified with submicrosecond resolution. Developed at Princeton University, the TAG Lens 2.0 has no moving parts and TAG claims it is orders of magnitude faster than adaptive liquid lenses.

Continuum's Horizon optical parametric oscillator won the scientific lasers award. It has a cavity design and optical configuration that Continuum claims delivers a 40 per cent efficiency improvement.

Not Raman spectroscopy, rather a spectrograph won the detectors, sensing, imaging and cameras category with Princeton Instruments' Isoplane SCT spectrograph. The Isoplane uses proprietary optics to use the full spatial extent of a detector without loss of spectral or spatial resolution.

For Heidelberg Instruments, success came in the manufacturing category, with its direct write lithography process. This can be used without a mask aligner and an image can be written straight on to a substrate. The need to align pattern masks is a time consuming and expensive process, which Heidelberg's system can eliminate. 

For defence and security, OEwaves was the winner. Its micro optoelectronic oscillator is a whispering gallery mode optical microresonator with very low noise designed for radar and signals intelligence systems, possibly to be used by drones as well as other military vehicles. According to OEwaves, the oscillator delivers low phase noise, low vibration and acceleration sensitivity to make it best in its class for high frequency applications. 

The diode laser that won was Teradiode's Terablade. Winning the industrial lasers category, Terablade is said by Teradiode to be four times more efficient than CO2 and at least 33 per cent more efficient than 1µm lasers. Using wavelength beam-combining technology developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, the Terablade combines any number of laser emitters of any type, wavelength or power into a single coherent laser beam. 

The SPIE Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation is an international competition that recognises the best new photonic products on the market. The Prism Awards has received applications from more than 35 countries over the years and applications are always judged by a panel of industry experts and venture capitalists.