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UK photonics companies recognised with Queen's Awards

On the Queen's 90th birthday, several UK photonics companies have won Queen's Awards for Enterprise, recognising a healthy photonics sector in the UK.

Gooch and Housego, M Squared Lasers, Optek Systems, LEW Techniques, Specialised Imaging, and Winbro Group Technologies all received a 2016 Queen’s Award, which honours outstanding achievement in international trade, innovation and sustainable development.

M Squared Lasers, based in Glasgow, won for its achievements in advancing key scientific studies in quantum technology through its laser platform SolsTiS.

SolsTiS is being used in wide-ranging applications from constructing the world’s most accurate clocks, the first demonstration of teleportation of information, creating cameras that can see around corners, conducting antimatter experimentation, and building spacecraft ion-drives.

Other notable projects include collaboration with the UK government’s £120 million national network of Quantum Hubs to explore the properties of quantum mechanics.

Established in 2006, M Squared has achieved an annual average growth of 40 per cent with sales exceeding £10 million.

M Squared Lasers founder and CEO, Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, commented: ‘In the same way digital displaced analogue, quantum technology will be the catalyst for an entirely new generation of applications. Britain is well placed to progress as a world leader in the quantum technology sector. The early adoption and innovation of new scientific applications is a longstanding feature in British culture and we are proud to continue that tradition through our work.’

Gooch and Housego, with sites in Torquay and Ilminster, was recognised for its Fiber-Q product, developed to modify and control fibre laser beams. The small, low-loss device brings acousto-optic modulation to the fibre optic community. It can be incorporated into all-fibre architecture without compromising the key benefits offered by fibre-based systems.

‘The Fiber-Q is our flagship product, showcasing cross-site collaboration on photonics innovation to engineer and manufacture a truly unique product which has transformed fibre laser systems technology,’ Adrian Norman, director of engineering at G&H Torquay, commented.

The Fiber-Q also won an Institute of Physics Award for Innovation in December 2014.

Optek Systems, headquartered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for its LaserCleave technology, which is at the heart of a family of tools designed around optical connector production.

The LaserCleave product is designed for laser termination of optical fibres for telecom and datacom applications. An increase in demand for low cost-cost optical cables for use in a new generation of optical data communication is helping to fuel substantial growth in Optek’s export business - since winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the first time in 2011, its export business has doubled, reflecting significant growth in US and Asian markets. Optical connections in this area are expected to reach tens of billions of units over the coming years.

LEW Techniques, based in Taunton, is a manufacturer of precision components for mounting and interconnect of laser diodes, bars, stacks and photodiodes. It won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade, which recognises growth and commercial success in international business.

The company, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, has grown by 60 per cent over the last three years. The proportion of sales exported has increased to 66 per cent of total sales with major export markets including China, Germany, Malaysia, USA and France.

Among its projects, LEW Techniques worked in collaboration with a US-based visible laser manufacturer to design and supply diode laser carriers for Imax’s laser cinema projectors.

Specialised Imaging was also recognised for its Kirana ultra-high-speed video camera, which can operate at up to five million frames per second, while Winbro Group Technologies won the award for the development of its HSA5 laser ablation system. The HSA5 system integrates post processing, ablation and inspection technologies within a single machine for manufacturing complex shapes in turbine components.

Further information:

Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

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