Ultrafast laser recognised by Institute of Physics

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A laser system that allows doctors and biologists to take quick and accurate biomedical images has received an Innovation Award from the UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP). The award was presented to Coherent Scotland Ltd, based in Glasgow, by the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable on 6 November.

The award recognised the company’s development of the Chameleon laser system. An ultrafast Ti:Sapphire laser, Chameleon is used for multi-photon microscopy, which has helped in research into degenerative diseases and other areas of medicine. Researchers no longer need to have expertise in operating a laser. Older technology required a physicist to be present in order to operate and maintain the laser. Chameleon, in contrast is an automated, ‘hands-off’ system so biologists can concentrate on their research without having to worry about operating the laser.

The IOP Innovation Awards recognise UK companies’ commercial achievements through the application of physics. The award was presented for the company’s growth due to the Chameleon technology. Speaking to Electro Optics about the company’s many links with local universities, Chris Dorman, general manager of Coherent Scotland Ltd, said: ‘We exist because of those physicists coming out of the universities and we are using that to make some of the most innovative laser products in the industry.’

Coherent’s manufacturing facility in Scotland has a staff of more than 100 people, four times the number of employees in 2000, with 22 of those being qualified to PhD level. The Glasgow-based manufacturing centre is creating jobs in local areas for physicists.