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Patent highlights

04 Oct 2002

The pick of this week's hottest patent applications in the world of photonics.

•  A laser-based osteoporosis treatment unit invented by a Korean company may soon be providing relief to women with brittle bones. NBM Ltd has filed an international patent application for a system that claims to create bone cells in an osteoporosis inflicted region of the body by exposing the patient to infrared laser light and an ultrasonic wave (WO 02/076552). Allegedly, the treatment activates surrounding bone tissue, rapidly joins fractures and eliminates pain thanks to an anti-inflammatory effect. The system consists of a bed equipped with a number of moveable probes that deliver the ultrasonic wave and infrared beam to the patient's spine and other regions.

•  The University of Utah, US, is trying to patent a spectroscopic system that it claims can rapidly determine the health or stress status of living plants and harvested fruit and vegetables. The invention, outlined in patent application WO 02/077608, uses Raman scattering to determine carotenoid pigment levels in agricultural products prior to harvesting, picking or sorting. The apparatus allegedly also has the ability to analyze other plant components such as chlorophyll, proteins, starches, sugars, vitamins and flavonoids. The inventors say that the hardware may be field-portable and may be mounted on a harvester or sorter.

•  The French Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique (CEA) claims to have invented a high spectral resolution optical spectrometer which has applications in metrology and high-speed telecommunications. The integrated device, outlined in patent application (WO 02/077687) makes use of an optical phase grating, a set of micro-guides, a reflector and a photodetector.

•  Yortech Instruments of Doncaster, UK, is patenting a method for measuring the velocity of a flowing gas by infrared radiation absorption (WO 02/077578). The invention relies on detecting the pattern on infrared absorption at two distinct locations along the direction of the flow. The velocity is derived from the time lapse and known distance between the sensors. According to the inventors, the technique can measure the velocity of gas flows that are particulate-free.

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

AVANTES BVAUREA TECHNOLOGYBoston Electronics CorporationChangchun Jiu Tian  Optoelectric Co.,Ltd.Omicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.ECOPTIK
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