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Patent highlights

21 Jan 2003

The pick of this week's hottest patent applications including a light-emitting mattress that helps you fall asleep.

•  Title: Seating and/or reclining furniture and mattress with light-emitting means
Applicant: Thomas GmbH + Co. Technik + Innovation KG, Denmark.
International application number: WO 03/004095
Do you have trouble falling asleep or getting out your bed in the mornings? If so, then the invention in patent application WO 03/004095 could be one to watch out for. The authors claim that light-emitting devices placed in stripes across the mattress provide a stimulus for sleeping and/or waking up. They go on to say that the light-emitting mattress also has therapeutic properties, such as wound healing.

•  Title: Welding unit with miniaturised laser beam
Applicant: Snecma Moteurs, France
International application number: WO 03/004214
Patent application WO 03/004214 describes a welding system based on a miniaturised laser beam. The patent says the advantages of this setup are twofold. First, it allows the system to be used in close proximity to the material being welded. Second, the device can weld zones that are difficult to access without fused metal particles entering the laser and damaging the optical components.

•  Title: Tunable laser control system
Applicant: New Focus, US
International application number: WO 03/005512
New Focus is patenting a system that controls and monitors various laser functions. The US company's control system contains a wavelength-tuning circuit for adjusting and locking the wavelength of an external cavity. The patent says the controller can also include circuitry for monitoring temperature and/or signals from detectors such as photodiodes.

•  Title: Two-dimensional photonic crystal surface-emission laser
Applicant: Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Japan.
International application number: WO 03/005513
Scientists in Japan are patenting a 2D photonic-crystal surface-emitting laser. To achieve the surface emission a 2D photonic crystal, made from media with different refractive indices, is placed close to the active layer. Light is then emitted from the active layer by carrier injection. The active layer contains two separate lattice structures, which the authors say allows it to emit light in a constant polarization direction.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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