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Patent highlights

27 Feb 2003

The pick of this week's patent applications including a method for making contamination-free laser mirrors.

Title: Safety device limiting closure of a gap
Applicant: Neil De La Coeur, Australia
International application number: WO 03/014502
Have you ever trapped your finger in the gap been a door and its frame? This sort of accident could be a thing of the past thanks to an Australian invention. A sensor at one end of the gap emits an infrared beam, which is reflected by a mirror at the opposite end. If the beam is broken, the sensor activates a plunger that expands into the gap and stops the door closing on the fingers.

Title: A method to obtain contamination free laser mirrors and passivation of these
Applicant: Comlase, Sweden
International application number: WO 03/015229
Users of GaAs-based lasers could soon be benefiting from contamination-free laser mirrors, thanks to a method described in application WO 03/015229. The patent says that crystal mirror facets are cleaved and exposed to an atmosphere containing air, dry air or dry nitrogen ambients. Dry etching in a vacuum removes any oxides and contaminants picked up during this exposure. The authors then grow a native nitride layer on the facets by treating them with nitrogen.

Title: Mid-infrared spectrometer attachment to light microscopes
Applicant: Sensir Technologies, US
International application number: WO 03/014679
This application details a device that directs infrared radiation into the optical path of an infinity-corrected, visible light microscope. The light direction device is a trichroic element, which is designed to be a reflector in the mid-infrared and a beam splitter in the near-infrared region. "The trichroic element in the visible region is either transparent, for observing near infrared radiation from the sample using commercially available video cameras, or a beam splitter for incorporating of a visible light illuminator in the attachment," say the inventors.

Title: Method and apparatus for laser scribing glass sheet substrate coatings
Applicant: First Solar, US
International application number: WO 03/013778
Patent application WO 03/013778 describes how a pulsed near-infrared laser can write patterns in the coatings of glass substrates. The patent claims the laser should have a repetition rate of 50 kHz and emit pulses in excess of 8 nanoseconds. The pulses are directed towards a mirror system, which reflects the beam towards the coating. A galvanometer controls the position of the mirrors. This provides overlapping ablations and scribing speeds of at least 1000 millimeters per second, according to the patent's authors.

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

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