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Patent highlights

09 Jul 2003

The pick of this week's patent applications including a polymer solar cell and a Raman amplifier that uses a microstructured fiber.

•  Title: A polymer gel hybrid solar cell
Applicant: Sony International (Europe) GmbH, Germany
International application number: WO 03/054894
Sony’s German subsidiary is trying to patent a hybrid solar cell that uses a polymer gel electrolyte. Sandwiched between two substrates, the electrolyte also contains dye-sensitised porous titanium dioxide. The authors say their cells have an efficiency of 9.2% for an incident light intensity of 100 mW/cm2 and 14.1% at a reduced intensity of 33 mW/cm2.

•  Title: Raman amplification using a microstructured fiber
Applicant: Pirelli S.P.A, Italy
International application number: WO 03/055017
Patent application WO 03/055017 describes a Raman amplifier that uses a microstructured fiber and a pump laser. The fiber contains a silica-based core and is surrounded by periodic capillaries running along its entire length. “The core of the microstructured fiber further comprises at least one dopant added to the silica, said dopant being suitable for enhancing the Raman effect,” say the authors.

•  Title: Security articles comprising multi-responsive physical colorants
Applicant: Honeywell International Inc, US
International application number: WO 03/054259
Producing counterfeit documents may soon be significantly harder thanks to technology described in patent application WO 03/054259. The patent shows how structures such as fibers and threads can be dispersed in materials and made to respond to various wavelengths of light, including ultraviolet and infrared. “The coloration effects can be highly stable or dependent on specific switching effects linked to thermal exposure, for example,” claim the inventors. They add that this could give advanced levels of security to avoid counterfeiting of objects including banknotes, stock and bond certificates, drivers’ licenses and credit cards.

•  Title: Liquid crystal display device
Applicant: Koninklijke Philips Electronics, the Netherlands
International application number: WO 03/054620
Patent application WO 03/054620 details a liquid-crystal display that is said to have excellent color reproducibility. Crucially, the device contains an indium-tin-oxide common electrode that is between 80 and 100 nm thick. By carefully controlling the properties of the reflecting (pixel) electrode, the authors say that light between is 380 and 480 nm is emitted in addition to visible light. “As a result, a viewer can observe white more purely because of better color reproducibility,” say the authors.

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

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