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Patent highlights

30 Sep 2003

The pick of this week’s patent applications including a free-space optical communication system.

•  Title: Method of establishing communication through free space between a pair of optical communications devices
Applicant: Canadian Space Agency, Canada
International application number: WO 03/079582
Patent application WO 03/079582 discusses a free-space optical communication system. To establish a link, two communication devices fire a divergent beam at each other. A portion of the received signal is then used to create a phase-conjugated beam, which is returned to the other device. “A diffraction grating is dynamically recorded at each device so as to establish a bi-directional self-tracking optical link,” say the application’s authors.

•  Title: Portable apparatus for self-checking female breasts or testicular tissues
Applicant: Highland Innovation Centre Limited, UK
International application number: WO 03/077744
A compact device that recognises changes in the optical properties of breast tissue is detailed in patent application WO 03/077744. The inventors say that their system is not a diagnostic tool but does flag up when a woman should seek medical advice. The device also emits a sound if there is increased blood flow to the suspicious area, which could be a sign of malignancy. “Ideally the device is used by the subject’s husband or partner so that both parties recognise normal images and sounds,” add the authors.

•  Title: UV photosensitive melted glass
Applicant: Corning, US
International application number: WO 03/078342
US firm Corning is trying to patent bulk glass that is photosensitive to ultraviolet wavelengths below 300 nm. The patent specifically refers to batch meltable alkali boro-alumino-silicate and germanosilicate glasses. Using a laser emitting below 300 nm, the firm says it is possible to change the refractive index of the glass and build devices that exploit such changes.

•  Title: High resolution spectral measurement device
Applicant: Cymer, US
International application number: WO 03/078940
Patent application WO 03/078940 details a high-resolution spectral measurement device. Relying on a complex chain of optics, the authors say the device uses an extremely narrow slit function in the ultraviolet range and is useful for measuring the bandwidth of narrowband excimer lasers used in integrated-circuit lithography.

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

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