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Patent highlights

08 Oct 2003

The pick of this week’s patent applications includes an analytical system based on breakdown spectroscopy.

•  Title: Fiber-optic laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) sensor for molten material analysis
Applicant: Mississippi State University, US
International application number: WO 03/081287
Scientists in Mississippi detail their analytical technique, which promises to generate critical information on the composition of metals as they are being manufactured, in patent application WO 03/081287. The breakdown spectroscopy method involves firing laser pulses into molten material via an optical fiber. This generates a plasma in the material, with optical emissions characteristic of the elements present. The technique can thus be used for on-line monitoring of the various components of metals such as stainless steel.

•  Title: Tunable laser
Applicant: Bookham Technology, UK
International application number: WO 03/081733
Bookham Technology is looking to patent a new tunable semiconductor laser design. The device is based on a waveguide incorporating quantum dots, while the tunability arises from an unspecified semiconductor material that uses the electro-optic effect to change its refractive index under an applied field.

•  Title: Optical broadband element and process for its production
Applicant: Carl Zeiss SMT, Germany
International application number: WO 03/081187
Optics specialist Carl Zeiss has invented a method of manufacturing broad bandwidth optical elements for use with extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light sources. The optics, which operate from the ultraviolet down to the hard X-ray range of wavelengths, are made from molybdenum and silicon layers. They are optimized by carefully controlling the thickness of each layer.

•  Title: Artificial star generation apparatus and method for reflective, refractive and catadioptric telescope systems
Applicant: Lasermax, US
International application number: WO 03/081314
Lasermax has come up with an idea for creating artificial guide stars that help improve the performance of ground-based telescopes. The described technique uses a light source and a hologram to generate collimated laser beams that enter the front aperture of the telescope. When viewed from the telescope the beams appear as artificial stars.

•  Title: Method and devices for accelerating the conversion of a corpse into ashes or dust
Applicant: Hans-Jakob Peters, Germany
International application number: WO 03/081138
The title says it all. According to Hans-Jakob Peters you simply take one corpse, replace all of its blood with fuel, put it in the deep-freeze and exert mechanical pressure. Then fire a laser at it and the corpse turns to dust ‘in seconds’. What will they think of next?

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