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Patent highlights

28 Oct 2003

The pick of this week’s patent applications including an interferometer that uses a VCSEL as a reference source.

•  Title: Extinguishing fires
Applicant: E2V Technologies, UK
International application number: WO 03/086547
Finding and extinguishing a fire quickly could soon become a lot easier thanks to the invention being patented in application WO 03/086547. The idea involves mounting an infrared sensor on to a fire extinguisher. The company says that the addition of an infrared sensor allows, “a user to locate the center of the fire and release the extinguishing material in one operation.”

•  Title: Vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) as an interferometer reference
Applicant: Inlight Solutions, US
International application number: WO 03/088431
A US company has come up with a way to use a VCSEL as a reference source in an interferometer. The inventors say that, in the past, a VCSEL’s poor wavelength stability has ruled it out as a suitable reference source. To overcome this, the company has developed an algorithm to correct the wavelength drift of a VCSEL by adjusting its drive current and temperature.

•  Title: Process for manufacturing a micro-structured optical fiber
Applicant: Pirelli S.P.A, Italy
International application number: WO 03/086738
Pirelli of Italy is patenting a method for making the polymer preforms that are used in the manufacture of microstructured optical fibers. The first step involves making a cylindrical mould with wires, rods or tubes running along its length to generate a pattern of microstructured holes. The mould is then cleaned with a solvent before being filled with a fluid polymer optical material or a polymer precursor. In the final stage, the hole-generating elements are released and the preform is removed from the mould.

•  Title: Systems and methods for spectroscopy of biological tissue
Applicant: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
International application number: WO 03/087793
Patent application WO 03/087793 details a fiber-optic probe that can diagnose coronary artery disease. The probe has a diameter of less than 2 mm and contains a delivery and a collection fiber. The delivery fiber carries light to the tissue. The light passes through a filter at the distal end of the fiber before it interacts with the tissue. The collection fiber gathers Raman-scattered radiation which is then filtered before it is projected on to a detector.

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

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