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Patent highlights

10 Dec 2003

The pick of this week’s patent applications including a long-distance quantum communication system.

•  Title: Lithography laser with beam delivery and beam pointing control
Applicant: Cymer, Inc, US
International application number: WO 03/100826
Cymer is trying to patent an optical setup that delivers the beam from an ultraviolet gas discharge laser to a lithography machine on a production line. The setup uses two separate discharge chambers. The first chamber is part of a master oscillator that produces a narrow-band seed beam, which is then amplified in the second chamber. According to the authors, this system can produce output pulse energies that are about twice that of comparable single chamber system. “It provides illumination at a lithography system wafer plane which is approximately constant throughout the operating life of the lithography system, despite substantial degradation of optical components,” say the application’s authors.

•  Title: Long-distance quantum communication
Applicant: Magiq Technologies, Inc, US
International application number: WO 03/101013
Patent application WO 03/101013 describes a quantum communication system that allegedly works over long distances, even when there is significant loss along the communication channels. According to Magiq, the system manipulates quantum-correlated atomic ensembles using linear optic components. “The invention relies upon collective rather than single particle excitations in atomic ensembles and results in communication efficiency scaling polynomially with the total length of a communication channel,” say the authors.

•  Title: Smoke detector
Applicant: Kidde IP Holdings Limited, UK
International application number: WO 03/100397
A UK company is trying to patent an instrument that can distinguish between smoke and other particles. The system consists of a spherical chamber containing several holes. The majority of the internal surface of the chamber is reflective, while the remainder absorbs light. A blue and an infrared LED emit light into the chamber. A detector collects the radiation scattered by the reflective surface and analyzes it. According to the authors, the detector can also distinguish between different smoke types, such as white, grey or black smoke.

•  Title: Method and apparatus for testing sleepiness
Applicant: Resmed Limited, Australia
International application number: WO 03/100708
Patent application WO 03/100708 details a system for measuring how sleepy a person is. The device scans the person’s eye using infrared light. According to the authors, the person’s sleepiness is determined by studying the changes in their pupil size with time.

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

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