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Patent highlights

13 May 2004

The pick of this week’s patent applications including high-efficiency solar cells.

•  Title: Dye-sensitised photovoltaic cells, method for the production of said photovoltaic cells and use thereof
Applicant: Creavis Gesellschaft für Technologie und Innovation MBH; Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V., Germany
International application number: WO 2004/038745
Patent application WO 2004/038745 describes the design and production of high-efficiency solar cells. The design includes a catalytic intermediate layer which is fabricated between the photoelectrode and the counter electrode. The layer is made from an electrolyte that contains at least one ionic liquid. When subjected to intense light between 100 and 1000 W/m2, the cells containing the catalytic layer are said to exhibit a visibly higher efficiency compared with those without.

•  Title: Photonic fibers and methods for the production thereof
Applicant: IFG Institut für Gerätebau GmbH; IAP Institut für Angewandte Photonik E.V., Germany
International application number: WO 2004/038466
Two German research institutes are trying to patent their method for making photonic crystal fibers (PCFs). Their PCF contains a central fiber core surrounded by at least six air channels. Crucially, the PCF also contains at least two metallic conductors that run along the central fiber. The authors say their PCFs can be used in devices such as wideband fiber lasers, magnetoresistors and oscillators.

•  Title: Semiconductor white light source
Applicant: Svetlana-Optoelektronika, Russia
International application number: WO 2004/038815
A white light source based on a blue-light-emitting AlInGaN crystal is the subject of patent application WO 2004/038815. The device also uses a yellow-emitting phosphor. “An oxonitride α-sialon material activated with a divalent europium is used to form the phosphor,” say the authors.

•  Title: Tunable optically-pumped semiconductor laser including a polarizing resonator mirror
Applicant: Coherent, Inc, US
International application number: WO 2004/038877
Coherent has applied to patent an optically-pumped semiconductor laser. The device contains a gain structure sandwiched between two mirrors, one of which is a membrane mirror. “The membrane mirror includes a grating having parameters selected such that that mirror has different reflectivities at the laser wavelength in two orthogonally-oriented planes of polarization,” say the authors. The membrane mirror can also be moved along the resonator axis to select the lasing mode.

Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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