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Patent highlights

07 Jul 2004

The pick of this week's patent applications including an electro-optic fiber than can be woven into clothing.

•  Title: Electro-optic filament of fiber
Applicant: Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V, the Netherlands
International application number: WO 2004/055576
Philips of the Netherlands is trying to patent an electro-optic fiber which it claims can be woven into fabric. The company also says its fiber could also be used in flexible displays. The fiber contains a core surrounded by a set diameter of polarisable material and an optically transmissive cladding. The core and cladding are conductive and are connected to an electric potential. "The polarisable material exhibits an optical effect such as a color change, change in polarisation or change in reflectivity when subjected to a field or a change in the field," say the inventors.

•  Title: Optical examination method and apparatus particularly useful for real-time discrimination of tumors from normal tissues during surgery
Applicant: Image Enhancement Technologies, LLC, US
International application number: WO 2004/054439
A US firm has come up with a simple optical technique which could help spot cancerous tissue. The idea involves exposing the suspicious region of tissue to alternating short pulses of light from two different sources. Crucially, the authors say that the two light sources should have different spectral contents. By analyzing the light emitted from the tissue in both cases, the authors say they can produce an image of the tissue which highlights cancerous tissue.

•  Title: External cavity laser with dispersion compensation for modehop free tuning
Applicant: New Focus, Inc, US
International application number: WO 2004/054054
An optical design that permits modehop-free tuning in an external cavity laser is the subject of application WO 2004/054054. The design uses a pair of prisms and a wedge or gap filter features to create a optical path length compensator, a wavelength selector and a dispersion compensator. "In order to achieve modehop-free tuning, the laser has a synchronizer for synchronizing the optical path length compensator, the wavelength selector and the dispersion compensator to maintain the light in the selected single longitudinal mode while the wavelength selector tunes the operating wavelength," say the authors.

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

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