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Patent highlights

23 Sep 2004

The pick of this week's patent applications including a compact pulsed gas laser.

•  Title: Methods and systems for providing coherent radiation
Applicant: Macquarie University, Australia
International application number: WO 2004/070875
Scientists at Australia's Macquarie University say they have simplified the design of pulsed gas lasers. In patent application WO 2004/070875, the inventors claim that capacitively-coupled discharge excitation coupled with a slow switching waveform overcomes the need for fast high-voltage switching components to generate fast excitation pulses. The design uses a discharge vessel made from a dielectric material. This holds the gaseous medium, two reflectors which form the cavity and two electrodes. One electrode is coupled to a voltage pulse generator, which generates an excitation voltage of greater than 20 microseconds and causes a population inversion in the gas.

•  Title: Organic light-emitting diode
Applicant: Dow Corning Corporation, US
International application number: WO 2004/079781
The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) unveiled in application number WO 2004/079781 is said to have very low permeability to both water vapour and oxygen. In addition, the applicants from Dow Corning say their invention exhibits good resistance to abrasion and organic solvents. "Displays containing the OLED have numerous advantages including thin form, low power consumption, wide viewing angle, lightweight and minimal size," say the applicants. "The displays can be fabricated on a wide variety of flexible substrates, ranging from optically clear plastic films to reflective metal foils." The OLED uses two barrier coatings, however, the complete structure and fabrication process are outlined in the application.

•  Title: Flashing jewellery heartbeat monitor with multiple lights
Applicant: Ken Avicola, US
International application number: WO 2004/078028
A US inventor has come up with optical heart-rate monitors that can be worn as pieces of jewellery such as rings and earrings. The jewellery fires pulses of infrared light into the wearer's tissue, monitors the reflected signal to determine their heart beat and then flashes in time. Inventor Ken Avicola says that one version of the jewellery uses three different colored LEDs and a microprocessor. "The red LED blinks on each pulse, the green blinks on each pulse when the wearer's pulse rate is greater than a first threshold, then the blue blinks when the pulse rate is greater than a second threshold," he says in his application. He adds that other versions vary the brightness of the LEDs depending on the estimated blood pressure increases.

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

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