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Patent highlights

17 Dec 2004

The pick of this week's applications including a femtosecond fiber laser that could make eye surgery safer.

•  Title: Method of making a photonic crystal preform
Applicant: Corning Incorporated, US
International application number: WO 2004/106248
Scientists at US materials specialist Corning have devised a method of making a photonic crystal fiber (PCF) preform by stacking and bonding individual glass disks patterned with voids. Typically, a PCF perform's honeycomb cross-section is created by fusing an array of rods or tubes together or by machining a solid piece of glass. According to Corning, one advantage of its technique is that channels within the PCF perform can be interrupted by simply inserting a glass blank at intervals within the stack of patterned disks. To provide alignment, each disk is notched or stacked on graphite or polymer rods that are burnt out during heat treatment. The finished PCF is then drawn as usual.

•  Title:Apparatus and method for ophthalmologic surgical procedures using a femtosecond fiber laser
Applicant: Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, Germany, and IMRA America Inc, US
International application number: WO 2004/105660
Procedures such as LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) that surgically reshape the cornea of the eye to correct impaired vision may become safer thanks to apparatus described in patent application WO 2004/105660. The invention describes a high-repetition rate femtosecond fiber laser coupled to a high-speed scanner. Currently, ultraviolet excimer lasers are often used to photoablate the eye. According to the applicants of the patent this is a relatively a crude process given the size of the laser spot. "The use of femtosecond laser pulses allows the spot size to be drastically reduced, and thus a smoother shape can be obtained," they explain. Additionally, with a repetition rate of at least 50 000 pulses per second and a pulse length of less than 1 picosecond, the femtosecond laser should reduce the procedure time. This minimizes the chance of eye movement during the operation.

•  Title:White-light laser
Applicant: Eastman Kodak Company, US
International application number: WO 2004/107512
Kodak has applied to patent a white-light laser that works by combining the emission from an array of coloured laser light pixels formed on a substrate. Each pixel contains at least one organic light emitting diode (OLED) that pumps a number of organic vertical cavity lasers. By making the latter asymmetric in shape, the device can emit polarized light. The use of a control system means that the array of image elements can be addressed to form a collimated beam of patterned white light.

James Tyrrell is reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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