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Amplitude Systèmes sets up ultrafast lab in Paris

20 Mar 2012

Leading developer of femtosecond fiber lasers agrees exclusive licensing deal with Laboratoire Charles Fabry.

Ultrafast laser specialist Amplitude Systèmes and the Laboratoire Charles Fabry have expanded their close ties by establishing a new joint research laboratory that will support ten researchers working on high-performance sources.

Called “DEFI”, the new lab is based at the Institut d'Optique in the southern Parisian suburb of Palaiseau, and will focus on diode-pumped ultrafast lasers in particular. According to Bordeaux-based Amplitude, the team at DEFI will work on both emerging concepts and prototype laser development for the next generation of ultrafast sources.

Amplitude is already at the forefront of that field, winning a Prism Award at this year’s Photonics West trade show for its “Satsuma HE” ultrafast laser, which has been designed for industrial applications.

The company has worked on ytterbium-based sources with Laboratoire Charles Fabry since 2006 – developing for example sub-100 femtosecond high-energy fiber lasers - but CEO Eric Mottay told optics.org that setting up the new DEFI laboratory represents a significant expansion of that collaboration.

Mottay said that he and Laboratoire Charles Fabry’s Patrick Georges would formally head up the new lab, but that Yoann Zaoute from Amplitude and Frederic Druon from Charles Fabry would act as lead researchers.

Exclusive licence
The two parties will share jointly any intellectual property based on common results, but Amplitude, which is supporting the lab both by providing equipment and making a financial investment to support its researchers, has an exclusive licence from Laboratoire Charles Fabry on its share of the IP generated.

Although not yet widely used in industrial applications, femtosecond lasers are starting to make a commercial impact in life sciences. One particular application that is likely to take off this year is femtosecond laser cataract surgery, with at least four companies in the process of commercializing such systems.

With the ageing of the global population, that is seen as a major market opportunity for the technology, but other applications in the sector include advanced techniques for cellular imaging based on nonlinear optics, and even laser proton therapy – an emerging new technique for cancer treatment.

Amplitude has also highlighted the potential for the technology in anti-counterfeiting applications, while high-precision micromachining of glass components represents an opportunity for femtosecond lasers in the industrial sector.

Just last month, Amplitude gained a major vote of confidence with a €30 million investment in the company led by private equity groups in both France and China. Mottay told optics.org at the time that the deal would support international expansion and R&D investment.

Mottay co-founded the company in 2001 along with Gilles Riboulet. Last year, Amplitude officially opened a new 3000 square meter (30,000 sq ft) facility in Bordeaux, featuring clean rooms, offices and production space, as well as a new office in Taiwan.

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