SBIR Phase I: Compressing and measuring ultrashort laser pulses in imaging and spectroscopy.
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
6300 Powers Ferry Road, 600-345, Atlanta, GA, 30339
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop four novel ultrashort-laser-pulse devices. Each will solve an important problem for the rapidly growing communities of researchers and technologists who use exciting new ultrashort-laser-pulse techniques for imaging, micro-machining, telecommunications, and chemical reaction control, among other applications. Most such applications work best with the shortest pulse, but currently operate with much longer ones. While pulse compressors, which solve this problem, have been available in research labs, their complexity has prevented their commercialization. Consequently, this project presents an elegant, easy-to-use single-prism compressor, which will significantly improve image sensitivity and resolution in multi-photon microscopy, for example. Another problem is the need to measure the pulses, which is difficult because they are the shortest events ever created. Thus, another proposed device would measure ultrashort laser pulses over a wide range of wavelengths (from the mid-UV to the mid-IR). Another will, for the first time, conveniently yield a complete measurement of an ultrashort laser pulse at the focus of a microscope, where its measurement is most needed- another currently unsolved problem. The fourth device will measure shaped pulses- pulses deliberately shaped into complex waveforms. This is important because companies are now selling pulse shapers for many applications, but currently no device exists to confirm the resulting pulse shape. Ultrashort laser pulses are used in many fields for many applications, but they are difficult to create, work with, and maintain at the desired ultrashort pulse lengths. Passing through even small amounts of glass (such as lenses and windows) and material (even air!) lengthens and distorts them. Thus, the proposed devices will impact a wide range of fields. The pulse compressor will greatly benefit multi-photon microscopy-in use in over 1000 biological labs worldwide. Micro-machining efforts and new ophthalmological surgical techniques that now use ultrashort pulses also require the shortest possible pulses. The ability to measure ultrashort pulses completely and conveniently will benefit the many communities that use them, from the ophthalmological and micro-machining communities, which must confirm the use of the shortest pulses at tight foci, to the telecommunications and chemistry communities, which shape their pulses into potentially extremely complex waveforms and currently cannot measure them. The commercial value of these devices is roughly several million dollars annually.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.