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Update On Advance Nanotech ULTRATUBE collaboration

Published on August 17, 2007 at 8:58 AM

Advance Nanotech, Inc., a leading provider of financing and support services to drive the commercialization of nanotechnology-related products for homeland security and display technologies, today provided an update on its ULTRATUBE collaboration with Dow Corning - a joint venture between Corning Inc. and Dow Chemical Co. - and the University of Cambridge.

At the International Conference on Optical, Optoelectronic and Photonic Materials and Applications in London, from July 30 through August 3, 2007, scientists from the ULTRATUBE team reported significant progress in the realization of a compact and rugged fiber laser capable of delivering sub-picosecond (trillionth of a second) optical pulses.

Led by Dr. Andrea Ferrari and Prof. Bill Milne at the Centre for Advance Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) of the University of Cambridge, ULTRATUBE is a CAPE Partner Project that has benefited from Advance Nanotech’s funding and commercialization resources as well as Dow Corning’s provision of high-performance photonic polymers. At this and other recent conferences, the ULTRATUBE team has demonstrated the excellent robustness of this packaged laser, which stems from the reduced sensitivity of the CNT-based technology to optical misalignment and mechanical perturbations. The team has shown how the laser module can be moved, shaken and tapped without affecting the laser output. Increased laser operating power will soon enable a wide range of applications, and the ULTRATUBE team has started to collaborate with an established European laser manufacturer for the custom development of CNT-based components for commercial pulsed lasers.

Commenting on the demonstration of the laser module, Dr. Claudio Marinelli, Advance Nanotech’s Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Cambridge said: “This demonstration provides further evidence of the continued progress of the ULTRATUBE program. That we can demonstrate a device the size of a paperback book with these performance characteristics not only confirms the potential of nanotechnology but also unlocks new market possibilities.”

ULTRATUBE researchers have mixed polymers with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to create very low-cost, nano-composite films that interact with laser light to turn a continuous light beam into a train of ultrashort pulses, with durations of only few hundred femtoseconds (a femtosecond is one billionth of one millionth of a second). Short-pulse lasers are used for processing (drilling, cutting and micromachining) a wide range of materials, as well as for medical imaging, basic research, instrumentation, inspection, measurement and control applications. This market is currently served by diode-pumped solid state lasers and fiber lasers. ULTRATUBE “plug-and-play” photonic components can be installed in existing laser systems to enable or enhance the generation of high-quality, ultrashort optical pulses.

In recognition of their technical breakthroughs and the high commercial potential of their work, Dr. Ferrari and his team were short-listed in February 2007 as one of the four finalists for the $500,000 Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation 2007. This prestigious Royal Society award was set up in 2001 to help scientists develop already proven prototypes in the field of nanotechnology through to market products for commercial exploitation.

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