Advanced waveguide laser source development using ultrafast laser inscription

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science


Most laser systems emit a continuous wave of light, but if the laser is designed correctly it can be induced to emit very short pulses of light using a technique known as mode-locking . There is currently a wide spread requirement for compact, mode-locked laser sources in areas ranging from bio-photonics to metrology. The aim of this proposed project is to develop such sources using two innovative technologies: ultrafast laser inscription and carbon nanotubes as described briefly below. The project will utilise the internationally leading expertise in each of these areas at Heriot Watt University and Cambridge University. If successful, the project will result in a paradigm shift in the current technology. Ultrafast lasers are lasers that emit extremely short pulses of light, routinely less than 100 fs. Due to the short durations of such pulses, the peak powers supplied by modern table top systems can often reach the GW regime. By focusing ultrafast laser pulses inside a transparent material, the structure of the material placed at the focus may be permanently altered. If the material is then translated through the focus, three-dimensional structural modifications can be inscribed in the material. The induced structural modification may manifest itself in a variety of ways, examples of which include an increased etch rate or refractive index change. Through careful control of the inscription parameters, the structural changes can be used to directly inscribe photonic components such as optical waveguides (that guide light in an analogous way to the guiding of electrical current by a metal wire) and micro-channels (that can be used to guide fluids or gases). During this project, we will utilise the unprecedented flexibility offered by ultrafast laser inscription to fabricate a number of previously impossible, or hard to fabricate elements for waveguide laser applications.Carbon nanotubes are cylindrical carbon molecules with diameters of typically only a few nanometers and lengths of up to a few cm, they are at the centre of nanotechnology research. In contrast to conventional bulk materials, the electronic and optical properties of carbon nanotubes can be controlled through their physical size and structure. If correctly fabricated carbon nanotubes are placed inside a laser, mode-locking can be induced without the need for complex electronics. A large part of the project will focus on developing carbon nanotubes with the correct properties for waveguide laser mode-locking applications, and on using ultrafast laser inscription to construct a waveguide laser element that will integrate these carbon nanotubes into the final device.


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Description We have developed very compact lasers which delivers high power and short pulses. We have fabricated these lasers by using another laser source. We have used the laser like a writing pen. We have focussed a short pulse laser inside the laser material to fabric waveguides which are equivalent to optical fibres. But in this case we do not require complex fibre towers and clean room facilities. Photofluidic biophotonice devices were developed for cell sorting and cell manipulation for therapeutic applications. The single cell separator has been developed.
Exploitation Route The technology was transferred to a spinout called Optoscribe

The company is now valued at £7M
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy

Description Technology was transferred to a spinout company Optoscribe The company is now valued at £7M
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Economic

Description UKIERI
Amount £145,704 (GBP)
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2007 
End 12/2012
Description UKIERI
Amount £415,117 (GBP)
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2007 
End 02/2012
Description Development of LN3+doped fluoride glasses and nano-glass ceramics for compact visible and white light laser applications 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department Physics Department
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of novel visible laser sources
Collaborator Contribution Development of novel laser materials
Impact The collaboration is ongoing. We have presented results in the national and international conferences. We expect to publish some papers in international journals soon.
Start Year 2013
Description Ultrafast Laser Inscription (ULI) Collaboration 
Organisation Shandong University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have developed wavegiude lasers by ULI.
Collaborator Contribution They have developed novel laser and nonlinear optical materials.
Impact We have jointly published 9 papers in internationally reputed journals.
Start Year 2010
Description Ultrashort Pulse Laser Waveguide Inscription in Glasses for Integrated Optics 
Organisation Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Department Department of Instrumentation
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Novel linear, nonlinear and laser materials were developed by two collaborators IISc Bengaluru and SV University. We have undertaken optical studies on these materials to develop integrated photonic devices.
Collaborator Contribution Main role for the collaborators to develop novel linear, nonlinear and laser materials.
Impact So far we've published 4 journal photonics and a number of presentation
Start Year 2007
Company Name Optoscribe 
Description Laser based manufacturing of photonics components for modern digital communications. 
Year Established 2010 
Impact New product developed by the company resulted in largest bandwidth ever transmitted by a single optical fibre.