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Lasers & Sources

Wilhelm Kaenders: Adapting for success in the global laser market

The founder of the German laser company offers advice for photonics companies: be flexible and think beyond your own borders.

12 August 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201307.03

Wilhelm Kaenders co-founded TOPTICA Photonics in 1998, and serves as Vorstand/President. He was "infected" with an interest in cold atom physics as a PhD student at the Institute of Quantum Optics in Hannover, closely collaborating with Theodor Hänsch's group at the Max-Planck-Institute in Garching, Munich. Kaenders started TOPTICA with tunable diode-laser technology, still the driving force in TOPTICA's extensive line of scientific products. In addition TOPTICA is well-known for state-of the art fiber lasers. Narrow-band external-cavity diode lasers were developed at the time for atom cooling and atom optics, but also for a high-precision optical technique called "frequency division." The idea of linking in lock-step radio and optical frequencies, thanks to the advent of compact ultrashort-pulse fiber lasers and of supercontinuum generation, has evolved to a powerful new approach dubbed "frequency combing."

Kaenders says that TOPTICA's interest is to foster the transition from early research into high-end industrial applications. He strives to stay abreast of new optical technologies and serves as a judge for the Prism Awards, where he enjoys the very high quality of submissions.