SPIE Professional April 2010
Lunar Laser Ranging
After 40 years of continuous lunar laser ranging using 1960s-era equipment and reflectors left on the moon by Apollo astronauts, the McDonald Laser Ranging Station in Texas lost its NSF funding late last year.
More modern LLR stations at Apache Point in New Mexico (USA) and Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (France) will carry out the same work, however, and with greater accuracy.
LLR experiments have allowed scientists to determine the exact distance between the Earth and moon, the speed of rotation of the Earth and the moon, as well as axial and orbital variations. Lunar laser analysis provides a highly accurate test of the Equivalence Principle along with several other tests of Einstein's general relativity. More in the SPIE Newsroom.
Extreme Light Infrastructure
Scientists involved with the pan-European Extreme Light Infrastructure project have agreed to spread the first facilities for an exawatt-class laser among three or four countries in eastern Europe. The first three sites, to be part of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium, will be in Prague in the Czech Republic, Szeged, Hungary, and Magurele, Romania.
The Prague facility will be dedicated to particle acceleration and x-ray generation while the Szeged facility will be focused on attosecond science. The Magurele site will be used for laser-based photonuclear physics.
ELI will be the first infrastructure to investigate laser-matter interactions in the unexplored ultra-relativistic regime. When built, the ELI laser will deliver extremely bright pulses at high repetition rate (at least 1 shot per minute).
Gerard Mourou is ELI project coordinator. More
SPIE Laser Video Series
Video interviews with laser innovators, pioneers, historians, and others involved with laser technologies for medicine, industry, and research are being posted to the SPIE Newsroom weekly as part of the SPIE Advancing the Laser tribute.
Topics range from a 2010 discussion of optical coherence tomography by MIT's James Fujimoto to the history of the laser at TRUMPF. A 1983 video of Theodore Maiman recalling the race to invent the laser is also included in the series. See these and more.
Laser pointers have become so commonplace and affordable, and laser guide stars so frequently used in adaptive optics systems at major observatories that rules have been put into place to ensure they aren't misused and don't interfere with aircraft or orbiting satellites.
Observatories such as the ones at Palomar (CA) and Mauna Kea (HI) in the United States and elsewhere that use lasers in their adaptive optics systems must follow rules promulgated by their country's aeronautical and military authorities.
Small laser pointers have been used to distract a hockey player during a Flames-Canucks game in Vancouver (Canada) and hundreds of pilots in several countries, prompting local and federal police to investigate and prosecute. A Massachusetts man faces up to 25 years in prison after being convicted in federal court of pointing a green laser beam at a state police helicopter in 2007 and then lying to police about it.
Jenoptik Opens Laser Application Center in Korea
Jenoptik Chairman Michael Mertin and CFO Frank Einhellinger opened a new sales, application and service site in Pyeongtaek, Korea in March. The $4.4 million facility allows customers and interested parties in the areas of electronic, flat panels, photovoltaics, and automotive to test lasers and laser applications for their own production environments on site with their own materials and refine the processes together with Jenoptik engineers.
The center is equipped with two laser systems for processes in the electronic as well as photovoltaics and flat panel industries: the JENOPTIK VOTAN(TM) Semi 300 is designed for machining wafers (Si, GaAs or SiC) and thus also for ultra-precise applications in clean room environments. The special separation process developed by Jenoptik, so-called TLS-Dicing(TM) (TLS = Thermal Laser Separation), enables the quick, efficient and damage-free separation of semiconductor wafers. With the JENOPTIK VOTAN(TM) Advanced laser system, the TLS process specifically addresses the photovoltaics and flat panel industry for separation of thin-film solar cells and display glass.
In addition to tests, the facility can be used to develop individual technological solutions on the systems, manufacture pilot runs and small batches, and commission feasibility studies.
There are plans to expand the application center with additional laser systems as part of the expansion of JENOPTIK Korea Corporation Ltd.