Project: Innovative acoustooptic systems in the Mid Infrared

The project associates two small scale companies._x000D__x000D_ Fastlite, based in Paris, France, with research laboratories in Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, is specialized in instruments for the temporal and spectral control of ultra short laser pulses in the range of picoseconds to femtoseconds. Its CO line of products, under the trademark Dazzler, is based on an acousto-optic device, the acousto optic programmable dispersive filter (AOPDF), that performs pulse shaping in the range of the NIR to the UV (4 micrometer to 0.25 micrometer). The product is a small centimeter size, electronically controlled, highly stable pulse shaping unit, a very desirable alternative to the large optical bench systems that some laboratories assemble by themselves. 200 instruments have been installed worldwide to date. Essentially all major institutions performing research on ultrafast lasers use Dazzlers. Fastlite owns Intellecttual Property on the AOPDF concept, and after ten years of operation reCOs the sole manufacturer of AOPDFs. _x000D__x000D_BBT, based in Prague, Czech Republic, manufactures materials, and is a world leader in the manufacturing of Mercury Halide crystals, such as Hg2Cl2 (Calomel), which are well adapted to fabricate acoustooptic devices operating in the InfraRed (3 to 30 microns). _x000D__x000D_The collaboration of the two companies has for its primary objective to introduce a new instrument : an AOPPDF operating in the Mid IR range. This instrument will have immediate applications to study dynamic properties in the wavelength range of the majority of molecular vibrations frequencies. It will significantly enhance the impact of the ultrafast laser as a research tool in chemistry and biology._x000D__x000D_Beyond the iniitial AOPDF product, several opportunities will be opened by the mastering of this technology. An acoustoptic IR spectrometer, under a Fastlite patented design, can combine the resolution of Fourier Transform Spectrometer, with the compactness and high measurement rate of acoustooptic devices. Spectral imaging systems have been discussed in the litterature together with a number of defence and space related applications. The rapid development of these applications will generate a market for the Mercury Halide quality crystals, for which BBT is currently the unique or major supplier._x000D__x000D_Although, BBT is currently marketing good quality crystals, there are large technological challenges to go from crystal to devices and further to complete instruments. It is the aim of the project to meet those challenges and put the Fastlite company in a position to market instruments in the time frame of the project. For their respective research, both companies benefit from very close contacts with academic laboratories, at Ecole Polytechnique and Prague University._x000D_ _x000D_The first challenge will be to implement the crystal processing operations, such as dicing, orienting, polishing, etc. at the level of precision required for acoustooptic devices, in unusually soft materials. The second challenge concerns the design of acoustooptic transducers, with the CO hurdle being the high reactivity of mercury based crystals to any metal deposit. Innovative technologies using bulk hybrid material combinations with acoustic impedance adaptation will be explored. In general, the aimed devices are innovative and a number of issues have to be explored to achieve optimal designs and characteristics. The project plan is the following:_x000D_Year I :Obtain Dazzler test vehicles and preliminary performance data on these vehicles. Assemble ultrafast laser source designed for these evaluations._x000D_Year II : Address the technological problems to be solved for implementing a small scale pilot production line . Design of the instrument hardware and software . Obtain test vehicles of the high resolution spectrometer concept . _x000D_Year III Software and hardware integration and tests of the spectrometer product. Marketing operations on this new product . Evaluation of the commercial possibilities of other applications mentioned, in particular space related applications. Experimentation of these new applications with academic laboratories.

Acronym MIRSA (Reference Number: 4244)
Duration 01/06/2008 - 31/05/2011
Project Topic Research and Development of innovative acoustooptic devices, based on Mercury halide compounds, that perform operations of programmable filtering and high resolution spectroscopy in the infrared spectal region from 5 micrometer to 30 micrometers.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The Calomel Crystals Growth and Processing technologies have been perfected up to the quality level necessary for pulse shaping devices and for spectromter devices. Mid IR Temporal Pulse shaping systems are introduced in the market by FASTLITE in 1Q2012, with BBT acting as an OEM supplier or the device. FASTLITE and BBT are Ps in on-going research and development to adapt the devices to hyperspectral imaging, with support from ESA. BBT reached the technology level to be able to sign a contract with ESA based on calomel crystal application.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 FASTLITE Coordinator France
2 BBT - Materials Processing, Ltd. Partner Czech Republic