Strathclyde University Develops ‘Global First’ Precision Laser
Scottish scientists have developed a high-precision laser the size of a pack of playing cards.
One-tenth the cost of competing lasers, the distinctive lasers size, portability and low cost make it the first of its kind. It can be used in new applications including precision clocks and sensors, examples of quantum technology.
Quantum mechanics incorporates physics at its most fundamental level – tiny packets of energy and subatomic particles. The laser applies the principles of quantum mechanics to everyday life. It has taken a year of prototype development and testing to bring the new laser to market.
The Scottish-made laser was created by the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics at Strathclyde University.
The centre in Glasgow is part of a global network and is the first of its kind in the UK. The centre was named after the German physicist Joseph von Fraunhofer.
Each centre carries out applied scientific and technological research for industry. The mp3 algorithm which creates compressed versions of digital music files was also developed by a Fraunhofer centre.
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The project was supported by the quantum technologies initiative of the innovation agency Innovate UK and the unique laser was created in collaboration with Optocap. The Livingston based optoelectronics company approached the Glasgow centre in order to design a new line of products.
The possible applications include the next generation of satellite navigation systems and a new range of telecoms. The researchers explain that precision sensors could improve navigation in aircraft encountering bad visibility.
Dr Loyd McKnight from Fraunhofer’s Centre for Applied Photonics said: “It’s very satisfying to see it now available in the rapidly developing quantum technology market”.
McKnight added it was a prime example of Fraunhofer’s mission to generate technologies in order to benefit the economy and society.