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Government grant for high-tech laser research

A range of infra-red lasers with commercial implications for gas leak detection and medicine are to be developed by University of St Andrews scientists.

The 18 month project, funded by a £153,000 Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept award, will exploit two strengths associated with world- leading photonics activity in St Andrews – an established technology and product base in the Photonics Innovation Centre and a research base in the School of Physics and Astronomy.

Using the device as a torch in an active imaging system, innovative environmental observation products will be developed which will be portable, battery operable and easy to use. In, for example, the detection of gas leakage points, the proposed system conveys information to the operator through real time imaging of the scene and, therefore, on-site detection time is reduced compared to the conventional point detection methods (estimated 75% reduction). The efficient detection of faults will lead to more widespread monitoring and reduction in incident numbers. Future development of the technology will lead to vehicle and airborne products. Furthermore, the product could have implications for medicine and telecommunications. In the world of medicine, the technology’s flexibility will allow a wide- range of tissue penetration depths and may eventually reduce the need for surgery.

Established in 1997 with the assistance of a Research Development Grant from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), the Photonics Innovation Centre promotes the successful exploitation of emerging photonics technologies. The Centre acts as a bridge fostering partnerships with industry through the design, fabrication and user-assessment of novel components, devices and systems. These activities will develop new products with wealth and job creation opportunities for new and existing companies.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS

The project, to develop All-Solid- State Tuneable Lasers in the Mid- IR Spectral Range, will prove both the practicality of an innovative technology and realise its commercial potential by targeting a specific market (environmental monitoring) and exploiting its key competitive advantage, its pervasive spectral coverage. Currently available mid-IR sources give only limited spectral coverage while the competitive advantage of the new technology is its flexibility for addressing any part of the mid-IR spectral region through devices of a single generic type.

Further information can be obtained from:

 Dr Cameron F Rae or Mr Donald Walker, Photonics Innovation Centre, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS – telephone (01334) 467315, fax (01334) 463104 or email pic@st-andrews.ac.uk

or

 Claire Grainger, Press and Public Relations Officer, External Relations Department, University of St Andrews, St Salvator’s College, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AL – telephone (01334) 462530, fax (01334) 467458 or email proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: proofofconcept/standrews/chg/5april 2001

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