Laser device takes the limelight

Tuesday 11 January 2000

A tiny measuring device developed by Scots researchers has taken the limelight on the world stage after winning an international award for commercial excellence. Timewarp, which was invented by Dr Derryck Reid and Professor Wilson Sibbett of the University of St Andrews, has won the Laser Focus Commercial Technology Award.

Judged by a panel of industry experts, the palm-sized device can measure extremely short pulses of light and has applications in the fields of chemistry, semi- conductor science and tele- communications where scientists routinely use optical pulses with durations approaching one millionth of a billionth of a second. Timewarp is also proving crucial in the field of life- sciences where microscopes using femto-second pulses are used to make the very highest resolution 3D images of cells.

Dr Reid of the School of Physics and Astronomy said, “This is a considerable achievement and recognises the groundbreaking work that the St Andrews team has done on the physics and technology of the measurement of ultra-short light pulses. Until now, the award has been the domain of huge US companies so it’s a real honour for a piece of fundamental scientific technology originating in a Scottish university to have resulted in an internationally award-winning commercial product”.

Manufactured under licence by UK firm Elliot Scientific Limited, Timewarp replaces conventional measurement instruments which require a high-voltage power supply and fragile components together with expert installation.

Timewarp is easy to align, cheaper to produce and occupies a fraction of the space of previous instruments.

The award follows the success of the University’s microgreen laser which was singled out for the Laser Focus World Commercial Technology Achievement Award in 1995. The miniature laser has been used in medicine and in the printing industry.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews.

Category Research

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