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Photonics innovators launch on-line catalogue

Scottish researchers have launched an innovative on-line catalogue selling specialist ‘quasi-optical’ components which can be used for applications such as security scanning, improving mobile telephone signals and car crash avoidance.

The web-based Catalogue set up by the Photonics Innovation Centre at the University of St Andrew’s School of Physics & Astronomy demonstrates the design and prototyping capability of the Centre and its ability to address specific customer requirements. Since its launch, the site has already attracted enquiries from Japan, the US, the UK and Europe.

Traditionally, the market for such millimetre wave devices has been the scientific, advanced technology and military sectors but now the technology is transferring into the mainstream commercial market.

Within the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves (long) to gamma waves (short), mm-waves have wavelengths thousands of times longer than visible or infrared light. This means they can penetrate elements such as fog and dust more effectively than normal or infrared light, making them ideal for thermal imaging in bad weather, or detecting objects under clothing. A security scanning system of this type capable of detecting even non- metallic weapons was recently featured on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme.

In comparison with longer wavelength radio or microwaves, mm- waves are frequently used for precision measurement or high data rate communications by exploiting the compact line-of-sight antennas and high information carrying capacity such signals offer. Quasi-optical systems are widely used for high-performance applications such as satellite- borne instruments, battlefield systems, radio astronomy and fusion power research.

The Catalogue was developed by Dr Duncan Robertson who leads the commercialisation of mm-wave technology at the Photonics Innovation Centre. He outlined the project to a specialist audience at an international conference in Toulouse recently and said:

“This Catalogue makes us one of only a handful of suppliers in the world who produce mm-wave quasi- optical equipment. New devices are constantly being developed from the research carried out at the University which keeps the Catalogue at the leading edge of technology. We rely on highly skilled local sub-contractors to manufacture the components which means that the commercial success of the Catalogue adds directly to the wealth of the Scottish economy. The money we make is ploughed back into the development of new products to meet future customer requirements.”

At the moment, the Catalogue features mm-wave and quasi-optical components, such as lenses, mirrors, filters and polarisers. Photonic and electronic products are planned additions that will also become available on-line.

The Photonics Innovation Centre designs, manufactures and tests prototypes for industry, government and academic groups, many of which will eventually be available commercially through the Catalogue.

The on-line Catalogue is available at http://www.st- and.ac.uk/institutes/pic/Catalogue. html

The Photonics Innovation Centre website is available at http://www.st- and.ac.uk/institutes/pic

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

DR DUNCAN ROBERTSON, THE DEVELOPER OF THE CATALOGUE, IS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW TODAY (MONDAY 17TH DECEMBER, 2001). PLEASE CALL HIM DIRECT ON 01334 467307.

 

THE PHOTONICS INNOVATION CENTRE (PIC)

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.

 

 

 

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: PIC catalogue pr 171201 View the latest University news at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk/extrel/press.htm

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