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18 June 2008


FAST-DOT ultrafast laser project kicks off

On 2-3 June, 37 participants attended the ‘kick-off’ launch meeting for the new four-year collaborative project FAST-DOT (‘Compact ultrafast laser sources based on novel quantum dot structures’), which is funded by a €10.1m (£8m) grant within the European Community Seventh Framework Programme.

The project aims to develop portable, low-cost, reliable, highly efficient ultrashort pulse and ultra-broadband tunable laser sources, based on novel semiconductor nanostructure clusters (QDs), for critical biomedical applications.

The FAST-DOT consortium comprises 18 complementary European research groups and companies involved in QD science, QD devices, system integration and biophotonics, including: 11 research groups (Greece’s University of Athens and the Foundation for Research and Technology–Hellas, Italy’s Politecnico di Torino, the UK’s University of Sheffield and University of Dundee, Lithuania’s Vilnius University, Germany’s Technische Universitaet Darmstadt, Spain’s Institut de Ciences Fotoniques Barcelona (ICFO), Finland’s Tampere University of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), and Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology); and seven industrial partners (M-Squared Lasers Ltd of Glasgow, UK, France’s Alcatel Thales III V lab, Time-Bandwidth Products AG of Zurich, Switzerland, and Germany’s TOPTICA Photonics AG in Munich, Philips Technologie GmbH in Aachen, QD light-emitter manufacturer Innolume GmbH in Dortmund, and Molecular Machines and Industries GmbH in Eching).

According to team leader University of Dundee, the new lasers will be much smaller and more efficient than current lasers (which are not portable and are heavy on energy consumption) and will be designed for use in microscopy and nanosurgery, where high-precision cutting, imaging and treatment therapies will be made possible.

“A step change improvement in the cost, size and robustness of ultrafast lasers is needed before they can benefit biomedical applications fully,” says Dr Graeme Malcolm, CEO of M-Squared Lasers. “Technologies developed by FAST-DOT will enable these lasers to migrate from the bench-top to hospitals and laboratories,” he adds. The lasers will mean that surgeons and life scientists will have access to much higher-performance and lower-cost lasers than are currently available and should open up new application areas for lasers in biomedicine.

“This project will revolutionize the use of lasers in the biomedical field, providing both practitioners and researchers with pocket-sized ultrahigh-performance lasers at a substantially lower cost which will make their widespread use affordable,” says Dundee University professor Edik Rafailov.

Almost 100 man years of effort will be directed towards the research throughout the partnership. In particular, the funding will enable the creation of five new research posts at University of Dundee.

See related items:

European roadmap for photonics and nanotechnologies

Nonlinear Fano effect tracks down weak quantum dot couplings

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