ESO Signs Technology Transfer Deal
Patent and expertise for Raman fibre lasers licensed to two commercial partners
12. August 2010
The European Southern Observatory has signed an agreement to license its cutting-edge laser technology to two commercial partners, Toptica Photonics and MPB Communications. This marks the first time that ESO has transferred patented technology and know-how to the private sector, offering significant opportunities both for business and for ESO. The two agreements will serve as test-cases for a new strategy for ESO’s Technology Transfer activities.
ESO Raman fibre amplifier technology  was developed in-house for use in sodium laser guide stars. These form part of the adaptive optics systems that make ESO’s Very Large Telescope one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories. Since the technology also has wide potential beyond its use in adaptive optics, ESO has chosen to disseminate the technology by offering non-exclusive licensing deals to potentially interested commercial users.
Technology transfer encourages the widespread use of ESO’s know-how, meaning that business benefits from a regulated access to novel know-how and from licensing the new technology to increase the industry competitiveness and product spectrum. ESO benefits from the adoption of its proprietary technology as an industry standard ensuring its long-term availability, and pursuing one of its missions, technology transfer. The non-exclusive licensing means more choice of suppliers in future for ESO and enhanced relationships and closeness with industry.
Compared to lasers built with other technologies, ESO Raman fibre amplifier lasers represent a breakthrough in weight, ruggedness, turn-key performance, size and reliability.
Domenico Bonaccini Calia of ESO’s Laser Systems Department says: “When we started developing these lasers, everyone said our goal was nearly impossible — even many of the other experts. Thanks to ESO’s unique technical environment and the skills of the team we were able to achieve this breakthrough and make these new technologies available to our community. Now we are not only using the technology here at ESO, but also promoting its wider use by the laser industry.”
The advantages of ESO Raman fibre amplifier lasers make them an attractive replacement for competing technologies in many areas. They are also highly adaptable and can be used to produce light at wavelengths that other lasers cannot currently produce. This opens up the possibility of many new applications being developed to take advantage of these brand new capabilities.
 The novel narrowband Raman fibre amplification technique amplifies the output of a narrowband laser diode at 1178 nm up to 40 W (CW), which is then converted to visible light at 589 nm by a resonantly-enhanced high power frequency doubler. The light is used to create an artificial laser guide star by exciting sodium atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere at 90 km altitude.
The ESO team is composed of (in alphabetical order): Domenico Bonaccini Calia, Wolfgang Hackenberg, Ronald Holzloehner, Steffan Lewis and Luke Taylor.
- Press release from MPB Communications
- Toptica Photonics
- Messenger article about the Raman fibre laser
Domenico Bonaccini Calia
ESO Laser Systems Department
Tel: +49 89 3200 6567
ESO Technology Transfer officer
Tel: +49 89 3200 6811
Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head of ESO ePOD
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cell: +49 173 387 2621
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