Commercializing optical trap detectors for calibration of laser power

A team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) transferred the design, assembly, test and operational knowledge of a highly accurate optical power detector to Spectrum Detector, Inc., which has successfully commercialized six products based on this knowledge. The commercial availability of a metrology-grade trap detector is allowing companies that manufacture and use laser power and energy meters to obtain stable, high-accuracy transfer standards at a reasonable price. As a result of this technology transfer, Spectrum Detector is enabling innovation in such diverse areas as optical communications, laser machining, and medicine. As the United States’ National Metrology Institute, NIST is responsible for disseminating basic and derived units of measurement (such as laser power). A critical part of obtaining measurement traceability through a NIST calibration is the use of transfer standards. Ideally, these standards must be stable, exhibit low uncertainty, and be tolerant of variations in measurement procedure. NIST developed transfer-standard detectors based on an optical trap design that improved the dissemination of optical power internal to NIST and among metrology institutes in other countries. These optical trap detectors represent the state-of-the-art in calibration transfer standards for laser power measurements and form the basis of this technology transfer. The novel trap design allows the measurement of a variety of optical beam geometries, thus supporting diverse optical sources such as laser beams, optical fibers, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and lamps, and provides improved accuracy while increasing the tolerance to optical beam variations. This invention has successfully decreased metrological uncertainty for commercial manufacturers and users of energy meters and National Metrology Institutes worldwide, and through this technology transfer is improving manufacturing operations and product quality across multiple industries.
Award Year: