AZoOptics sat down with Cycle at the LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019 show in Munich, Germany, to discuss their lasers and timing distribution systems, as well as their Innovation Award winning product, the SOPRANO.
Please tell us a bit about Cycle and why you are exhibiting at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019.
Cycle is a spin-off company from Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany - a national research center and one of the world's leading accelerator facilities. We were founded four years ago by Professor Franz X. Kaertner and his colleagues, and we provide world-leading timing distribution systems for large-scale facilities like Free-Electron-Lasers (FEL), as well as smaller ultrafast optics laboratories worldwide.
We create innovative ultrafast technology for science and industry applications. For example, our timing detectors enable timing measurements between ultrafast lasers and microwave devices with sub-femtosecond resolution. Through research at DESY, sub-femtosecond synchronization has even been demonstrated across a distance of several kilometers.
This year Cycle has also started to provide femtosecond lasers. Our first product in this area is a laser for microscopy. That is one of the reasons why we decided to come to the show today; to demonstrate its functionality and capabilities.
Please tell us about the products being showcased here today.
For multiphoton microscopy (MPM) applications, the conventional systems rely on solid-state lasers, which can be a little bulky and are not always budget friendly. Therefore, we wanted to develop fiber-based laser sources, which are more cost-effective and can also generate the required wavelengths for MPM applications.
The SOPRANO, which is one of the products we are showcasing today, is our femtosecond laser, based on that idea of fiber-based laser sources. It has two simultaneous output wavelengths (with an optional third), and a pulse duration below 100 fs. It is ideal for 3-Photon-Microscopy and other multiphoton imaging techniques. I think the most significant advantage of this kind of light source, especially for 3-Photon-Microscopy, is that it can simultaneously create pulses at around 1300 and 1700 nanometers.
The other two products we are showcasing are synchronization devices, which can synchronize femtosecond lasers to each other or a microwave signal with extremely low noise. We are the world leader in this area, providing the most precise timing detectors for these lasers and microwave sources. With our technology, our customers in FEL facilities can effectively create molecular movies - recording how the molecules move as a chemical reaction takes place.
The SOPRANO was an Innovation Award winner for 2019 - could you tell us a bit about that?
The Innovation Award at LASER World of PHOTONICS has five categories:
- Biophotonics and Medical Engineering
- Imaging / Sensors, Test and Measurement, Optical Measurement Systems
- Lasers and Laser Systems for Production Engineering
- Lasers and Optoelectronics / Illumination and Energy
- Optics / Manufacturing Technology for Optics
The SOPRANO was selected as one of the finalists for 'Biophotonics and Medical Engineering', and in the end, it won because it is such a groundbreaking device, in terms of specifications, size, and price.
It can be used for many microscopy techniques; for example, third- or second-harmonic generation microscopy and two-photon microscopy, even though we initially tailored it for three-photon fluorescence microscopy.
The two simultaneous outputs that I mentioned before are incredibly unique in the market, and it is crucial for this kind of microscopy. The additional tunable repetition rate from 1 MHz up to 30 MHz makes it much more useful for the different microscopy technologies.
What real-life applications can use Cycle's solutions?
Cycle aims to create innovative ultrafast technology for scientists, to help bring their experiments to the leading edge of science and to enable them to see the dynamics in their experiments with unprecedented temporal resolution.
One application of the SOPRANO, in particular, is in optical skin biopsy. In the past, dermatologists and doctors have needed to conduct skin biopsies, which is invasive and time-consuming. The analysis from a biopsy is not instantaneous and requires further processing (labeling) to get the wanted results. Researchers can now use our lasers to illuminate skin tissues and analyze for diseases (e.g., skin cancer) instantaneously even during surgery.
With our fiber-based solutions, the cost of the MPM systems will be lower compared to currently used systems, and so we hope they could be used more frequently in hospitals in the future, improving patient experience and lowering costs for the hospitals.
About Alex Lang
Alexander Lang is the Director of Sales at Cycle GmbH, a spin-off company of DESY in Hamburg, Germany. He is an expert in ultrafast laser technology.
After graduation from the University of Applied Sciences in Emden, Germany (Dipl.-Ing. of Laser Technology), he started his career as a laser engineer at High Q Laser in Austria, which is now part of MKS. After moving to their Boston office in 2007, he led the sales effort in the Americas from 2009 until they got acquired.
Before he joined Cycle, he was Head of Sales and Marketing at Onefive in Zürich, Switzerland for 5 years until their acquisition by NKT Photonics.
Since May 2018, Alex has been responsible for international sales and marketing at Cycle GmbH, who provide femtosecond solutions to various industries and research institutions. Besides timing/frequency distribution systems and synchronization devices for ultrafast lasers, Cycle also produces femtosecond lasers and provides accessories for these, e.g. chirped ultrabroadband mirrors.
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