The new sensor will make it possible to produce more accurate equipment for laser surgery, welding, and laser engraving.
“This sensor is very high speed – capable of recording very fast laser impulses that are normally used, for example, in laser surgery. There are lasers where the pulses cannot be measured individually. They are measured in an integrated long period of time and mean values are obtained. In principle, it works, but it is not particularly good, because the intensity of the laser varies from pulse to pulse,” explained Mārtiņš Rutkis, a scientist at the LU Institute of Solid State Physics.
The sensor developed in Latvia works a thousand times faster than those currently available on the market.
“This is the first very quickly working sensor that allows you to work in real-time mode. You can measure at the same time that this pulse has emerged,” said Ivars Kalviņš, president of the Latvian Academy of Sciences.
The sensor is based on unique material properties derived from very thin layers. The material came from another study that attempted to create a nanogenerator that would produce heat-generated current. The generator was not effective enough, but what appeared to be a defect in one study became a benefit in another study.
The new product created in Latvia is patented and is also planned to be commercialized in the coming years.
“We have entered into a licensing agreement with a relatively large optical instrument and component firm, ThorLabs GmbH,” Rutkis said.
The Institute estimates that the new sensor will be available to customers around the world by the end of this year.