Ultrafast fibre laser specialist IMRA America (IMRA) and Jenoptik Laser in Germany have entered into a license agreement for the use of IMRA patent rights, which includes techniques of micromachining by using ultrafast lasers. The agreement will allow Jenoptik to expand into new markets by allowing customers to create micromachined products.
The patent family includes U.S. patents RE37, RE585 and RE5,656,186, known as ‘method for controlling configuration of laser induced breakdown and ablation.’ It was invented by Professor Gerard Mourou, a French pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and lasers, and a team of researchers at the University of Michigan in the USA where the license was issued. The inventors identified that ultrashort pulses are shorter than the time needed for most energy transfer processes within the material. Therefore deterministic, ultra-precise material processing could be realised. This method is sometimes referred to as 'cold' or ‘athermal’ machining.
Takashi Omitsu, president of IMRA, commented on the agreement: ‘We are gratified that Jenoptik has joined many other large laser companies that recognise the importance of intellectual property and particularly the strength of the ‘Mourou patent’. This patent has enabled ultrafast lasers to be used in an entirely new class of micromachining that has created new state-of-the-art products such as medical stents, electronic displays and fuel injection nozzles. This intellectual property is valuable to the laser community and such is best shared, with appropriate business agreements between companies.'
Dr Thomas Fehn, executive vice president of Jenoptik’s Lasers and Material Processing division, added: ‘Jenoptik appreciates the possibility to move aggressively into the area of ultrafast laser processing secured for our customers by this agreement. This matches well with the strategic road map of Jenoptik. The strategic partnership we have had with IMRA for a number of years adds value to our Lasers and Material Processing division.’