29 Apr UW prof makes laser for scanning lots of information at once
Madison — University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Scott Sanders has discovered a way to make a laser shine in not one but a rainbow of colors, and to deliver the colors one at a time so they can be used for scanning objects.
Researchers can derive information about a material based on its sensitivity to different colors. This laser system allows them to try a full range of colors at once.
Filters already existed that could make “white” lasers that incorporate a full spectrum of colors; Sanders’ contribution was a way of making the different colors arrive separately instead of at the same time so that they can be individually detected.
A possible commercial application is in better data storage. CD drives now have to spin discs rapidly, with a single laser beam that reads data from different parts of the disc as it rotates by.
“Currently, we wait for the CD to move around past the laser, so we’re waiting for some mechanical motion,” Sanders said. “To get to a new spot on the CD, we have to wait for the CD to move. With our system, each color can be directed to a different direction, and the color can change much faster than anything mechanical.”
Sanders is patenting the system through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the university’s patenting and licensing arm.
• Read the UW-Madison article