Spectrum Detector

NIST and Spectrum Detector Team Up to Commercialize Highly Accurate Optical Trap Detectors

Spectrum Detector, Inc, a small company based in Oregon, has successfully commercialized devices known as Optical TRAP Detectors that can be used to precisely measure the power of a laser, thanks to basic research done at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. A group of researchers at NIST seamlessly transferred the basic design, assembly, operational knowledge, and testing of the detectors to the company.

In 2008, the NIST group and Spectrum Detector were awarded a Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer based on the commercialization of these detectors.

Dr. John Lehman led the NIST group that worked with Spectrum Detector CEO Don Dooley and his colleagues as Spectrum Detector developed a family of user-friendly models of these accurate, low uncertainty calibration standard detectors. The Optical TRAP detectors are intended for use by metrology organizations to measure laser output at companies that manufacture lasers, integrate lasers into their products, or use laser power meters to test lasers. They provide a precise means of calibrating the output power of their sources with uncertainty as low as 0.05%. These devices can improve optical metrology in medical, fiber optic telecommunications, microelectronics, and defense industries, among others.

The Optical TRAP instruments can easily be incorporated directly into already existing laser systems. These products, which come with user friendly software, are simply connected to a computer, allowing easy and accurate ‘in-house’ measurement and calibration of laser power.

Nearly 25 companies have bought the detectors to date. While the market for this technology primarily consists of metrology professionals, the impacts of these highly accurate detectors are far-reaching. From hospital equipment to manufacturing plants, lasers have a wide variety of applications. Any time the power of these lasers must be known and calibrated, the TRAP detectors can be used to ensure this calibration is performed quickly and accurately.

Dooley and his colleagues at Spectrum Detector continue to collaborate with NIST Boulder on Small Business Innovation Research projects and have developed many specialized optical instruments for NIST Gaithersburg.