Thorlabs, an optical equipment company based in Newton, NJ, recently announced their acquisition of the business assets of Crystalline Mirror Solutions, LLC (CMS). CMS was a startup company focusing on low-noise reflective optics whose technology portfolio included a UNM technology developed by Dr. Mansoor Sheik-Bahae, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and his team, at the University of New Mexico (UNM). The technology provides an advanced design as a solution to fully power-scale vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VECSELs) while thermally managing the device. This technology has now been transferred to Thorlabs for further developments.
Dr. Sheik-Bahae joined the UNM faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1994 and has since made key theoretical and experimental contributions for the field of solid-state laser cooling. His current research activities are focused in the areas of laser cooling in solids; ultrafast phenomena, nonlinear optics; and optically pumped semiconductor disk lasers.
In 2009, Dr. Sheik-Bahae and his team reported the first laser cooling in solids to cryogenic temperatures. In 2011, Dr. Sheik-Bahae received gap funding from STC for this technology. The research results, demonstrating optical refrigeration as the only current solid-state cooling technology with clear advantages over existing cooling technologies, were published in the prestigious journal Nature Photonics. The UNM results were hailed as a breakthrough for presenting the first demonstration of an all-solid-state cryocooler. Other scientific contributions include invention of the Z-scan technique to measure optical nonlinearities of materials; development of a quantum mechanical theory for predicting ultrafast electronic optical nonlinear coefficients of semiconductors. He holds several issued and pending patents.
See Thorlabs’ December 12, 2019 press release, “Thorlabs Adds Crystalline Coating Capability,” from the Thorlabs website at https://www.thorlabs.com/PressReleases.cfm?ReleaseID=111 and reprinted below.
Thorlabs Adds Crystalline Coating Capability
Newton, NJ and Santa Barbara, CA – December 12, 2019 – Thorlabs announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the business assets of Crystalline Mirror Solutions (CMS). CMS has pioneered the development of substrate-transferred single-crystal optical coatings. Mirrors fabricated with this proprietary direct-bonding process are capable of greater than 99.999% reflectivity and less than 5 ppm scattering and absorption losses. The single-crystal nature of these coatings provides orders-of-magnitude performance improvements that are attractive in a variety of demanding applications such as trace gas detection, laser-based material processing, optical clock optimization, spatial sensing solutions, and quantum optics.
By combining advanced semiconductor microfabrication techniques with bulk optics technology, CMS has developed single crystal GaAs/AlGaAs-based coatings that provide three key performance advantages over state-of-the-art IBS-deposited dielectric multilayers: dramatically improved thermal noise performance, overcoming the linewidth limitations of cavity-stabilized laser systems; lower mid-IR absorption, yielding higher resolution for trace gas detection of key molecules with signatures in the mid-IR spectral regime; and significantly enhanced thermal conductivity, thus meeting the heat dissipation requirements sought after by high-power laser manufacturers. The crystalline coatings developed by CMS are typically 5 mm to 200 mm in diameter but can be any size or arbitrary shape with bonding to any planar, convex, or concave surface with a radius-of curvature as tight as 10 cm. Additionally, the coatings can be engineered with any center wavelengths from 900 nm to greater than 5000 nm.
“We are pleased to participate in the continued advancement of laser-based manufacturing and precision optical metrology and instrumentation through the addition of these high-reflectivity optical coatings to the Thorlabs portfolio,” said Alex Cable, President and CEO of Thorlabs. “At the same time, we will seek to leverage this new competency to enhance our current product offering and development efforts.”
“We are thrilled to become part of the Thorlabs family,” says Dr. Garrett Cole, Co-Founder and CEO of Crystalline Mirror Solutions LLC, “and, looking ahead, see a bright future for substrate-transferred single-crystal interference coatings in applications requiring the ultimate levels of optical and thermo-mechanical performance. This acquisition brings an entirely new set of opportunities for our unique and unrivaled technology.”
“Combining the crystalline coating and direct bonding expertise of CMS with the global reach and vertically-integrated manufacturing capabilities of Thorlabs, equips the world’s leading photonics company with the world’s best laser mirrors,” adds Jörg Nowack, CEO of Crystalline Mirror Solutions GmbH. “Going forward, a wider range of scientific and especially industrial applications across a much larger customer base will benefit from the game-changing performance enabled by the optical coatings that CMS has invented and pioneered.”
Thorlabs intends to maintain the crystalline coating business at its current facility in Santa Barbara, forming a new group, Thorlabs Crystalline Solutions (TCS), which will be part of Thorlabs’ Optics Business Unit in Newton, NJ. For more information on the crystalline coating technologies, please visit www.thorlabs.com or contact Dr. Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Crystalline Mirror Solutions: Founded in Vienna, Austria in 2013 by Garrett Cole and Markus Aspelmeyer, Crystalline Mirror Solutions (CMS) manufactures low-noise reflective optics using a proprietary substrate-transfer coating technology. These single-crystal “semiconductor supermirrors” are utilized in ultraprecise optical clocks, precision interferometry, spectroscopy, as well as solutions for thermal management in high-power lasers and laser machining systems. A spin-off of the University of Vienna and the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology, CMS quickly expanded to include a site in Santa Barbara, California. In addition to the Prism Award, CMS has received a number of high-profile technology awards such as the Leibinger Innovation Award, the AMA Innovation Award, and various national and international start-up prizes. The near- and mid-infrared supermirror technology developed by CMS and employed in these efforts was initially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the European Research Council, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), and the Pre-Seed and Seed Financing programs of Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws). From 2016/17, CMS has been backed by several external (angel and VC) investors, including an investment vehicle of renowned international (and still proudly Austrian) businessman, Hermann Hauser.
About Thorlabs: Thorlabs, a vertically integrated photonics products manufacturer, was founded in 1989 to serve the laser and electro-optics research market. As that market has spawned a multitude of technical innovations, Thorlabs has extended its core competencies in an effort to play an ever-increasing role serving the Photonics Industry at the research end, as well as the industrial, life science, medical, and defense segments. The organization’s highly integrated and diverse manufacturing assets include semiconductor fabrication of Fabry-Perot, DFB, and VCSEL lasers; fiber towers for drawing both silica and fluoride glass optical fibers; MBE/MOCVD epitaxial wafer growth reactors; extensive glass and metal fabrication facilities; advanced thin film deposition capabilities; and optomechanical and optoelectronic shops.