Can laser gas sensing deeply impact our daily lives? Within the project WideLase, scientists and engineers from across Europe joined forces to develop a new generation of laser based sensor systems with direct benefits for society and the well-being and health of our population.

WideLase started in 2012, supported by the European Commission's 7th Framework programme. The European level was essential to obtain access to the range and quality of personnel, technical expertise and resources required to tackle the various research challenges of the project.

Three important applications have successfully been realized in the project:

  • For traffic control, a novel sensor developed by partner Airoptic (www.airoptic.pl), transmits an eye safe laser beam through the passenger compartment of a driving car in order to measure the concentration of alcohol vapor in the breath exhaled.
  • Another application by Airoptic is a formaldehyde detection system for on-line monitoring during wood board manufacturing. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen which can be found in everyday pressed wood products such as furniture.
  • The application investigated by Norsk Elektro Optikk (www.neo.no) concerns the detection of potential leakage from aerosol cans - a legal prerequisite for their sale. At present the most commonly used method is to dip the cans into a hot water bath and check for bubbles. As desired by industrial users, within WideLase an elegant solution based on a contactless passing-by optical measurement has been developed to replace this inconvenient and time-consuming procedure.

Consortium partners Nanoplus and Mach8 Lasers investigated two highly innovative concepts for application-grade, compact, rugged and cost effective widely tuneable lasers in the mid infrared, required for the development of the three sensor systems.

The success of the project’s industrial partners was only made possible by a tremendous support from the academic partners at the University of Würzburg and Wroclaw University of Technology laying the project foundation by design, growth and characterization of novel semiconductor laser structures.

WideLase has created durable links between European industries and academia and will contribute to maintain European competitiveness at an industrial level, bringing Europe ahead of competition in important emerging markets.

Project
Monolithic Widely Tunable Interband Cascade Lasers for Safety and Security
Project Acronym
Widelase
Project website