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Joint-Research Partnership Formed to Advance Gas Sensing Technologies

Newton, NJ – June 1, 2017 – Thorlabs is pleased to announce the establishment of PolySense, a joint industry-university research lab in the physics department at the Technical University in Bari, Italy, to focus on the research and development of innovative optical gas sensing systems. The move augments Thorlabs' current research collaborations with Vincenzo Spagnolo, an expert in optical gas sensing and associate professor at the Technical University in Bari. Professor Spagnolo will serve as the Director of PolySense.

The detection and measurement of trace gas concentrations is of importance in a variety of applications, including environmental monitoring of greenhouse gases, disease diagnosis, industrial process control analysis, and detection of toxic and flammable gases. The Spagnolo group has extensive experience with the quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy (QEPAS) technique, which uses a quartz tuning fork (QTF) as a detector for photo-acoustic signals. Using QEPAS, extremely small concentrations of potentially harmful gases (a few tens of parts per trillion) can be measured.

Starting from the QEPAS technique and employing Thorlabs' engineering resources and manufacturing expertise, the PolySense lab will endeavor to design and produce QTF designs, optimized for different operation conditions. These QTFs will be incorporated into jointly-designed acoustic detection modules to produce sensor prototypes for highly sensitive real-time measurements. The end goal is to provide portable solutions for in situ and real-time gas detection, leading to advancements in breath analysis, environmental monitoring, leaks detection, hydrocarbon gas sensing, and monitoring of toxic gases and explosive precursors.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with Professor Spagnolo's research group through this newly formed partnership," said Verena Mackowiak, Team Leader of Research Projects at Thorlabs GmbH. "We look forward to identifying innovative ideas and sharing expertise to make highly sensitive QEPAS-based trace-gas sensors more accessible to a broader community."

To support the newly formed strategic partnership, Thorlabs will provide the necessary instrumentation as well as technical staff and funding for both the research and personnel, while the university will provide the laboratory and office space as well as conduct the research.

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 laser diodes, optical amplifiers, lithium niobate modulators, quantum cascade/interband cascade lasers, 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.