New Director of the Central Laser Facility

New Director of the Central Laser Facility

News Update New Director P rofessor M. H. R. Hutchinson has recently been appointed to the post of Director, Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Rut...

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News Update New Director


rofessor M. H. R. Hutchinson has recently been appointed to the post of Director, Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. UK. The Central Laser Facility operates two leading highpowered lasers -~Vulcan and Titania-and also operates the Lasers for Science Facility (LSF). These lasers arc used by scientists in universities, research establishments and industry from the UK. Europe and elsewhere to carry out research in many areas of physics. chemistry and biology. The Vulcan laser in the CLF is a versatile multi-beam facility using neodymium glass lasers. Its ultra-short pulses generate extremely bright focal spots with intensities around 10” W cm-? Titania. on the other hand,




measuring ccurately visibility through fog, smoke and similar opaque media can be achieved. at reduced cost, with a simple but precise optical instrument from the Electra-Optics Division of Sira. The instrument has a range from 4 m to 2 km. Of interest to airport authorities, fire services and test laboratories requiring an objective measure of visibility through real or simulated conditions. the company’s transmissometer is claimed to be significantly lower in cost than comparable instruments available on already the market. In fact, Sira developed the instrument as part of a larger project, but is now looking to exploit its commercial potential. either by direct sales or

of the Central

Laser Facility

is claimed to be the world’s brightest ultraviolet krypton fluoride laser. Recent research includes investigations into the development and application of X-ray lasers, the study of the physics of inertial confinement fusion using high-power lasers and the fabrication of micrometrescale structures using laser generated X-rays. Professor Hutchinson has been director of the Blackett Laboratory Laser Consortium at Imperial College since its formation in 1987 and Professor of Laser Physics since 1989. He has been involved in research at the CLF for many years. both as a user and in the development of highpower laser systems. Rutlwfiwd Appleton Luhorcrtq’, Cl&on, Didcot. O.xford.rhiw OX1 I 0Q.Y. UK. Furs. +44 (c))1235 446 665



through a licensing agreement. According to Mark Aston, the Sira engineer in charge of the project, the instrument has already proved itself in field trials. ‘We needed a transmissometer for a project, but were disappointed with the cost of existing models. In the end, it was easier and cheaper to design and manufacture an instrument of our own,’ he explained; adding, ‘We have been delighted with the results.’ The transmissometer is capable of measuring visibility with a resolution of just 2 cm in dense fog or smoke. Visibility is defined as the distance at which a target can still be seen when it is 5% brighter than the ambient lighting level. Comprising a source unit and a detector unit, the instru-

Optics & Laser Technology Vol29 No 3 1997

Professor Henry Hutchinson took up his post as Director of the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory earlier this year

ment measures the amount of light passing between the two in the presence of scattering and absorbing media, such as fog, smoke, steam or exhaust gases. The instrument could be reconfigured easily to suit spe-

cific field-based applications.

or laboratory

Sirm Ltd, Electra-Optics Division, South Hill, Chi.&hurst, Kent BR: 5EH, UK. Fus. +44 iO)lXI 467 6.515: http:// ,

Sira’s simple low-cost transmissometer gives a precise and objective measure of visibility through fog, steam, smoke or exhaust gases. It has a range of 4 m to 2 km and a resolution of 2 cm