Broadband External Cavity Diode Laser
Inventor: Daniel Kane
Day job: Optical physicist, Southwest Sciences, Inc.; President, Mesa Photonics
Favorite all-time invention: The transistor.
How his invention could affect our lives: It provides better imaging of arteries than ultrasound, so it could help identify problem spots that cause heart attacks and strokes
What the actual patent says: “An external cavity laser and a method of generating laser light via an external cavity laser…”
Meet the inventor: In an anonymous, generic office building on Pacheco Street, Dan Kane plays with lasers. Last July, he (along with Jeffrey S Pilgrim) received a patent for a device that can create 3-D images of organisms’ innards, sending beams through the skin that bounce off arteries and create a sharp image—not unlike a depth finder used in fishing boats.
Don’t expect to be hooked up to Kane’s product next time you get a physical, though. The technology, he says, is not that far along yet.
“We’d like to license this,” he says, standing in the cavernous lab at Southwest Sciences, Inc., where he works part time. “[But] it’s still a little too developey for investors.”
Money woes have slowed Kane’s project to a standstill and he says that is partly the fault of the federal government.
“In 2000,” he says, “the quality of research coming out of the United States was better than everyone. At this, point, Europe is ahead. If we don’t start having more investment in research, we’ll be a second-class nation.”