Precision laser technology for quantum physicists

3 minute read

Two pieces of high tech equipment . It says moglabs diode laser controller

MOGLabs designs and supplies high-performance laser technology to research labs worldwide. The company was founded by University of Melbourne researchers.

Key points

  • MOGLabs designs high-performance laser technology for researchers in quantum science and technology.
  • Researchers need sophisticated instrumentation but often lack the time or skill to build it.
  • MOGLabs develops its products using existing knowledge from optics, physics and related fields.

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The outcome

MOG Laboratories Pty Ltd (MOGLabs) fills a gap in the provision of high-performance laser technology for researchers in quantum physics.

Through a process of incremental innovation, MOGLabs has developed easy-to-use and affordable technology. Its products include tunable lasers, laser electronics and instrumentation, optical amplifiers, radio frequency synthesisers and laser wavelength measurement devices.

The company was founded by University of Melbourne researchers in 2007. It is based in Carlton, Victoria, and has sales offices in the USA and Germany.

The need

Tunable lasers are used in many research and industrial applications in quantum science and technology. Examples include computing and simulation, atomic clocks, imaging, sensing and measurement, and communications.

Sophisticated electronics are needed to control the power, temperature and wavelength of these lasers. Building this instrumentation is difficult and time-consuming for researchers. Until MOGLabs entered the market, commercially available products were expensive and hard to find.

MOGLabs currently supplies its products to research labs. The market for MOGLabs products is expected to grow as applications for quantum science and technology expand into diverse sectors. These include data security; banking and telecommunications; defence and aerospace; civil engineering; and natural resource exploration (for example, ultrasensitive measurements of gravity using ultra-cold atoms to detect mineral deposits).

The research

In 2004, dissatisfied with commercially available laser instrumentation, Professor Robert Scholten from the School of Physics began to make his own. His devices included all the electronics necessary to operate a research-quality tunable laser.

Rather than inventing novel technology, Professor Scholten used existing knowledge from optics and physics to create high-precision instrumentation for fellow researchers. He and his University of Melbourne colleague, electrical engineer Mr Aleksander Slavec, also borrowed from related fields. For example, they adopted aspects of high-fidelity audio technology to eliminate the noise that can adversely affect laser performance.

Technology development history

Professor Scholten and Mr Slavec launched MOGLabs in 2007.

Under a three-year licensing deal with the University of Melbourne, the pair provided their own funding, making the devices in their homes and selling them to research laboratories worldwide. The University then transferred the intellectual property to MOGLabs, which continues to develop the instrumentation.

MOGLabs has been awarded more than $A1.2 million over three Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project grants to further develop and commercialise its laser technology. It is also a participating member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQuS), which was launched in 2017 with $A31.9 million funding over 7 years. MOGLabs is an industry partner with the University of Melbourne in two Innovation Connections grants, part of the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

Professor Scholten is the Managing Director of MOGLabs, and he continues his research in the Atom Optics Group in the School of Physics.

Funding support

ARC Linkage Project (LP130100857)

ARC Linkage Project (LP150101188)

ARC Linkage Project (LP180100332)

Australian Government Innovation Connections grants


Daniel J. Thompson and Robert E. Scholten. Narrow linewidth tunable external cavity diode laser using wide bandwidth filter. Review of Scientific Instruments, 83(2):–, 2012.

JD White and RE Scholten, Compact diffraction grating laser wavemeter with sub-picometer accuracy and picowatt sensitivity using a webcam imaging sensor, Review of Scientific Instruments, 83 113104 (2012). doi: 10.1063/1.4765744

Hawthorn CJ et al (2001) Littrow configuration tunable external cavity diode laser with fixed direction output beam. Review of Scientific Instruments 72(12): 4477–4479. doi: 10.1063/1.1419217

P. J. Fox, R. E. Scholten, M. R. Walkiewicz, and R. E. Drullinger. A reliable, compact, and low-cost Michelson wavemeter for laser wavelength measurement. Am. J. Phys., 67(7):624–630, 1999.

Image: MOGLabs


Professor Robert Scholten

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