Innovative Ultrafast Laser Solutions

Innovative Ultrafast Laser Solutions

Clark-MXR, Inc. was incorporated in October of 1992 as a Michigan company to acquire the assets of two other operating companies: Clark Instrumentation, Inc. in Pittsford, New York and MXR, Inc. in Dexter, Michigan.

Clark Instrumentation, Inc. (CII) was founded in November 1987 by Dr. Bill Clark to make ultrafast pulse laser instrumentation for the scientific research market. Its first product was a Colliding Pulse, Mode-locked Dye Laser (CPM) that produced sub-100 fs pulses at a wavelength of 618 nm with a repetition rate of 100 MHz and an average power output of 20 mW. By 1990, CII had three main commercial products: the CPM, a dye-based multipass amplifier, and an autocorrelator. All sales, marketing, and manufacturing was done out of the Pittsford, NY office.

At the CLEO conference in 1990, Professor Wilson Sibbett of St. Andrews University in Scotland, gave his now-famous invited paper in which he stunned the laser community with his report of stable self-mode-locking in Ti:Sapphire. Following this report, CII committed itself to the commercial development of a mode-locked Ti:Sapphire oscillator based on its CPM cavity design. The company was the first to announce a commercial self-mode-locked Ti:Sapphire laser oscillator in the December 1990 issue of Laser Focus World. It delivered the first commercial Ti:Sapphire oscillator in June of 1991.

Paralleling the evolution of CII was the development of the progenitor to Medox Research; a company called Medox Electro-optics, Inc. Medox E/O was started in 1986 as a New York Corporation based in Rochester, NY by Drs. Philippe Bado, Marcel Bouvier, and Gerard Mourou, three scientists who, at the time, were working at the University of Rochester. The company's main product was a Pockels Cell Driver based on a microwave tube. (A Pockel Cell is used to switch in and switch out a seed pulse in an amplifier and is an integral component to chirped pulse amplifier technology that had been invented in Professor Mourou's group). Medox E/O and its staff moved to Ann Arbor when Dr. Mourou started The Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) at the University of Michigan.

In 1991 Philippe Bado started Medox Research (MXR) to develop a kHz commercial Ti:Sapphire Amplifier based on the concept of chirped pulse amplification (CPA). Shortly after Philippe founded MXR, Philippe and Bill began discussing a collaboration to satisfy the growing market interest in a complete CPA system. For a little over a year, CII served as the sales and marketing representative for the two separate companies, selling complete systems with the oscillator and autocorrelator made by CII and the regenerative amplifier made by MXR. It was during this period that it became apparent to both Bill and Philippe that the two companies had similar goals and complementary strengths, and so they decided to merge the two companies into one, forming Clark-MXR, Inc. in 1992.

Since their inception, these companies have lead the field with the introduction of many ultrafast laser products.