Our first customer
Our first customer
It is an unforgettable moment in the existence of a newly founded company to close the first business contract. Even more so, when this marks the beginning of a long and flourishing relationship between the two parties.
In December 2001, Menlo Systems provided its first optical frequency synthesizer based on a titanium-doped sapphire laser to the lab of Dr. Michael Matus, Head of the Section Dimensional Metrology at the Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen (Federal Office of Metrology and Surveying, BEV) in Vienna, Austria. This was the first successful implementation of laser calibration based on the optical frequency comb at a national metrology institute. Currently, more than 60 Menlo Systems optical frequency combs serve at the national metrology institutes of 28 countries. Over the years, further supplies followed to the BEV as well, among them the fiber-based FC1500-250-WG for calibration of helium-neon lasers in length metrology, the FC1500-250-ULN ultra-low noise optical frequency comb and the ORS ultra-stable laser, both serving in time and frequency metrology. In 2018, Dr. Matus took part in a campaign where a Menlo SmartComb went on tour to the metrology institutes in Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic with the aim to calibrate different types of lasers.
Here's what Dr. Matus says about Menlo:
“In BEV we were facing growing demands to calibrate so called green (543 nm) frequency stabilized HeNe-lasers. The only way back then was to build a specialized iodine stabilized laser (not an easy task) and take part in international comparisons (very time consuming).
2001 was the year when my second daughter was born. Although being quite busy with parental responsibilities and everyday work, I stumbled over some papers by T. Hänsch and R. Holzwarth and recognized that T. Hänsch, R. Holzwarth, and M. Mei meanwhile have founded a company named Menlo Systems selling optical frequency combs. These instruments would be perfect to calibrate frequencies of various lasers without the hassle to operate different setups for each wavelength.
At the end of this year I convinced my management about the key benefits, and more important, we also had a spare budget for this investment. Being a governmental organization the BEV had to spend the budget by December 31st, 2001 latest, on the other hand it was clear Menlo could not deliver in such short time. It needs some efforts at persuasion to trust a newly founded startup and eventually we transferred the money on December 15th. Luckily we were not disappointed! In fact BEV managed to be the very first institute to offer laser frequency calibrations to interested customers based on the FC8003/01 optical frequency comb from Menlo Systems (covered by a quality infrastructure). After 20 years, the very first comb delivered by Menlo is no longer in service; naturally being the no. 1 unit ever delivered it was not the most user-friendly system to operate – still we managed to operate it successfully for many years and it served its purpose very well. Over the years it has been replaced with two later models of optical frequency combs with additional features by Menlo Systems and over all the years it has been a very fruitful collaboration. I am happy to say that we can be considered as a satisfied customer!”