Ursula Keller – Insights on Inventions, Patents, and Patent Applications

Ursula Keller is a Swiss inventor and in her career filled with achievements and awards, she has created several breakthroughs in optoelectronics. Her work in ultrafast lasers has become a crucial standard for many industries, ranging from automotive to communication, medical surgery, and in laser industry itself.

Keller finished her doctorate in Physics and Engineering in Applied Physics. Shortly after in 1989, she became a Member of Technical Staff (MTS) at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she started her research on photonic switching and ultra-fast lasers.

Keller’s most known inventions include Attoclock – A device that can measure an unfathomably short amount of time down to a few attoseconds and Semiconductor saturable-absorber mirror (SESAM) which enables produce extremely short bursts of lasers, ranging in duration from picoseconds (10-12 seconds) to femtoseconds (10-15 seconds).

Cool trivia: 1 attosecond is one-billionth of 1 second or 1×10-18 seconds. One attosecond compares to one second approximately as one second to the age of the universe.

Such precision is a game-changer medical industry, particularly for laser eye surgeries and cutting cancerous tissues out safely.

After her tenure at AT&T in 1993, she joined ETH Zurich as appointed professor and she has continued her research on precise scientific measuring equipment down to quantum levels and SESAM. And since 2010, she has been the Director of the Swiss National Research Centre for Ultra-fast Molecular Sciences and Technologies.

Ursula Keller’s professional journey

  • ETH Zurich (Mar 1993 – Present, as a Professor)
  • NCCR MUST (Jun 2010 – Present, as a Director)
  • FDP Canton (Mar 2019 – Present, as a candidate of National Council FDP)
  • AT&T Labs Inc (1989 – 1993, as a Member of Technical Staff)

Ursula Keller’s List of Honor and Awards

  • SPIE Gold Medal, 2020 (This is the highest honor of SPIE, and is considered as one of the highest awards in the fields of photonics and optical engineering and related instrumental sciences)
  • IEEE Edison Medal, 2019(A career of meritorious achievement in electrical science, electrical engineering, or the electrical arts)
  • IEEE Photonics Award, 2018(Outstanding achievements in photonics)
  • European Inventor Award 2018 for laser technology in the category “Lifetime achievement.
  • Weizmann Women and Science Award in 2017

Ursula Keller’s Patents

Ursula Keller’s patent portfolio has 80 patents that belong to 22 unique patent families. We have used the below exhibits to highlight the key statistics of Ursula Keller’s patent portfolio.

Technology Distribution

The patent count in the exhibit below is calculated by including only one patent from each patent family. A patent family can have multiple patent documents – filed globally or in a single country – covering a single invention.

The exhibit below distributes Ursula Keller’s patents into active and inactive categories which are further divided into total, application, and granted parts. In Keller’s portfolio, 16 patents are still active while 64 patents are inactive.

Worldwide Patents

Patent Family

Country Wise Patent Filing

The patent count in the exhibit below is calculated by including each family member of a patent family. A patent family can have multiple patent documents – filed globally or in a single country – covering a single invention.

An Interesting Patent

One patent that stands out in Ursula Keller’s portfolio is US6834064B1. It has been cited 75 times by Coherent Inc, Quantum-Si Inc, and OptoMAK. The patent has family members in the United States, Germany, and Austria.

If a technology/patent is cited by a lot of other patents, it implies that the technology is being followed and incrementally innovated by a lot of companies. This indicates the importance of a patent. Furthermore, it also indicates that citing companies are working on similar and closely related technologies.

Updated on March 8, 2021

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