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Digital Camera Technology for Today’s Industrial Imaging Applications

Machine vision requirements for better performance and higher resolution continue driving developers to incorporate digital cameras into their solutions. This trend will likely accelerate as the price and performance of digital cameras improves. This article will provide you with information on digital camera technology and key factors to consider when choosing a digital camera and associated frame grabber — assuming that all upfront analysis has been performed and that a digital imaging solution is required.

Posted in: Articles

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Program Analyzes Spacecraft/Ground Radio Links

A versatile computer program analyzes the link-design control table necessary for designing the telecommunication subsystem of a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth or on a deep-space mission. The program helps to calculate all the important parameter values for spacecraft-to-ground telemetry links and ground-to-spacecraft command links. The program also enables the design of turn-around ranging and one-way ranging links, which are very useful for determining the positions of spacecraft and for satisfying various other operational needs. The user can specify several aspects of spacecraft telecommunication- subsystem design, including the nature of the antenna (paraboloidal reflector, patch, dipole, etc.), the power-amplifier rating, and the link data rate.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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Six-Message Electromechanical Display System

This system would overcome the three-message limit of prior such systems. A proposed electromechanical display system would be capable of presenting as many as six distinct messages. This system would be a more capable and more complex successor to the proposed system reported in “Four-Message Electromechanical Display System” (MFS-31368), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 24, No. 4 (April 2000), page 32. In contrast to the now-proposed six-message system and the previously proposed four-message system, a typical conventional electromechanical display system is limited to three messages.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Compact Packaging of Photonic Millimeter-Wave Receiver

Bulky positioning mechanisms are not needed A carrier structure made from a single silicon substrate is the basis of a compact, lightweight, relatively inexpensive package that holds the main optical/electronic coupling components of a photonic millimeter- wave receiver based on a lithium niobate resonator disk. The design of the package is simple and provides for precise relative placement of optical components, eliminating the need for complex, bulky positioning mechanisms like those commonly used to align optical components to optimize focus and coupling. Although a prototype of the package was fabricated as a discrete unit, the design is amenable to integration of the package into a larger photonic and/or electronic receiver system.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences

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Fabrication of Submillimeter Axisymmetric Optical Components

Surfaces of components can be arbitrarily shaped to optimize spectral responses. It is now possible to fashion transparent crystalline materials into axisymmetric optical components having diameters ranging from hundreds down to tens of micrometers, whereas previously, the smallest attainable diameter was 500 m. A major step in the fabrication process that makes this possible can be characterized as diamond turning or computer numerically controlled machining on an ultrahigh-precision lathe. This process affords the flexibility to make arbitrary axisymmetric shapes that have various degrees of complexity: examples include a flat disk or a torus supported by a cylinder (see figure), or multiple closely axially spaced disks or tori supported by a cylinder. Such optical components are intended mainly for use as whispering-gallery- mode optical resonators in diverse actual and potential applications, including wavelength filtering, modulation, photonic generation and detection of microwaves, and research in quantum electrodynamics and quantum optics.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Wide-Band, High-Quantum-Efficiency Photodetector

This device could detect single photons. A design has been proposed for a photodetector that would exhibit a high quantum efficiency (as much as 90 percent) over a wide wavelength band, which would typically be centered at a wavelength of 1.55 μm. This and similar photodetectors would afford a capability for detecting single photons — a capability that is needed for research in quantum optics as well as for the practical development of secure optical communication systems for distribution of quantum cryptographic keys.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences

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Diffractive Combiner of Single-Mode Pump Laser-Diode Beams

Multiple beams can be combined without inducing multifrequency lasing. An optical beam combiner now under development would make it possible to use the outputs of multiple single-mode laser diodes to pump a neodymium: yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) non-planar ring oscillator (NPRO) laser while ensuring that the laser operates at only a single desired frequency. Heretofore, an Nd:YAG NPRO like the present one has been pumped by a single multimode laser-diode beam delivered via an optical fiber. It would be desirable to use multiple pump laser diodes to increase reliability beyond that obtainable from a single pump laser diode. However, as explained below, simplistically coupling multiple multimode laser-diode beams through a fiber-optic combiner would entail a significant reduction in coupling efficiency, and lasing would occur at one or more other frequencies in addition to the single desired frequency.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences

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