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Few-Mode Whispering-Gallery-Mode Resonators

Simple structures function similarly to single-mode optical fibers. Whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonators of a type now under development are designed to support few welldefined waveguide modes. In the simplest case, a resonator of this type would support one equatorial family of WGMs; in a more complex case, such a resonator would be made to support two, three, or some other specified finite number of modes. Such a resonator can be made of almost any transparent material commonly used in optics. The nature of the supported modes does not depend on which material is used, and the geometrical dispersion of this resonator is much smaller than that of a typical prior WGM resonator. Moreover, in principle, many such resonators could be fabricated as integral parts of a single chip.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Detection of Water Hazards for Autonomous Robotic Vehicles

Four methods of optoelectronic detection complement each other. Four methods of detection of bodies of water are under development as means to enable autonomous robotic ground vehicles to avoid water hazards when traversing off-road terrain. The methods involve processing of digitized outputs of optoelectronic sensors aboard the vehicles. It is planned to implement these methods in hardware and software that would operate in conjunction with the hardware and software for navigation and for avoidance of solid terrain obstacles and hazards.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Monitoring Temperatures of Tires Using Luminescent Materials

Hot spots are detected and monitored as indications of local damage. A method of noncontact, optical monitoring of the surface temperature of a tire has been devised to enable the use of local temperature rise as an indication of potential or impending failures. The method involves the use of temperature-sensitive paint (or filler): Temperature-sensitive luminescent dye molecules or other luminescent particles are incorporated into a thin, flexible material coating the tire surface of interest. (Alternatively, in principle, the luminescent material could be incorporated directly into the tire rubber, though this approach has not yet been tested.) The coated surface is illuminated with shorter-wavelength light to excite longer-wavelength luminescence, which is observed by use of a charge-coupled-device camera or a photodetector (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Polarization Phase-Compensating Coats for Metallic Mirrors

A method of compensating for or minimizing phase differences between orthogonal polarizations of light reflected from metallic mirrors at oblique incidence, as, for example, from weakly curved mirrors, is undergoing development. The method is intended to satisfy a need to maintain precise polarization phase relationships or minimum polarization differences needed for proper operation of telescopes and other scientific instruments that include single or multiple mirrors. The basic idea of the method is to optimally coat mirrors with thin engineered layers of materials that introduce phase differences that, as nearly precisely as possible, are opposite of the undesired phase differences arising in reflection with non-optimum coatings. Depending on the specific optical system, the method could involve any or all of the following elements: Optimization of a single coat on all the mirrors in the system. Optimization of a unique coat for each mirror such that the polarization phase effects of the coat on one mirror compensate, to an acceptably high degree over an acceptably wide wavelength range, for those of the coat on another mirror. Tapering the coat on each mirror.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Tunable-Bandwidth Filter System

Pass bands can be tuned rapidly across the visible and near infrared spectrum. A tunable-bandwidth filter system (TBFS), now undergoing development, is intended to be part of a remote-sensing multispectral imaging system that will operate in the visible and near infrared spectral region (wavelengths from 400 to 900 nm). Attributes of the TBFS include rapid tunability of the pass band over a wide wavelength range and high transmission efficiency. The TBFS is based on a unique integration of two pairs of broadband Raman reflection holographic filters with two rotating spherical lenses. In experiments, a prototype of the TBFS was shown to be capable of spectral sampling of images in the visible range over a 200-nm spectral range with a spectral resolution of ˜30 nm.

Posted in: Briefs

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Plasma-Based Detector of Outer-Space Dust Particles

A report presents a concept for an instrument to be flown in outer space, where it would detect dust particles — especially those associated with comets. The instrument would include a flat plate that would intercept the dust particles. The anticipated spacecraft/dust-particle relative speeds are so high that the impingement of a dust particle on the plate would generate a plasma cloud. Simple electric dipole sensors located equidistantly along the circumference of the plate would detect the dust particle indirectly by detecting the plasma cloud. The location of the dust hit could be estimated from the timing of the detection pulses of the different dipoles. The mass and composition of the dust particle could be estimated from the shapes and durations of the pulses from the dipoles. In comparison with other instruments for detecting hypervelocity dust particles, the proposed instrument offers advantages of robustness, large collection area, and simplicity.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Holographic Solar Photon Thrusters

A document discusses a proposal to incorporate holographic optical elements into solar photon thrusters (SPTs). First suggested in 1990, SPTs would be systems of multiple reflective, emissive, and absorptive surfaces (solar sails) that would be attached to spacecraft orbiting the Earth to derive small propulsive forces from radiation pressures. An SPT according to the proposal would include, among other things, a main sail. One side of the sail would be highly emissive and would normally face away from the Earth. The other side would be reflective and would be covered by white-light holographic images that would alternately become reflective, transmissive, and absorptive with small changes in the viewing angle. When the spacecraft was at a favorable orbital position, the main sail would be oriented to reflect sunlight in a direction to maximize the solar thrust; when not in a favorable position, the main sail would be oriented to present a substantially absorptive/emissive aspect to minimize the solar drag. By turning the main sail slightly to alternate between the reflective and absorptive/emissive extremes, one could achieve nearly a doubling or halving of the radiational momentum transfer and, hence, of the solar thrust.

Posted in: Briefs

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