Special Coverage


Analog Signal Conditioning for Accurate Measurements

By Jon Titus Q: Should I put some sort of circuit between my sensor and an analog-to-digital converter? A:Yes. You probably need some signal conditioning. The explanation below goes on for a bit, but stay with it and you'll understand what you need and why you need it. Before you make any connections, get the electrical specifications for the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and for the sensor or sensors in your system. Let's assume the data-acquisition module uses a Maxim Integrated Products MAX197 12-bit ADC. This device can accept eight differential (2-wire) inputs or 16 single-ended (1-wire) inputs. Maxim's specifications show an input impedance of 21 kohms for single-ended inputs and 16 kohms for differential inputs.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, White Papers


Space-Based Instrument Monitors Plant Health

A new space‑based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves, or transpiration. ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration, from the International Space Station.

Posted in: Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, Aerospace, News


3D Printing and the Future of Manufacturing

3D printing is transforming the manufacturing industry in big ways. From realized design freedom to supply chain efficiencies, 3D printing is contributing largely to the recent upswing in reshoring manufacturing in North America. Read the latest white paper from Stratasys Service Bureaus to learn how 3D printing will continue to transform the industry in the coming years.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, White Papers


Will "4D" materials catch on?

This week's Question: While 3D printing has still not yet reached the mainstream, MIT and other researchers are performing primary tests on the next design dimension. 4D printing, a self-assembly design process, enables the production of composite materials that react and change shape in predictable ways when exposed to external elements such as water. A printed rear wing, for example, would have the ability to transform its aerodynamics during a downpour. Autonomous pipes, too, could expand and narrow based on flow. Self-assembling technologies may eventually allow the construction of space structures whose components deposit themselves in zero-gravity environments without human intervention. Wood and carbon fibers have responded well to 4D testing, but more materials and energy sources are likely required for the materials to self‑optimize according to sensing and logic. What do you think? Will "4D" materials catch on?

Posted in: Question of the Week


Industry Roundtable: Imaging Technology

Few technologies have impacted the scientific community – and non-scientific community for that matter – as much as digital imaging technology. From exotic, high-speed imaging systems to rugged machine vision systems to a vast array of sophisticated consumer devices, digital cameras are everywhere these days, documenting every aspect of this world we live and work in. Photonics Tech Briefs recently spoke with executives from four well-known imaging companies to get their perspectives on where imaging technology is today, and where it is going in the future.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles


Ruggedized Displays Improve Automotive Safety

Navigation and entertainment screens in cars are becoming ever-larger and, in some cases, the central control point for drivers and passengers. Many manufacturers consider using glass to cover the displays. It gives the same pleasing surface feel and high-quality look that users of tablets and smartphones have come to expect. However, glass also bears the additional risk that in the event of a crash it may splinter and injure the occupants.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs


Product of the Month: Laser Illumination System

Specialised Imaging (Herts., UK), working in conjunction with Cavitar (Tampere, Finland), has announced the SI LUX640 laser illumination system, designed to improve the accuracy and sensitivity of high-speed video, ultra-high-speed framing cameras, Schleiren imaging, and Shadowgraph systems.

Posted in: Products, Photonics