Special Coverage


The Next Mars Journey

The next rover NASA will send to Mars in 2020 will carry seven instruments to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet. The instruments were selected recently from 58 proposals from researchers and engineers worldwide. The Mars 2020 mission will be based on the design of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Posted in: UpFront


Product of the Month: September 2014

Dewetron, Wakefield, RI, has introduced the TrendCorder series of instruments designed for basic data acquisition applications in industry. They feature intuitive, multi-touch operation, enabling them to be operated 100% by touch, including alphanumeric entry, channel setup, and display configuration. When the instrument is turned on, an app loads and shows incoming data immediately. The DejaVIEW™ feature enables a user to scroll back on the recorder graph to any place in the recording, and pinch/zoom on the graph to see any detail, no matter how far back in time, without interrupting current recording. This is designed for operators conducting long-term testing that cannot be interrupted. The instruments feature a 15.4" wide aspect multi-touch display, and data is streamed continuously to disk at rates up to 200 MB/s. The TrendCorder has four slots for TRION series plug-in modules. Three 6-channel modules are included in the TRC-18, with one slot free; the TRC-6 has one 6-channel module, with three slots free. The system weighs 18.7 pounds, including the input modules.

Posted in: Products


Unique Camera Gauge System Controls Spring Manufacturing

Efficient and accurate operations are vital to the success of today’s manufacturer. Newcomb Spring, a manufacturer of custom springs, wire forms and stampings, is continually working to improve their production processes. The company has also seen an increasing number of requests for reports that detail the compliance of completed orders. Newcomb’s in-house Research and Development (R&D) Department is tasked with developing and building new technologies and equipment to solve unique challenges as well as improve overall operations and efficiency. Recently, Newcomb Spring introduced its own camera gauge system, developed by its R&D team, which was designed to provide high-speed manufacturing with automatic adjustments, extremely high levels of compliance, and reportable accuracy unmatched in the industry.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles


Securing and Validating Critical Vision Data

Manufacturing companies are placing increasing emphasis on data security throughout their operations to protect confidential data and to validate that their systems are protected against unauthorized and unwanted changes. The critical role that vision plays in many manufacturing processes makes it essential that system security be improved for vision applications. A new generation of vision-specific security tools offers improvements in access control, change tracking, auditing, and general network security to help ensure the integrity of vision applications while at the same time protecting data confidentiality.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs


Solar Pumped Fiber Laser for Solar Sail Propulsion and Remote Power Transfer

The photovoltaic capability of any instrument can be enhanced by delivering extra power via a space-based, broadband laser beam. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A new method has been developed to create coherent laser light efficiently with direct optical coupling of the Sun’s energy into the gain medium for multiple uses. New advances in solar cell photovoltaic (PV) technologies have greatly improved their efficiencies, mostly by improving their ability to convert many wavelengths or wider bands of the solar spectrum to electricity. New advances in actively doped fibers and optical glasses have been shown to produce very broad, multi-line absorption bands as well as stimulated emission lines, or laser lines. By designing the optical cavity system to feed back all emission bands into the gain media for amplification, a multi-wavelength source can be generated requiring no electronics.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs


ELID Grinding of Large Aspheres

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland This work focused on a manufacturing process to produce silicon carbide optical surfaces with low mid-spatial surface errors. Mid-spatial frequency (MSF) and high-spatial frequency (HSF) surface errors in the grinding of fast aspheres are amplified in hard ceramics like silicon carbide due to cyclic tool wear rates, vibration, and tool deformation.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Photonics, Briefs


Systems and Methods for Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Sensing

This innovation uses an optical fiber having a metallic dot array on its tip, a light source coupled to the optical fiber via a light coupler, and a spectrometer coupled to the optical fiber via the coupler. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Recently, there is widespread interest in the development of chemical and biochemical sensors based on plasmonic resonance of metallic nanostructures. In the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) for nanometer-sized metallic structures, a resonant oscillation of the conduction electrons within the metallic nanostructures gives rise to an enhanced scattering and absorption of light. The LSPR sensing requires simpler instrumentation than surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Photonics, Briefs