Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

This week's Question: Last week's TechBriefs.com story from the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference in Anaheim revealed new ways of detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines. Panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hosting them, can improve the detection of hazardous gas leakage. What do you think? Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Aerospace, Aviation, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics, Data Acquisition, Sensors

Q&A: Photonics Breakthrough 'Tunes' Wireless Communications

A chip-scale optical device, developed by a team from the University of Sydney’s Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, achieves radio frequency signal control at sub-nanosecond time scales. The photonics breakthrough has the potential to provide broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users.

Posted in: News, Communications, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics

Researchers Sculpt Optical Micro-Structures

Materials scientists at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering used a new framework to grow sophisticated optical micro-components, including trumpet-shaped assemblages that operate as waveguides.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Optical Components, Optics

Micro-Fresnel Zone Plate Optical Devices Using Densely Accumulated Ray Points

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel approach for a high-density optical data storage system to advance the typical capabilities of an optical data storage system. Operating at any laser wavelength from infrared (IR), visible, ultraviolet (UV), and X-ray regimes, the NASA technology utilizes special beam focusing techniques to achieve extremely short focal lengths and ultra-small spot sizes. The technology could be used with any laser wavelength and soft X-ray regime, and can be adapted to take advantage of any optical media. The high-density data storage capability is solely a function of the reduced laser/X-ray spot size.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Lasers, Optics, Waveguides, Data management

CUDA Framework for Linear Time-Invariant Control of Adaptive Optics Systems

The predictor used here is computed directly from a measured open-loop disturbance sequence using an efficient subspace identification algorithm.

Current science objectives, such as high-contrast imaging of exoplanets, have led to the development of highorder adaptive optics (AO) systems possessing several thousand deformable mirror (DM) actuators. These systems typically rely on integrator-based control architectures, where the temporal error rejection bandwidth is limited by the computational latency between wavefront measurement and application of the DM commands. In many systems, this latency is the driving factor behind residual wavefront error.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Adaptive control, Architecture, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Sensors and actuators

Optical Fiber for NASA's Next Climate-Viewing Satellite

Polymicro Technologies™ optical fiberMolexLisle, IL1-800-78MOLEXwww.molex.com
Posted in: Application Briefs, Fiber Optics, Optics, Fiber optics, Weather and climate, Polymers, Satellites

Arrayed Micro-Ring Spectrometer System and Method of Use

This miniaturized system performs rapid multi-spectral analysis and imaging.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel spectral analysis system that provides rapid multispectral analysis and imaging in a miniaturized system design. Typical spectrometers make use of linear gratings with linear slits or charge-coupled device (CCD) arrays to separate and detect light in its component wavelengths to build a spectrum across a range of wavelengths. Such conventional spectrometers are difficult to miniaturize below a few centimeters. Creating an image with these systems also requires physical rastering of the light beam and detection system across an area to build up the individual data points of an image. The NASA Micro-Ring Thin-Film Spectrometer technology makes use of a microring grating to separate the component wavelengths of the light signal for detection and spectral analysis. Due to the miniaturized design obtained by Fresnel diffraction, an array of these micro-ring grating-based spectrometers can be constructed to enable extremely small-size, multi-spectral imaging of an analysis area.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Downsizing, Spectroscopy, Product development, Refractory materials

Resonance-Actuation of Microshutter Arrays

This innovation uses MEMS technology to selectively capture spectra of distant objects.

The field of view required for future missions is much larger than for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have created a new actuation scheme to reduce mass and complexity of the microshutters used on the NIRSpec instrument. This new development implements pulsed electrostatic actuation in place of magnetic actuation.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Product development, Refractory materials

A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/ X-Ray Bands

Applications include telecommunications involving satellite links, agile military communication, reconnaissance, and surveillance of ground assets from orbit.

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very complex.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Downsizing, Optics, Lightweighting, Satellites

Corrective 'Eyeglasses' Created For X-Ray Research Facilities

Even when an X-ray beam is steered and focused with advanced mirrors and other optics, abnormalities can creep in. These problems have names familiar to those with imperfect vision, such as “astigmatism” or “coma” and “spherical” errors. And just like our eyes, an X-ray beam can lose power and focus when its alignment isn’t perfect. To address this challenge with X-rays, researchers designed and built special spectacles, or corrective phase plates, for use at light sources that use high-intensity X-rays to probe matter in fine detail.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, Imaging, Optical Components, Photonics

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