Articles

Performance of 1mm2 Silicon Photomultipliers

A silicon photomultiplier (SPM) is a new type of semiconductor detector that has the potential to replace the photo- multiplier tube (PMT) detector in many applications. In common with a PMT detector, the output of an SPM is an easily detectable current pulse for each detected photon and can be used in both photon counting mode and as an analogue (photocurrent) detector. However, the SPM also has a distinct advantage over PMT detectors. The photon-induced current pulse from a PMT varies greatly from photon to photon, due to the statistics of the PMT multiplication process (excess noise). In contrast, the current pulse from an SPM is identical from photon to photon. This gives the SPM a distinct advantage in photon counting applications as it allows the associated electronics to be greatly simplified. Identical pulses also mean that the SPM can resolve the number of photons in weak optical pulses, so-called photon number resolution. This is critical in a number of applications including linear-optics quantum computing.

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Printed Flexible Solar Cells Provide Embedded Renewable Power

In the effort to produce inexpensive, easily manufactured sources of sustainable, renewable power, solar cells continue to be a major focus — particularly flexible solar cells that can be applied directly to surfaces. Flexible solar cells are nothing new, but the methods by which they are made have progressed significantly in recent years.

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Linear Motors and Actuators Meets Automation Needs

Linear motors and actuators are now cost-competitive with ball screws and belt drives and offer distinctly superior agility and bandwidth for advanced positioning applications. New micromotors and actuators are helping to automate tasks not previously feasible. Direct linear drives are increasingly replacing servo-controlled pneumatic cylinders, contributing reliability and controllability, free from the cost, noise, and upkeep of air compressors.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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Motion Control Components Lend Hand to Biomedical Applications

The worlds of biomedical and motion control are joining at the hip, with motors, controllers, actuators, and other motion control components becoming key elements in advanced biomedical applications ranging from fluid dispensers to imaging tables to surgical simulation systems.

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Thermographic Imaging Selecting an IR Camera with the Right Detector

The thermographic imaging characteristics of an IR camera are largely determined by its detector assembly. Infrared radiation (IR) is focused onto the camera’s detector assembly, which is a focal plane array (FPA) that converts IR into a visual image depicting temperature variations across the camera’s field of view (FOV). The FPA consists of thousands of pixels, which could be fabricated from any one of the IR sensitive materials commonly used in these cameras. Most detector materials respond to a selected portion of the IR spectrum (Figure 1). Therefore, a camera selected for any given application should have the appropriate FPA material based on the IR characteristics of objects within the FOV and the user’s study objectives.

Posted in: Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Articles

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Contest Sponsors, "Create the Future" 2007 Design Contest

The “Create the Future” Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp., is proud to have COMSOL Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University as co-sponsors.

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Meet the Judges, "Create the Future" 2007 Design Contest

SolidWorks and NASA Tech Briefs thank the following judges for their participation:

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