New Technique Could Improve Detection of Concealed Nuclear Materials

A low-energy nuclear reaction imaging technique designed to detect the presence of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in cargo containers arriving at U.S. ports was demonstrated. The method relies on a combination of neutrons and high-energy photons to detect shielded radioactive materials inside the containers.

Posted in: News, Imaging

Compact, Lightweight, Athermal, Nanocomposite Telescopes with Freeform Optics

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Small space missions such as CubeSats frequently require telescopes with highly sophisticated optical systems that are also low in mass and cost. The very limited spacecraft volume and mass limits also preclude adjustments to maintain critical alignment with change in temperature. Existing systems, especially those that employ folded optical paths with freeform optics, are expensive to fabricate. The optics, and support and metering structures, are also heavy due to the use of high-density material such as glass, aluminum, or nickel.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Satellites

One-Micron (1064-nm) Planar External Cavity Laser (PLANEX)

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

A highly reliable, very low-phase and low-amplitude-noise laser is required as an oscillator for the LISA mission. A commercial product made by Redfern Integrated Optics met these requirements (1550 nm PLANEX External Cavity Laser), but it operated at 1.5 microns, not the required LISA wavelength of 1 micron. An ultra-low-noise External Cavity Laser was produced at a wavelength of 1 micron, and was integrated in a butterfly package. The goal is to eventually use this laser in the LISA and GRACE-II missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Lasers, Product development, Packaging

Invertible Time Invariant Linear Filtering (InTILF) Method for Pattern Detection and Modeling of Stochastic One- or Two- Dimensional Data

This tool can analyze and model surface metrology data for polishing-tool fabricators.

X-ray astronomy offers the opportunity to observe important phenomena, including the early accretion of massive black holes and detecting diffuse ionized intergalactic gas that is heated to X-ray temperatures (>106). One of the technical challenges facing X-ray astronomy is fabricating optics that are properly shaped and smooth enough to produce quality images. Surface defects on the order of the wavelength of the observed spectrum and up to the size of the optical surface must be polished out of the mirrors without leaving a detectable pattern because the detectable signal is on the order of magnitude of the noise. This leads to a cycle of polishing and metrology that adds time and expense to optics fabrication.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Mirrors, Optics, Metal finishing

3D Imaging Reveals Battery Degradation in Real Time

Using sophisticated 3D imaging, a team at University College London, The European Synchrotron (ESRF), University of Manchester, Harwell Oxford, Oregon State University, and the National Physical Laboratory visualized a battery’s performance loss and internal structural damage. The images of active commercial Li/MnO2 disposable batteries, captured using X-ray computed tomography, will help to improve cell designs.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Photonics, Batteries, Imaging and visualization, Performance tests

Filtering in Machine Vision

There are many different types of filters in machine vision that can be utilized to improve or change the image of the object under inspection. It is important to understand the different technologies behind the various types of filters in order to understand their advantages and limitations. Although there is a wide variety of filters, almost all can be divided into two primary categories: colored glass filters and coated filters.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Automation, Glass

Customized Drone Maps Glaciers

Using a custom-designed drone, a researcher from The Ohio State University mapped glaciers and wetlands in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Despite a discovered drop in glacier growth, the findings from the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) revealed a slightly more optimistic picture of the region’s water supply, which relies in part on the ice formations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Imaging, Photonics, Cartography, Terrain, Water, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Scientists Create Reflection-Removing Camera

In recent years, computer scientists have been investigating a range of techniques for removing reflections from digital photographs shot through glass. Some have tried to use variability in focal distance or the polarization of light; others, like those at MIT, have exploited the fact that a pane of glass produces not one but two reflections, slightly offset from each other. This led to them developing a system that fires light into a scene and gauges the differences between the arrival times of light reflected by nearby objects — such as panes of glass — and more distant objects.

Posted in: Articles, News, Cameras, Imaging

Researchers Develop New Lens for Terahertz Radiation

Terahertz radiation is a relatively unexplored slice of the electromagnetic spectrum, but it holds the promise of countless new imaging applications as well as wireless communication networks with extremely high bandwidth. The problem is that there are few off-the-shelf components available for manipulating terahertz waves. Now, researchers from Brown University’s School of Engineering have developed a new type of lens for focusing terahertz radiation (which spans from about 100 to 10,000 GHz). The lens, made from an array of stacked metal plates with spaces between them, performs as well or better than existing terahertz lenses, and the architecture used to build the device could set the stage for a range of other terahertz components that don’t currently exist. The work was led by Rajind Mendis, assistant professor of engineering (research) at Brown, who worked with Dan Mittleman, professor of engineering at Brown.

Posted in: Articles, News, Imaging

Flexible Sheet Camera Wraps Around Objects

A novel sheet camera developed by Columbia Engineering researchers can be wrapped around everyday objects to capture images that cannot be taken with one or more conventional cameras.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Imaging

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