Photonics/Optics

Scientists Find New Way to Image Solar Cells in 3-D

The Molecular Foundry’s Edward Barnard is part of a team of scientists that developed a new way to see inside solar cells. (Credit: Marilyn Chung)

Next-generation solar cells made of super-thin films of semiconducting material hold promise because they’re relatively inexpensive and flexible enough to be applied just about anywhere. Researchers are working to dramatically increase the efficiency at which thin-film solar cells convert sunlight to electricity. But it’s a tough challenge, partly because a solar cell’s subsurface realm—where much of the energy-conversion action happens—is inaccessible to real-time, nondestructive imaging. It’s difficult to improve processes you can’t see.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics
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DIGITAL PATHOLOGY: A Primer for Microscope Camera Selection

Most pathologists today use digital systems within their practices and research projects to communicate, store data, and analyze images. Whether it’s within clinical, forensic, surgical, or other branches of pathology, communication and consultation among specialists is greatly improved by the use of digital systems and enables faster diagnosis for patients.

Posted in: White Papers, Imaging, Medical, Optics, Photonics
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Optical Fiber Sensors for Infrastructure Monitoring

Virtually every type of public infrastructure — including bridges, pipelines, tunnels, foundations, roadways, dams, etc. — is subject to factors that can degrade it or lead to malfunctions. These structural problems can be the result of deterioration, improper construction methods, seismic activity, or nearby construction work. Although electrical strain gauges have long been used for monitoring structural changes, they sometimes lack the durability and integrity necessary to provide accurate, actionable information over extended periods.

Posted in: Articles, Optics, Test & Measurement, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Inspections, Roads and highways
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Optical Encoders

MICROMO (Clearwater, FL) announced the FAULHABER high-precision IER3 and IERS3 optical encoders. Both encoders deliver two-channel quadrature signals and an additional index signal. They can position a FAULHABER micro DC motor or brushless DC servomotor with a typical accuracy of 0.1° to 0.3°. The encoders combine the LED, photodetectors, analysis unit, and interpolation levels on one chip. They lengthen motors by 15.5 to 18.5 mm. Both encoders are also available with line drivers that generate complementary output signals and make data transmission resistant to electrical interference, especially in encoders with long connecting cables. The IER3 encoder has a resolution of up to 10,000 lines per revolution, and achieves an angular resolution of 0.009° with the evaluation of 40,000 edges per revolution. The IERS3-500 provides resolutions of 250 and 500 lines per revolution.

Posted in: Products, Electronics & Computers, Motors & Drives, Optical Components, Optics
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Improved Two-Step Replication Process for Producing Precision Optical Mirrors

Production of precision optical mirrors by replication requires molds or mandrels of the complementary shape. For example, replicating a concave mirror requires a convex mandrel. Convex shapes are difficult to fabricate and test since they do not focus light. Convex mandrels are therefore costly when they are available. Their sizes are limited to 1-2 meters. Two-step or double replication is well known in the art. In the traditional method, a specific polymer resin system with fillers is used to replicate an existing concave mirror (designated as “mother”) to produce a convex intermediate designated as “daughter.” The same material is then used to replicate the daughter, creating a third-generation concave that is designated as “granddaughter.”

Posted in: Briefs, Optics, Mirrors, Optics, Production, Polymers, Resins
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System and Method for Generating a Frequency-Modulated Linear Laser Waveform

Applications include manufacturing equipment, robotics, surveillance and security, military imaging, and spectroscopy.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has made a breakthrough improvement in laser frequency modulation. Frequency modulation technology has been used for surface mapping and measurement in sonar, radar, and time-of-flight laser technologies for decades. Although adequate, the accuracy of distance measurements made by these technologies can be improved by using a high-frequency triangular-waveform laser instead of a sine waveform or lower-frequency radio or microwaves. This new system generates a triangular modulation waveform with improved linearity that makes possible precision laser radar [light detection and ranging (lidar)] for a variety of applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics, Measurements, Lasers, Lidar, Waveguides
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Nasa Processing Technologies Enable Advanced Computing Applications

Embedded processing technologies developed at NASA field centers are enabling the use of next-generation computer-controlled instruments and spacecraft, including SpaceCubes, integrated photonics modems, and new ways to manufacture computer components.

SpaceCube Processors

Next-generation spacecraft instruments are capable of producing data at rates of 108 to 1011 bits per second, and both their instrument designs and mission operations concepts are severely constrained by data rate and volume. SpaceCube™ enables these next-generation missions.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Photonics, Avionics, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Spacecraft
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Diamond Meta-Surfaces Enable New Laser Applications

Over the last 15 years, breakthroughs in the manufacture and processing of diamond grown by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) have established diamond as an excellent substrate material for high-power and high-energy optics. Diamond is a natural choice for these highly demanding applications due to a combination of desirable properties including: extremely broad transmission spectrum, low absorption, chemical inertness, mechanical strength, and the highest room temperature thermal conductivity of any material. These properties allow diamond to perform in environments and applications where other materials are simply not viable options.

Posted in: Articles, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics, Lasers, Ceramics, Conductivity, Durability
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Inside NASA’s White Sands Test Facility: How High-Speed Cameras Support Hypervelocity Experiments

At NASA’s White Sands Test Facility, Donald Henderson and his team spend much of their days shooting projectiles at 15,700 miles per hour. Hypervelocity testing done at the Las Cruces, NM center simulates the impact of micrometeoroids and orbital debris on spacecraft shields.

Posted in: Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Impact tests, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test facilities, Spacecraft
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Choosing the Right Adhesive for Display Bonding

When ambient light hits displays, it causes unwanted reflections, which adversely affects readability. This is a nuisance for users; however, it can be prevented with optical adhesives.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Optics, Photonics, Human factors, Displays, Adhesives and sealants
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