Photonics/Optics

Silicon Nanoantennas Turn Light Around

An artist’s rendering of nonlinear light scattering by a dimer of two silicon particles with a variable radiation pattern. A team of physicists from ITMO University, MIPT, and The University of Texas at Austin have developed an unconventional nanoantenna that scatters light in a particular direction depending on the intensity of incident radiation. The research findings will help with the development of flexible optical information processing in telecommunication systems.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics

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Researchers Create First “Water-Wave” Laser

Artist’s impression of a water wave laser. Technion researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, that laser emissions can be created through the interaction of light and water waves. This “water-wave laser” could someday be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves, or as a feature on microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” devices used to study cell biology and to test new drug therapies. For now, the water-wave laser offers a “playground” for scientists studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair.

Posted in: News, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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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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Researchers Propose Modular Space Telescope

Researchers from California Institute of Technology are proposing the idea of a modular space telescope that could be assembled by robots. The space observatory would have a primary mirror with a diameter of 100 meters — 40 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Optical Components, Optics

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NASA Engineers Tapped to Build First Integrated-Photonics Modem

A NASA team has been tapped to build a new type of communications modem that will employ an emerging, potentially revolutionary technology that could transform everything from telecommunications, medical imaging, and advanced manufacturing to national defense. The space agency’s first-ever integrated-photonics modem will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2020 as part of NASA’s multi-year Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD.The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based functions, such as lasers, switches, and wires, onto a microchip — much like an integrated circuit found in all electronics hardware. Once aboard the space station, the so-called Integrated LCRD LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a low-Earth orbit terminal for NASA’s LCRD, demonstrating yet another capability for high-speed, laser-based communications.

Posted in: Articles, News, Photonics

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Tiny Lenses Capture Very Big View

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the first- ever flexible, Fresnel zone plate microlenses with a wide field of view — a development that could allow everything from surgical scopes to security cameras to capture a broader perspective. The advance centers on a method for creating tiny lenses, each the size of a grain of salt, embedded within a flexible plastic polymer. This approach allowed the researchers, led by Hongrui Jiang, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Lynn H. Matthias Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, to bend an array of multiple lenses into a cylindrical structure. An array of these miniscule lenses, each no larger than a head of a pin, can capture an almost complete panorama, producing images from a 170-degree field of view.

Posted in: Articles, News, Optics, Photonics

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Making 3D Objects Disappear

Invisibility cloaks are a staple of science fiction and fantasy, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, but don’t exist in real life. Or do they? Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have devised an ultra-thin invisibility “skin” cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. Although this cloak is only microscopic in size, the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up to conceal macroscopic items as well.A 3D illustration of a metasurface skin cloak made from an ultrathin layer of nanoantennas (gold blocks) covering an arbitrarily shaped object. Light reflects off the cloak (red arrows) as if it were reflecting off a flat mirror. (Credit: Xiang Zhang)

Posted in: Articles, News, Photonics

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