Photonics/Optics

Organic Solar Cell Initiative

Imec (Leuven, Belgium) has announced the European FP7 project X10D, an initiative aimed at developing tandem organic solar cells with an increased conversion efficiency and lifetime. The ultimate goal of the X10D project is to introduce organic photovoltaic technologies (OPV) into the thin-film PV market.

Posted in: Products, Products, ptb catchall, Photonics

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Controlling Heat Curing Adhesive Processes Using Infrared Spot Curing

Novel infrared fibers provide precision heating and curing of glues in medical device assemblies, improving workflow and design. Adhesives are often used as the joining compound between substrates in the medical device industry. Typical applications for adhesives include tube-to-connector bonding, steel-cannula-to-hub bonding, and any other joining process. Adhesives work particularly well in the assembly of dissimilar materials where traditional solvent-welding methods are being eliminated due to workplace safety legislation and where other joining methods such as ultrasonic welding and laser welding are inadequate.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Bio-Medical, Medical, Photonics

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Transforming Gaussian Beams into Uniform, Rectangular Intensity Distributions

The majority of laser types in current use produce output beams with circular or elliptical crosssections, with either Gaussian or near- Gaussian intensity profiles. This Gaussian intensity distribution is acceptable, and often beneficial for many applications in which the laser beam is being focused to a small spot. However, there are also many different uses for which a uniform intensity distribution (often referred to as a “flattop”) would be more optimal. For example, in materials processing tasks, a uniform intensity distribution ensures that the entire laser illuminated area is processed evenly. It is also valuable in situations where the laser light is used essentially for illumination. This is because uniform illumination makes identical features that all appear to have the same brightness, regardless of where they are located in the illuminated field, simplifying the image processing task and increasing contrast and resolution. These same benefits apply over a wide range of other applications that can be broadly classed as “illumination,” from machine vision, through flow cytometry, inspection, and even some medical uses.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Photonics

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Designing Optical Systems With Off-The-Shelf Products

Utilization of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) products is now almost a bylaw of government and military design projects and is becoming of increasing interest in commercial designs, as well. Optical systems are no exception; the use of stock optics can provide tremendous advantages in terms of reduced cost and development effort. The key is finding the most appropriate way of employing stock optics in a custom design.

Posted in: Articles, Applications, ptb catchall, Photonics

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High-Speed Digital Interferometry

Optical decoding eliminates the need for high-speed detectors and digital signal processing. Digitally enhanced heterodyne interferometry (DI) is a laser metrology technique employing pseudo-random noise (PRN) codes phase-modulated onto an optical carrier. Combined with heterodyne interferometry, the PRN code is used to select individual signals, returning the inherent interferometric sensitivity determined by the optical wavelength. The signal isolation arises from the autocorrelation properties of the PRN code, enabling both rejection of spurious signals (e.g., from scattered light) and multiplexing capability using a single metrology system. The minimum separation of optical components is determined by the wavelength of the PRN code.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Integrated Optics Achromatic Nuller for Stellar Interferometry

Nuller allows faint off-axis light to be much more easily seen. This innovation will replace a beam combiner, a phase shifter, and a mode conditioner, thus simplifying the system design and alignment, and saving weight and space in future missions. This nuller is a dielectric-waveguidebased, four-port asymmetric coupler. Its nulling performance is based on the mode-sorting property of adiabatic asymmetric couplers that are intrinsically achromatic. This nuller has been designed, and its performance modeled, in the 6.5-micrometer to 9.25-micrometer spectral interval (36% bandwidth). The calculated suppression of starlight for this 15-cm-long device is 10–5 or better through the whole bandwidth. This is enough to satisfy requirements of a flagship exoplanet-characterization mission.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Near-Infrared Photon-Counting Camera for High-Sensitivity Observations

Extremely faint phenomena and NIR signals emitted from distant celestial objects can be observed and imaged. The dark current of a transferred-electron photocathode with an InGaAs absorber, responsive over the 0.9-to-1.7-μm range, must be reduced to an ultralow level suitable for low signal spectral astrophysical measurements by lowering the temperature of the sensor incorporating the cathode. However, photocathode quantum efficiency (QE) is known to reduce to zero at such low temperatures. Moreover, it has not been demonstrated that the target dark current can be reached at any temperature using existing photocathodes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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