A Better Understanding of High-Temperature Superconductors

Superconductivity, in which electric current flows without resistance, promises huge energy savings – from low-voltage electric grids with no transmission losses, super-efficient motors and generators, and myriad other schemes. But such everyday applications still lie in the future, because conventional superconductivity in metals can’t do the job.

Posted in: News, News, Power Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Lasers & Laser Systems

Compact Green Disk Laser for Therapy Systems

This diode-pumped, thin-disk laser is designed for applications in ophthamology, dematology, and endoscopy

The JenLas® 5/8 W, recently introduced to the U.S. market, offers an output power of up to 8 Watts. Lasers of the JenLas D2 product line work in continuous wave mode, emitting green laser light at 532 nm. The infrared laser light is converted into green laser light by an intracavity frequency doubling crystal. The new laser is a multi-mode system.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Medical, Lasers & Laser Systems, Robotics, Lasers, Optics, Lasers, Optics, Medical equipment and supplies

Light Source Enables Endoscope Miniaturization

This work will explore an illumination system's potential to miniaturize traditional endoscopes by shrinking the size of the channel used to deliver light.

Physical space constraints continue to impact advanced procedures such as single-incision laparoscopic surgery, robotic-assisted surgery, and other minimally invasive surgical procedures. Additional functionality and instruments are being squeezed through the smallest incisions possible. Available space continues to tighten with the migration of larger diameter, three-dimensional, high-definition endoscopic imaging systems into minimally invasive procedures. Fortunately, a significant portion of the endoscope, the light delivery channel, can be reduced in size, thereby allowing the space to be used for other purposes, or for shrinking the endoscope itself.1

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Imaging, Bio-Medical, Diagnostics, Medical, Fiber Optics, Downsizing, Lasers, Lasers, Medical equipment and supplies, Surgical procedures, Interior lighting, Interior lighting, Robotics

Fiber Optic Oxygen Sensors — How Do They Work?

Fiber optic oxygen sensors use the fluorescence of a chemical complex in a sol-gel to measure the partial pressure of oxygen. The pulsed blue LED sends light, at ~475 nm, to an optical fiber. The optical fiber carries the light to the probe. The distal end of the probe tip consists of a thin layer of a hydrophobic sol-gel material.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Chemicals, Oxygen

Has the Ultimate Camera Interface Finally Arrived?

In the early days of machine vision, like with all new technology, there was a lot of confusion as to what constituted a video interface between camera and computer. It was known that a camera and frame grabber were needed, but because the frame grabber and camera manufacturers were from places all over, there wasn't much agreement on how the two should be connected. This led to a time of several cameras with several cables, often the same camera manufacturer may have had different cables for each family of cameras on offer. Couple that with the fact that frame grabber interfaces also had no interface standards and you ended up with a lot of cables, sitting around long after the frame grabber or the camera had served its purpose. This led to standardization, and agreement by all parties on what constitutes an acceptable number of interfaces.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, ptb catchall, Photonics, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Connectors and terminals, Optics, Wiring, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Connectors and terminals, Optics, Wiring, Standardization

Method of Bonding Optical Elements With Near-Zero Displacement

Displacement caused by epoxy shrinking as it cures is reduced less than 200 nm.

The International X-ray Project seeks to build an x-ray telescope using thousands of pieces of thin and flexible glass mirror segments. Each mirror segment must be bonded into a housing in nearly perfect optical alignment without distortion. Forces greater than 0.001 Newton, or displacements greater than 0.5 μm of the glass, cause unacceptable optical distortion. All known epoxies shrink as they cure. Even the epoxies with the least amount of shrinkage (

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Optics, Optics, Adhesives and sealants

Optical Phase Recovery and Locking in a PPM Laser Communication Link

Coherence augmentation in a pulsed optical communication link will enable enhanced Doppler tracking and ranging capabilities.

Free-space optical communication holds great promise for future space missions requiring high data rates. For data communication in deep space, the current architecture employs pulse position modulation (PPM). In this scheme, the light is transmitted and detected as pulses within an array of time slots. While the PPM method is efficient for data transmission, the phase of the laser light is not utilized.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Architecture, Data exchange, Lasers, Architecture, Data exchange, Lasers

Reliable Optical Pump Architecture for Highly Coherent Lasers Used in Space Metrology Applications

This design also can be used in scientific instrumentation where repair is difficult such as in underwater deployment.

The design and initial demonstration of a laser pump module (LPM) incorporating single-mode, grating-stabilized 808- nm diode lasers and a low-loss, high-port-count optical combiner are completed. The purpose of the developed LPM is to reliably pump an Nd:YAG crystal in the laser head (LH), which serves as the optical metrology source for SIM-Lite mission. Using the narrow-linewidth, single-mode laser diodes enables placement of the pump power near Nd adsorption peak, which enhances pumping efficiency. Grating stabilization allows for stable pump spectra as diode operating temperature and bias current change. The low-loss, high-port-count optical combiner enables efficient combining of tens of pumps. Overall, the module supports 5+ years of continuous operation at 2 W of pump power with reliability approaching 100 percent.

Posted in: Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Architecture, Lasers, Architecture, Lasers, Product development, Pumps

Method to Enhance the Operation of an Optical Inspection Instrument Using Spatial Light Modulators

The interferometer would accommodate a large variety of spherical and aspherical optical components.

For many aspheric and freeform optical components, existing interferometric solutions require a custom computer-generated hologram (CGH) to characterize the part. The overall objective of this research is to develop hardware and a procedure to produce a combined, dynamic, Hartmann/Digital Holographic interferometry inspection system for a wide range of advanced optical components, including aspheric and freeform optics. This new instrument would have greater versatility and dynamic range than currently available measurement systems.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Physical Sciences, Measurements, Optics, Optics, Performance upgrades, Inspections

High-Speed Edge-Detecting Line Scan Smart Camera

This circuit reduces size and system complexity while increasing processing frame rates.

A high-speed edge-detecting line scan smart camera was developed. The camera is designed to operate as a component in a NASA Glenn Research Center developed inlet shock detection system. The inlet shock is detected by projecting a laser sheet through the airflow. The shock within the airflow is the densest part and refracts the laser sheet the most in its vicinity, leaving a dark spot or shadowgraph. These spots show up as a dip or negative peak within the pixel intensity profile of an image of the projected laser sheet. The smart camera acquires and processes in real-time the linear image containing the shock shadowgraph and outputting the shock location. Previously a highspeed camera and personal computer would perform the image capture and processing to determine the shock location.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Lasers, Optics, Lasers, Optics, Vibration, Vibration

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