Tech Briefs

Instrument Would Detect and Collect Biological Aerosols

Samples would be quickly collected on substrates that would be analyzed automatically.A proposed compact, portable instrument would sample micron-sized airborne particles, would discriminate between biological ones (e.g., bacteria) and nonbiological ones (e.g., dust particles), and would collect the detected biological particles for further analysis. The instrument is intended to satisfy a growing need for means of rapid, inexpensive collection of bioaerosols in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. Purposes that could be served by such collection include detecting airborne pathogens inside buildings and their ventilation systems, measuring concentrations of airborne biological contaminants around municipal waste-processing facilities, monitoring airborne effluents from suspected biowarfare facilities, and warning of the presence of airborne biowarfare agents.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Generating Control Commands From Gestures Sensed by EMG

Electrical signals from muscles involved in gestures are recognized.An effort is under way to develop noninvasive neuro-electric interfaces through which human operators could control systems as diverse as simple mechanical devices, computers, aircraft, and even spacecraft. The basic idea is to use electrodes on the surface of the skin to acquire electromyographic (EMG) signals associated with gestures, digitize and process the EMG signals to recognize the gestures, and generate digital commands to perform the actions signified by the gestures.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Thermal Light Valve Brings IR Imaging to the Masses

Technology uses MEMS structure with refractive properties sensitive to thermal radiation and reads out signal with inexpensive laser diode and CMOS sensor. RedShift Systems, Waltham, Massachusetts The desire to “see” in complete darkness or through obscurants such as smoke or fog has driven the development and adoption of thermal imaging technology. Thermal imaging is the translation of a scene’s heat signature — the 8-μm to 14-μm or long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) energy an object emits — into a visible image or data that can be interpreted by a computer.

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

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Optically Driven Deformable Mirrors

There is no wiring on the back sides of these mirrors. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Optically driven deformable mirrors may eventually supplant electrically driven deformable mirrors in some adaptive-optics and active-optics applications. Traditionally, the mirror facets in electrically driven deformable mirrors are actuated, variously, by means of piezoelectric, electrostrictive, microelectromechanical, liquid-crystal, or thermal devices. At least one such device must be dedicated to each facet, and there must be at least one wire carrying a control or drive signal to the device. If a deformable mirror comprises many (e.g., thousands) of facets, then wiring becomes a major problem for design, and the problem is compounded in cases of piezoelectric or other actuators for which high drive voltages are required. In contrast, in optically driven mirrors, the wiring problem is eliminated.

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

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Automatic Alignment of Displacement-Measuring Interferometer

Corrections are derived from fluctuations associated with circular dithering of a laser beam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A control system strives to maintain the correct alignment of a laser beam in an interferometer dedicated to measuring the displacement or distance between two fiducial corner-cube reflectors. The correct alignment of the laser beam is parallel to the line between the corner points of the corner-cube reflectors: Any deviation from parallelism changes the length of the optical path between the reflectors, thereby introducing a displacement or distance measurement error.

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

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Even Illumination From Fiber-Optic-Coupled Laser Diodes

Emerging light beams would be shaped by diffractive fiber-optic tips. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A method of equipping fiber-optic-coupled laser diodes to evenly illuminate specified fields of view has been proposed. The essence of the method is to shape the tips of the optical fibers into suitably designed diffractive optical elements. One of the main benefits afforded by the method would be more nearly complete utilization of the available light.

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

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Excimer Leverages Litho Lessons for kHz Micromachining

Features developed for lithography light sources are creating a mid-tier excimer laser niche. Coherent, Santa Clara, California Ultraviolet lasers currently are used in a very diverse range of industries and applications. This is because their high-energy photons directly can break inter-atomic bonds in many materials, and the short wavelength enables a high degree of spatial resolution (see Figure 1). Amongst ultraviolet lasers, excimers are unique in their ability to deliver a combination of high pulse energy and high average power. Because of these advantages, excimers are used in applications as diverse as ophthalmic corrective procedures, low-temperature silicon annealing for flat-panel displays, drilling inkjet nozzles, and treating the cylinder liners of diesel engines for greener automobile performance.

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

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