Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Dr. (James) Ira Thorpe, Astrophysicist, Gravitational Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Gravitational waves from colliding black holes were first observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) instruments in 2015. Building on these efforts on the ground, an international group of scientists is working to develop a space-based gravitational wave observatory called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Dr. Thorpe developed instrumentation used on LISA.

Posted in: Who's Who, Lasers & Laser Systems, Physical Sciences

Linear Encoders Enable More Accurate Observation of the Sun

HEIDENHAIN Corporation
Schaumburg, IL

Scientists know surprisingly little about what happens on the Sun. Solar researchers want to change this with the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics (KIS) in Freiburg, Germany is developing a Visible Tunable Filter (VTF) for this project. With a mirror diameter of four meters, it will be the largest solar telescope in the world, and therefore will provide a very detailed view of the Sun’s surface. The filter adjustment is controlled by HEIDENHAIN linear encoders with an accuracy of under one nanometer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

Camera Trends 2017

For an in-depth look at current trends in the camera market, we interviewed Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis, Association for Advancing Automation (A3), Ann Arbor, MI.

Posted in: Articles, Photonics

X-Ray Scattering Constructs 3D Images of Nanoparticle Grains

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new X-ray technique to see inside continuously packed nanoparticles, also known as grains, to examine deformations and dislocations that affect their properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Carbon Nanotube-Based Coatings Provide Extremely-High Surface Emissivity

Santa Barbara Infrared (SBIR) and Surrey NanoSystems (SNS) have partnered to produce a line of extended-area blackbody sources with exceptionally-high emissivity and radiometric accuracy. The emitter plates in these sources feature a carbon nanotube (CNT) based coating with remarkable light-trapping properties. This ultra-black coating was developed by SNS to satisfy a broad range of applications requiring surfaces with extremely low reflectance. The resulting blackbody sources provide more accurate infrared (IR) radiometric calibration than previously achievable by drastically reducing errors due to reflected IR light from the surrounding environment. The coating also works to reduce stray light in optical and IR imaging systems.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics

High-Resolution Imaging with Conventional Microscopes

MIT researchers have developed a method for making extremely high-resolution images of tissue samples at a fraction of the cost of other techniques, yet with similar resolution. The new technique relies on expanding tissue before imaging it with a conventional light microscope. Two years ago, the team showed that it was possible to expand tissue volumes 100-fold, resulting in an image resolution of about 60 nanometers. Now, they have shown that expanding the tissue a second time before imaging can boost the resolution to about 25 nanometers.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Cinematography on the Fly

In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras. Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions. But a team of researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Microscope Can Scan Tumors During Surgery

When women undergo lumpectomies to remove breast cancer, doctors try to remove all the cancerous tissue while conserving as much of the healthy breast tissue as possible. But currently there's no reliable way to determine during surgery whether the excised tissue is completely cancer-free at its margins — the proof that doctors need to be confident that they have removed the entire tumor. It can take several days for pathologists using conventional methods to process and analyze the tissue.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

New Microscopy Method Breaks Color Barrier of Optical Imaging

Researchers at Columbia University have made a significant step toward breaking the so-called “color barrier” of light microscopy for biological systems, allowing for much more comprehensive, system-wide labeling and imaging of a greater number of biomolecules in living cells and tissues than is currently attainable. The advancement has the potential for many future applications, including helping to guide the development of therapies to treat and cure disease.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

Changing the Nature of Optics in One Step

Optical lenses that can see features smaller than the wavelength of light cannot be made from conventional materials. Creating “hyperlenses” that can take ultra-sharp images needs both designer materials (metamaterials) and innovative optics to be developed. Current methods for fabricating such synthetic metamaterials are complicated and involve assembling artificial cells and patterning processes. To improve the process, Texas A&M scientists developed a one-step method, which directs the self-assembly of metallic gold pillars into a special oxide using pulsed laser deposition.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

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