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Researchers Equip Robot with Novel Tactile Sensor

Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port.The sensor is an adaptation of a technology called GelSight, which was developed by the lab of Edward Adelson, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science at MIT, and first described in 2009. The new sensor isn’t as sensitive as the original GelSight sensor, which could resolve details on the micrometer scale. But it’s smaller — small enough to fit on a robot’s gripper — and its processing algorithm is faster, so it can give the robot feedback in real time.A GelSight sensor — both the original and the new, robot-mounted version — consists of a slab of transparent, synthetic rubber coated on one side with a metallic paint. The rubber conforms to any object it’s pressed against, and the metallic paint evens out the light-reflective properties of diverse materials, making it much easier to make precise optical measurements.In the new device, the gel is mounted in a cubic plastic housing, with just the paint-covered face exposed. The four walls of the cube adjacent to the sensor face are translucent, and each conducts a different color of light — red, green, blue, or white — emitted by light-emitting diodes at the opposite end of the cube. When the gel is deformed, light bounces off of the metallic paint and is captured by a camera mounted on the same cube face as the diodes.From the different intensities of the different-colored light, the algorithms developed by Adelson’s team can infer the three-dimensional structure of ridges or depressions of the surface against which the sensor is pressed. Source Read other Sensors tech briefs.

Posted in: Photonics, Optics, Materials, Motion Control, Sensors, Lighting, LEDs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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Unique Camera Gauge System Controls Spring Manufacturing

Efficient and accurate operations are vital to the success of today’s manufacturer. Newcomb Spring, a manufacturer of custom springs, wire forms and stampings, is continually working to improve their production processes. The company has also seen an increasing number of requests for reports that detail the compliance of completed orders. Newcomb’s in-house Research and Development (R&D) Department is tasked with developing and building new technologies and equipment to solve unique challenges as well as improve overall operations and efficiency. Recently, Newcomb Spring introduced its own camera gauge system, developed by its R&D team, which was designed to provide high-speed manufacturing with automatic adjustments, extremely high levels of compliance, and reportable accuracy unmatched in the industry.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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Securing and Validating Critical Vision Data

Manufacturing companies are placing increasing emphasis on data security throughout their operations to protect confidential data and to validate that their systems are protected against unauthorized and unwanted changes. The critical role that vision plays in many manufacturing processes makes it essential that system security be improved for vision applications. A new generation of vision-specific security tools offers improvements in access control, change tracking, auditing, and general network security to help ensure the integrity of vision applications while at the same time protecting data confidentiality.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs

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Solar Pumped Fiber Laser for Solar Sail Propulsion and Remote Power Transfer

The photovoltaic capability of any instrument can be enhanced by delivering extra power via a space-based, broadband laser beam. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A new method has been developed to create coherent laser light efficiently with direct optical coupling of the Sun’s energy into the gain medium for multiple uses. New advances in solar cell photovoltaic (PV) technologies have greatly improved their efficiencies, mostly by improving their ability to convert many wavelengths or wider bands of the solar spectrum to electricity. New advances in actively doped fibers and optical glasses have been shown to produce very broad, multi-line absorption bands as well as stimulated emission lines, or laser lines. By designing the optical cavity system to feed back all emission bands into the gain media for amplification, a multi-wavelength source can be generated requiring no electronics.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs

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ELID Grinding of Large Aspheres

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland This work focused on a manufacturing process to produce silicon carbide optical surfaces with low mid-spatial surface errors. Mid-spatial frequency (MSF) and high-spatial frequency (HSF) surface errors in the grinding of fast aspheres are amplified in hard ceramics like silicon carbide due to cyclic tool wear rates, vibration, and tool deformation.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Photonics, Briefs

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Systems and Methods for Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Sensing

This innovation uses an optical fiber having a metallic dot array on its tip, a light source coupled to the optical fiber via a light coupler, and a spectrometer coupled to the optical fiber via the coupler. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Recently, there is widespread interest in the development of chemical and biochemical sensors based on plasmonic resonance of metallic nanostructures. In the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) for nanometer-sized metallic structures, a resonant oscillation of the conduction electrons within the metallic nanostructures gives rise to an enhanced scattering and absorption of light. The LSPR sensing requires simpler instrumentation than surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Photonics, Briefs

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Product of the Month: Fiber Optic Sensing System

The RTS125 from 4DSP (Austin, TX) is an off-the-shelf, distributed fiber optic sensing solution. With tens of thousands of strain or temperature sensors simultaneously monitored up to 100 times per second, the RTS125 offers the same sensing capabilities on up to eight channels as its predecessor, the RTS150, but in a lighter, ruggedized enclosure. This product delivers reliable measurements in the most demanding environments faced by the aerospace, automotive, civil engineering, and energy sectors among others.

Posted in: Products, Photonics

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