Special Coverage


Nonlinear Swept Frequency Technique for CO2 Measurements Using a CW Laser System

The measurements would be used to significantly reduce the uncertainties in global estimates of CO2, improve climate models, and close the carbon budget for improved forecasting and policy decisions. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The U.S. National Research Council recently identified the need for a near-term space mission of Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days, and Seasons (ASCENDS). The primary objective of the ASCENDS mission is to make CO2 column measurements across the troposphere during the day and night over all latitudes and all seasons, and in the presence of scattered clouds. These measurements would be used to significantly reduce the uncertainties in global estimates of CO2 sources and sinks, provide an increased understanding of the connection between climate and CO2 exchange, improve climate models, and close the carbon budget for improved forecasting and policy decisions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Greenhouse Gases, Lasers & Laser Systems


All About Aspheric Lenses

The most notable benefit of aspheric lenses is their ability to correct for spherical aberration. Spherical aberration results from using a spherical surface to focus or collimate light. In other words, all spherical surfaces suffer from spherical aberration independent of alignment or manufacturing errors; therefore, a non-spherical, or aspheric surface, is needed to correct for it. Aspheric lenses allow optical designers to correct aberrations using fewer elements than conventional spherical optics because the former gives them more aberration correction than multiple surfaces of the latter. This white paper will discuss the anatomy and benefits of an aspheric lens, the different types of aspheres and how they are made, as well as Edmund Optics custom manufacturing capabilities.

Posted in: White Papers, Photonics


Optical Fiber for Solar Cells

These materials enable new solar-powered devices that are small, lightweight, and can be used without connection to existing electrical grids. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Polymeric and inorganic semiconductors offer relatively high quantum efficiencies, and are much less expensive and versatile to fabricate than non-amorphous silicon wafers. An optical fiber and cladding can be designed and fabricated to confine light for transport within ultraviolet and near-infrared media, using evanescent waves, and to transmit visible wavelength light for direct lighting.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Fiber Optics


Fabrication of Single-Mode, Distributed-Feedback, Interband Cascade Lasers

Applications exist in the oil and gas industry, automobile emissions monitors, breath analyzers, and fire detection equipment. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Type-II interband cascade lasers (ICLs) based on the GaSb material system represent an enabling technology for laser absorption spectroscopy in the 3-to-5-μm wavelength range. Instruments operating in this spectral regime can precisely match strong absorption lines of several gas molecules of interest in atmospheric science and environmental monitoring, specifically methane, ethane, other alkanes, and inorganic gases. Compared with non-semiconductor-based laser technologies, ICLs can be made more compact and power efficient, ultimately leading to more portable, robust, and manufacturable spectroscopy instruments.

Posted in: Briefs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics


The Hubble Space Telescope

25 Years of Challenges and Triumphs By Bruce A. Bennett On April 24, 1990, something happened that forever altered mankind’s view of the universe. It was on that day that the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Optical Components, Photonics


Interview with Jim Odom, Hubble Project Manager 1983-1986

Jim Odom served as project manager on the Hubble Space Telescope from 1983 to 1986. As the world celebrates Hubble’s 25th anniversary, Mr. Odom shared some of his experiences on the project.

Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, Features, Cameras, Photonics


Hubble Spinoffs: Space Age Technology for the Masses

By Bruce A. Bennett Over the plast 25 years, some of the sophisticated technology developed for the HST has been successfully spun off and commercialized to improve life on Earth.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Photonics