Special Coverage

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
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Arrayed Micro-Ring Spectrometer System and Method of Use

This miniaturized system performs rapid multi-spectral analysis and imaging.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel spectral analysis system that provides rapid multispectral analysis and imaging in a miniaturized system design. Typical spectrometers make use of linear gratings with linear slits or charge-coupled device (CCD) arrays to separate and detect light in its component wavelengths to build a spectrum across a range of wavelengths. Such conventional spectrometers are difficult to miniaturize below a few centimeters. Creating an image with these systems also requires physical rastering of the light beam and detection system across an area to build up the individual data points of an image. The NASA Micro-Ring Thin-Film Spectrometer technology makes use of a microring grating to separate the component wavelengths of the light signal for detection and spectral analysis. Due to the miniaturized design obtained by Fresnel diffraction, an array of these micro-ring grating-based spectrometers can be constructed to enable extremely small-size, multi-spectral imaging of an analysis area.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Downsizing, Spectroscopy, Product development, Refractory materials
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Resonance-Actuation of Microshutter Arrays

This innovation uses MEMS technology to selectively capture spectra of distant objects.

The field of view required for future missions is much larger than for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have created a new actuation scheme to reduce mass and complexity of the microshutters used on the NIRSpec instrument. This new development implements pulsed electrostatic actuation in place of magnetic actuation.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Product development, Refractory materials
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A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/ X-Ray Bands

Applications include telecommunications involving satellite links, agile military communication, reconnaissance, and surveillance of ground assets from orbit.

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very complex.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Downsizing, Optics, Lightweighting, Satellites
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Corrective 'Eyeglasses' Created For X-Ray Research Facilities

Even when an X-ray beam is steered and focused with advanced mirrors and other optics, abnormalities can creep in. These problems have names familiar to those with imperfect vision, such as “astigmatism” or “coma” and “spherical” errors. And just like our eyes, an X-ray beam can lose power and focus when its alignment isn’t perfect. To address this challenge with X-rays, researchers designed and built special spectacles, or corrective phase plates, for use at light sources that use high-intensity X-rays to probe matter in fine detail.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, Imaging, Optical Components, Photonics
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Researchers Craft New Material That Could Improve LED Screens

Researchers working at the Ultrafast Laser Lab at the University of Kansas successfully created a new bilayer material, with each layer measuring less than one nanometer in thickness. The new material, that someday could lead to more efficient and versatile light emission, was made by combining atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, LEDs, Powering & Controlling LEDs, Materials, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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Optical Generation of Ultrasound Via Photoacoustic Effect

Limitations of the piezoelectric array technologies conventionally used for ultrasonics inspired a group of University College London researchers to explore an alternative mechanism for generating ultrasound via light, also known as the photoacoustic effect. Coupling this with 3-D printing, the group was able to generate sound fields with specific shapes for potential use in biological cell manipulation and drug delivery.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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High-Power Fiber Lasers

New Applications Are Being Enabled by Dramatic Advances in Design and Performance

High-power (multi-kW) fiber lasers are revolutionizing industrial materials processing markets by offering an unmatched combination of performance, reliability, and cost advantages. For example, in sheet metal cutting (the largest application, with more than $1B/year of laser sales), fiber lasers provide the highest cutting speed (especially for thin sheets, the dominant application), scalability to thick sheets (>1”), and the ability to process a wide range of metals with a single tool. Along with low power consumption and high reliability, these capabilities result in the lowest cost per part. Fiber lasers have thus been the fastest-growing segment of the laser market for the past decade.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Fiber optics, Lasers, Cutting, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Reliability
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Finding the Right Chip-on-Tip Camera Technology

You have a great idea that could potentially revolutionize your industry: a new surgical technique, diagnostic solution, or inspection system. You already know getting there will require the latest video imaging technology from an incredibly small, sub-millimeter, package; in other words, a distal chip-on-tip (COT) video camera. The COT needs to integrate into an elegantly designed, flexible device and allow video imaging into anatomy that was previously inaccessible, or image into the tiny dark crevices of our mechanized world. The technology has to be inexpensive, yet video performance needs to be competitive with larger sensor video products with which the market is already familiar. (Figure 1). So, where do you start to identify appropriate video technologies and vendors?

Posted in: Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Integrated circuits, Optics, Product development, Supplier assessment
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2.2-Micron, Uncooled, InGaAs Photodiodes and Balanced Photoreceivers up to 25-GHz Bandwidth

These photodiodes have applications in LiDAR sensors, telecommunications links, and pulsed laser systems.

Traditional applications for 2-micron photodetectors have been largely dominated by passive remote sensing where detectors having bandwidth of even one megahertz are deemed sufficient. The onus in such applications is to achieve low dark current through active cooling. The advent of high-power, 2-micron-wave-length lasers have made coherent LiDARs viable for active sensing applications. Such a system needs photodetectors that can handle high local oscillator optical power and have large bandwidth. Through a combination of high coherent gain and small integration time, a large signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved. Operation at high optical power levels reduces the significance of photodiodes’ dark current. As a result, uncooled operation at room temperature is feasible, simplifying the overall instrument design.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Remote sensing, Cooling
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Thermal Imaging: How Does It Work?

By detecting very subtle temperature differences of everything in view, infrared technology reveals what otherwise would be invisible to the naked eye.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Heat transfer, Visibility
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