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NASA Technologists Advance Next-Generation 3D Imaging

Building, fixing, and refueling space-based assets or rendezvousing with a comet or asteroid will require a robotic vehicle and a super-precise, high-resolution 3D imaging lidar that generates the real-time images needed to guide the vehicle to a target traveling at thousands of miles per hour.A team of technologists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is developing a next-generation 3D scanning lidar — dubbed the Goddard Reconfigurable Solid-state Scanning Lidar (GRSSLi) — that could provide the imagery required to execute these orbital dances.Equipped with a low-power, eye-safe laser, a micro-electro-mechanical scanner, and a single photodetector, GRSSLi will "paint" a scene with the scanning laser. Its detector will sense the reflected light to create a high-resolution 3-D image at kilometer distances — a significant increase in capability over current imaging lidars that are effective only at meter distances.Just as important, the instrument is equipped with onboard "vision" algorithms that interpret the three-dimensional image returned by the lidar. The softwar estimates location and attitude of a target relative to the lidar.SourceAlso: Learn about NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Posted in: News, Visualization Software, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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Light Bending Material Facilitates Search for New Particles

Particle physicists have a hard time identifying all the elementary particles created in their particle accelerators. But now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have designed a material that makes it much easier to distinguish the particles.

Posted in: News, Solar Power, Optics, Photonics

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Scientists Find Novel Way to Improve Laser Performance

Energy loss in optical systems, such as lasers, is a chief hindrance to their performance and efficiency and it occurs on an ongoing, frustrating basis. To help laser systems overcome loss, operators often pump the system with an overabundance of photons, or light packets, to achieve optical gain. But now, scientists from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis have shown a new way to reverse or eliminate such loss by, ironically, adding loss to a laser system to actually reap energy gains. In other words, they've invented a way to win by losing.

Posted in: News, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics

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Industry Roundtable: Imaging Technology

Few technologies have impacted the scientific community – and non-scientific community for that matter – as much as digital imaging technology. From exotic, high-speed imaging systems to rugged machine vision systems to a vast array of sophisticated consumer devices, digital cameras are everywhere these days, documenting every aspect of this world we live and work in. Photonics Tech Briefs recently spoke with executives from four well-known imaging companies to get their perspectives on where imaging technology is today, and where it is going in the future.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Photonics

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Ruggedized Displays Improve Automotive Safety

Navigation and entertainment screens in cars are becoming ever-larger and, in some cases, the central control point for drivers and passengers. Many manufacturers consider using glass to cover the displays. It gives the same pleasing surface feel and high-quality look that users of tablets and smartphones have come to expect. However, glass also bears the additional risk that in the event of a crash it may splinter and injure the occupants.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Photonics

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Product of the Month: Laser Illumination System

Specialised Imaging (Herts., UK), working in conjunction with Cavitar (Tampere, Finland), has announced the SI LUX640 laser illumination system, designed to improve the accuracy and sensitivity of high-speed video, ultra-high-speed framing cameras, Schleiren imaging, and Shadowgraph systems.

Posted in: Products, Products, Photonics

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>60 W Ultraviolet (UV) Laser

Spectra-Physics®, (Santa Clara, CA), a Newport company, recently introduced Quasar 355-60, a UV laser that offers a groundbreaking >60 W with high >300 μJ pulse energies. Featuring TimeShiftTM technology for programmable pulse parameters, the laser delivers dramatic advances of 33 percent in power and pulse energies, 3.5x in maximum repetition rate (0 to 3.5 MHz), and 2.5x in minimum pulse widths (100 ns) over the >45 W Quasar 355-45. The new Quasar 355-60 transforms microelectronic device manufacturing, enabling major advances in both throughput and precision.

Posted in: Products, Products, Photonics

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