Special Coverage

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
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Additive-Manufactured, Very Lightweight, Diamond Turned Aspheric Mirror

Industrial-grade, lightweight mirrors used in military and aeronautics have tight specifications brought on by demanding performance parameters. For example, a mirror that is used in an orbiting telescope would have to be extremely lightweight, stiff, and be configured to operate in extreme temperatures. These parameters traditionally work against each other. A material that is stiff is typically heavy, and a mirror that is lightweight and machinable may greatly distort when exposed to extreme heat or cold. Furthermore, materials that fit some of these parameters may not be easily machined to create a mirror, an art that requires high-precision tooling.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Choosing a Light and Color Measurement System for LEDs

LED-based lighting and display systems are becoming increasingly popular due to their low cost, flexibility, and efficiency. Measuring the light and color output of LEDs is, therefore, becoming more important as their performance is compared to and evaluated against traditional technologies. In addition, inherent performance variations from device to device must be understood and controlled.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, LEDs, Lighting, Photonics
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3D Imaging Reveals Sub-surface Battery Flaws

Ed Barnard

Traditional imaging technologies have been used to investigate overall solar efficiency, but many of the methods only offer surface views. A new – and “exciting” – ultra-fast laser technique developed at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides a deeper look and maps a solar cell in three dimensions.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics
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Autonomous Vehicles Open Up New Roads for LIDAR Growth

Laser range-finding, or LIDAR, is a way of measuring distance, directly analogous to radar except using radiation in the near infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum rather than the radio waves used in radar. LIDAR techniques are used for a variety of final applications including terrain-mapping for geology, urban planning and archaeology; distance measurement for surveying, golf, hunting, military applications, and docking of large ships; and speed measurement for traffic monitoring and speed limit enforcement.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics
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Partially Transparent Circular Mask to Suppress Narrowband Laser Light

The evolved Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (eLISA) is the implementation of the original Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA) concept that will be proposed for the European Space Agency's (ESA) L.3 Cosmic Visions opportunity. The eLISA observatory uses lasers to range between pairs of freely falling test masses in adjacent, widely separated spacecraft. The measurement is made continuously, requiring simultaneous transmission and reception of a 1064-nm laser beam through an optical telescope.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Miniature Camera Mimics Eagle's Eye

A tiny, 3D-printed “eagle-eye” camera developed at the University of Stuttgart in Germany mimics the vision of some of nature's sharpest predators. The “foveated” imaging system, named after the fovea part of the eye, provides a high central acuity that could support new applications in optical sensors, endoscopy, and surveillance drones.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics
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Characterizing Richness of Previously Unmapped Terrain and Estimating Its Impact on Navigation Performance Using 3D Range Sensors in Flight

Landers to large planetary bodies such as Mars typically use a secondary reconnaissance spacecraft to generate high-fidelity 3D terrain maps that are subsequently used for landing site selection and creating onboard maps for terrain-relative navigation systems. This luxury does not exist with small primitive bodies such as comets and asteroids. For these bodies, the landing spacecraft has to perform the 3D mapping and, with possible help from ground control, choose a feasible landing site. To enable this operation, the spacecraft would need to carry a 3D ranging sensor system such as a LIDAR. With the spacecraft placed in extended mapping orbits, 3D range measurement data is then used to create a shape model of the object. Terrain-based navigation schemes that employ cameras could then be used to image, detect, match, and track features against the map database to provide a 6-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) navigation solution during descent. Camera-based systems, however, are not robust to lighting variations, and do not provide a direct 3D position/range feedback.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space

Bill Klipstein

The standard way for spacecraft to communicate with teams on the ground has been to use radio waves. NASA, however, will test the use of lasers to increase data communication rates by as much as 100 times. In a Technology Leaders Q&A, JPL physicist Bill Klipstein explains his role as project manager of NASA's Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) mission.

Posted in: Articles, Photonics
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New Products: May 2017 Photonics & Imaging Technology

1x4 Pulsed Laser Diode Array

Excelitas Technologies® Corp. (Waltham, MA) has introduced a 1x4 Pulsed Laser Diode Array for LiDAR applications. The new laser array combines Excelitas’ high-efficiency, multi-cavity laser chip technology with small form-factor surface mount device (SMD) packaging for applications requiring high reliability, such as autonomous vehicles and drones.

Posted in: Products, Imaging, Photonics
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What’s New on TechBriefs.com: Asteroid Detection, Blood-Pressure Monitoring, and Breaking the ‘Bandwidth Bottleneck’

Did you know that a 1-kilometer-wide asteroid flew past the Earth this month? Or that a chip-scale device provides broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users? Or that a new "Bold Band" offers a wearable way to monitor blood pressure? Make sure you've seen the latest stories on TechBriefs.com.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Imaging, Patient Monitoring, Photonics
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