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

Acrylate-Based Specialty Optical Fiber Coatings for Harsh Environments

Applications of optical fibers at high temperatures and in harsh environments demand coatings sustainable under those conditions. The goal of this work was to evaluate thermal and environmental stability of a series of commercially available and in-house formulated acrylate-based coatings. Dual and single-coat fiber designs were tested. The individual formulations included non-urethane and urethane acrylates, silicone acrylates and an organic-inorganic hybrid acrylate. The “as drawn” fibers were tested for attenuation, mechanical reliability, microbend sensitivity, delamination resistance and coating stripability. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was used for estimating the use temperature of the coatings. In addition, the fibers were exposed to harsh environments, including dry aging in air (150°C) and in nitrogen (250°C), autoclaving, immersion in high pressure/temperature water (up to 200°C and 2000 psi) and immersion in a hot cable gel (160°C). Based on the obtained results, the best formulations were ranked for suitability in different types of fiber application.

Posted in: White Papers, Aeronautics, Defense, Optics, Photonics

Boosting Machine Vision with Built-in FPGA Image Preprocessing

Since imaging processing tasks can consume major CPU resources in machine vision applications, increasing processing performance within size constraints is, accordingly, a common challenge for solution providers. The following discusses the efficacy of FPGA in addressing such performance shortcomings, presents the image processing tasks most suitable for FPGA, and compares the capabilities of CPU and FPGA in operation. A built -in FPGA image preprocessing solution supporting machine vision app lications is then presented.

Posted in: White Papers, Imaging, Optics, Photonics, Automation, Robotics

How the Laser, Optic, & Photonic Industries Benefit from Electropolishing

Improve precision and cleanliness with an enhanced surface finish.

Like other industries that utilize electropolishing to finish metal components, there are many benefits associated with electropolishing metal components used in photonics, optics or laser applications.

Posted in: White Papers, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Medical, Optics, Photonics

Characterizing Richness of Previously Unmapped Terrain and Estimating its Impact on Navigation Performance using 3D Range Sensors in Flight

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

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, Optics, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Lidar, Surveillance, Terrain, Spacecraft

NASA’s Infrared Sensor Spots Near-Earth Asteroids

The Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) is part of a proposed NASA mission to find potentially hazardous asteroids. In a Q&A with Photonics & Imaging Technology, NEOCam principal investigator Amy Mainzer ex plains how the NEOCam chip, a stamp-sized mega pixel infrared sensor, detects the faint heat emitted by near-Earth objects circling the Sun.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Spacecraft

Advanced Digital Microscopes Providing Simple Solutions to Common Microscopy Issues

Thanks to a combination of high-quality optics and advanced digital imaging technology, today’s newest digital microscopes provide efficient solutions to a variety of common microscope challenges faced by users of conventional optical and digital microscopes. The following represent 10 conventional microscope issues and 10 solutions made possible with current digital microscope technology.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Photonics, Microscopy

Using UV LEDs to Cure Fiber Optic Cables

UV spot curing systems have been used in assembly processes for over 30 years. Historically, mercury arc lamps have been the curing source however, LED technology has recently advanced to where it provides a valuable solution for UV curing.

Posted in: White Papers, Optics, Photonics

Fiber Optic Rotary Joints Add a Spin to Sensing, Mobile, and Robotic Fiber Systems

To the passing optical signals, fiberoptic rotary joints (FORJs) are nothing more than fiber connectors, which provide connection between one or multiple fibers. Their unrestricted ability to rotate, however, gives them a critical role in many sensing, mobile, and robotic fiber systems such as ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), aerostat radars, submarines, satellite antennae, OCT (optical coherence tomography), mining vehicles, cranes, wind turbines, robotic vehicles, broadcasting (mobile cameras), etc. This article discusses some of the applications where optical rotary joints are indispensable.


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Posted in: White Papers, White Papers, Photonics

Compact, Lightweight, Athermal, Nanocomposite Telescopes with Freeform Optics

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Small space missions such as CubeSats frequently require telescopes with highly sophisticated optical systems that are also low in mass and cost. The very limited spacecraft volume and mass limits also preclude adjustments to maintain critical alignment with change in temperature. Existing systems, especially those that employ folded optical paths with freeform optics, are expensive to fabricate. The optics, and support and metering structures, are also heavy due to the use of high-density material such as glass, aluminum, or nickel.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Satellites

One-Micron (1064-nm) Planar External Cavity Laser (PLANEX)

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

A highly reliable, very low-phase and low-amplitude-noise laser is required as an oscillator for the LISA mission. A commercial product made by Redfern Integrated Optics met these requirements (1550 nm PLANEX External Cavity Laser), but it operated at 1.5 microns, not the required LISA wavelength of 1 micron. An ultra-low-noise External Cavity Laser was produced at a wavelength of 1 micron, and was integrated in a butterfly package. The goal is to eventually use this laser in the LISA and GRACE-II missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Lasers, Product development, Packaging

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