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Optical Coatings

L-3 Applied Optics Center (Dallas, TX), part of L-3 Communications, Warrior Systems, recently coated thirteen large optical elements for a major national telescope. The largest of the elements was over 27 inches in diameter and weighed over 300 pounds. The anti-reflective and highly reflective thin film optical coatings deposited by AOC on the various elements were specifically designed by Applied Optics Center to enhance the overall performance of the telescope, and to ensure its long-term mission success.

Posted in: Products, Photonics

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White Light Measurement Solution

Hexagon Metrology (North Kingston, RI) has released WLS qFLASH, a compact white light solution (WLS), a non-contact, stereo vision system used to quickly capture 3D measurements on the shop floor. The portable solution creates reports and digitizes acquired data on the spot for analysis or direct CAD comparison.

Posted in: Products, Photonics

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Hyperspectral Imaging What is it? How does it work?

Hyperspectral imaging has grown increasingly popular over the past ten years in military, industrial, and scientific arenas. The ability to precisely characterize the color of a viewed item, whether a camouflaged vehicle, a bruise on an arm or on fruit, or a wide swath of vegetation, allows the user to make informed decisions only dreamed of in the past. What once required large, delicate, and expensive laboratory spectrometers is now being done in real time aboard satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, and portable handheld units.

Posted in: Photonics, Application Briefs

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V-Assembly Dual-Head Efficiency Resonator (VADER) Laser Transmitter

The combined features form a unit with new performance levels. A complete demonstration breadboard unit for advanced development as a high-TRL (technology readiness level) system has been constructed and characterized. Infusion of several new component technologies, such as ceramic:YAG material and high-power laser diode arrays (LDAs), combined with a proprietary minimal part count architecture, has resulted in dramatic performance gains. The proprietary dual-head configuration employs a pair of side-pumped laser slabs, optically in series in the cavity, but at opposing polarization orientations. This promises tremendous power range scalability, simplified and symmetrical thermal lens control, unprecedented stored energy extraction efficiency, and inherent diffraction limited TEM00 beam quality.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Twin Head Efficient Oscillator Development for the ACE Multi- Beam Lidar and 3D-Winds

This technology is applicable to atmospheric lidar, Doppler wind measurements, interplanetary laser communications, and materials processing. The Twin Head Efficient Oscillator (THEO) concept uses a pair of smaller, identical laser pump modules, oriented to remove asymmetrical thermo-optical effects typical in single-slab lasers such as HOMER (High Output Maximum Efficiency Resonator), MLA (Mercury Laser Altimeter), LOLA Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, and GLAS (Geoscience Laser Altimeter), while simultaneously increasing efficiency and lifetime. This creates 100+ mJ pulses in an oscillator-only design, with reduced risk of optical damage, record efficiency, high stability, long life, and high TEM00 beam quality typical of much smaller rod-based cavities. Near-field-beam quality is critical to efficient second harmonic generation (SHG 532 nm), which is typically poor in slab-based Nd:YAG lasers.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Planetary Polarization Nephelometer

Instrument provides more detailed information on aerosols encountered in a planetary environment. Aerosols in planetary atmospheres have a significant impact on the energy balance of the planets, yet are often poorly characterized. An in situ instrument was developed that would provide more diagnostic information on the nature of aerosols it encountered if deployed on a planetary descent probe. Previous probe instruments only measured intensity phase functions, but much particle ambiguity remains with only this information. Adding the polarization phase function greatly reduces particle characteristic ambiguities, but also adds more challenges in designing a measurement approach. Laboratory instrumentation to measure intensity and polarization phase functions have existed since the early 1970s, but these instruments employed quarter-wave plates and Pockels cells to modulate the illuminating beam and the scattered light to isolate the intensity and polarization phase functions. Both of these components are unstable except under tightly controlled thermal conditions. This solution avoids the use of thermally sensitive components such as quarter- wave plates or Pockels cells, and avoids requiring the detectors to be placed around the sensing volume.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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GaSb-Based Diode Lasers for Remote Detection of Carbon Dioxide

Lidar systems measure carbon dioxide to understand better the impact of the carbon cycle on global warming and climate change. Monolithic ridge-waveguide GaSbbased diode lasers were fabricated with a second-order, laterally etched Bragg grating to generate single-mode emission from InGaAsSb/AlGaAsSb multiquantum- well structures. In this design, the monolithic Type-I GaSb-based diode lasers use grating structures that exhibit low internal loss. The frequency-stable diode lasers meet the needs of high power (>50 mW) and narrow linewidth (≈100 kHz). These devices are strong candidates for replacement of the solidstate light sources. Furthermore, this design is not limited to this wavelength. By optimizing the quantum well, and the optical design, this innovation can adapt to any wavelength within the 2-to-3-μm spectral window with similar performance.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs

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