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Researchers Propose Modular Space Telescope

Researchers from California Institute of Technology are proposing the idea of a modular space telescope that could be assembled by robots. The space observatory would have a primary mirror with a diameter of 100 meters — 40 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Optical Components, Optics

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NASA Engineers Tapped to Build First Integrated-Photonics Modem

A NASA team has been tapped to build a new type of communications modem that will employ an emerging, potentially revolutionary technology that could transform everything from telecommunications, medical imaging, and advanced manufacturing to national defense. The space agency’s first-ever integrated-photonics modem will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2020 as part of NASA’s multi-year Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD.The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based functions, such as lasers, switches, and wires, onto a microchip — much like an integrated circuit found in all electronics hardware. Once aboard the space station, the so-called Integrated LCRD LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a low-Earth orbit terminal for NASA’s LCRD, demonstrating yet another capability for high-speed, laser-based communications.

Posted in: Articles, News, Photonics

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Tiny Lenses Capture Very Big View

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the first- ever flexible, Fresnel zone plate microlenses with a wide field of view — a development that could allow everything from surgical scopes to security cameras to capture a broader perspective. The advance centers on a method for creating tiny lenses, each the size of a grain of salt, embedded within a flexible plastic polymer. This approach allowed the researchers, led by Hongrui Jiang, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Lynn H. Matthias Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, to bend an array of multiple lenses into a cylindrical structure. An array of these miniscule lenses, each no larger than a head of a pin, can capture an almost complete panorama, producing images from a 170-degree field of view.

Posted in: Articles, News, Optics, Photonics

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Making 3D Objects Disappear

Invisibility cloaks are a staple of science fiction and fantasy, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, but don’t exist in real life. Or do they? Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have devised an ultra-thin invisibility “skin” cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. Although this cloak is only microscopic in size, the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up to conceal macroscopic items as well.A 3D illustration of a metasurface skin cloak made from an ultrathin layer of nanoantennas (gold blocks) covering an arbitrarily shaped object. Light reflects off the cloak (red arrows) as if it were reflecting off a flat mirror. (Credit: Xiang Zhang)

Posted in: Articles, News, Photonics

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New Spectroscopy Method Captures Reactions in Photosynthesis

A new spectroscopy method is bringing researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) closer to understanding – and artificially replicating – the solar water-splitting reaction at the heart of photosynthetic energy production. Understanding the step-by-step mechanism of photosynthesis could lead to methods of producing highly efficient solar energy. The spectroscopy method, a novel use of “2D HYSCORE,” is able to capture the reactions that split water and hydrogen peroxide in metal-containing proteins or metallo- enzymes in nature.Graphical representation of new method to capture reactions in photosynthesis.

Posted in: Articles, News, Photonics

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Physicist Develops New Laser Technique to Study Electronic Properties

It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Such was the case for Ames Laboratory physicist Adam Kaminski who took a challenge he was facing and turned it into a new solution that will help advance his research.Adam Kaminski’s homemade laser-powered light source. (Ames Laboratory)

Posted in: Articles, News, Lasers & Laser Systems

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Theory Turns into Reality for Nonlinear Optical Metamaterials

A research team has realized one of the long-standing theoretical predictions in nonlinear optical metamaterials: creation of a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. Such a material, which doesn’t exist naturally, had been predicted for nearly a decade.Metamaterial waveguide located at the center of a silicon chip, wired to an external circuit. A research team at Georgia Tech has created a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. (John Toon, Georgia Tech)

Posted in: Articles, News, Optical Components

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