Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Linear Encoders Enable More Accurate Observation of the Sun

HEIDENHAIN Corporation
Schaumburg, IL

Scientists know surprisingly little about what happens on the Sun. Solar researchers want to change this with the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics (KIS) in Freiburg, Germany is developing a Visible Tunable Filter (VTF) for this project. With a mirror diameter of four meters, it will be the largest solar telescope in the world, and therefore will provide a very detailed view of the Sun’s surface. The filter adjustment is controlled by HEIDENHAIN linear encoders with an accuracy of under one nanometer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

Carbon Nanotube-Based Coatings Provide Extremely-High Surface Emissivity

Santa Barbara Infrared (SBIR) and Surrey NanoSystems (SNS) have partnered to produce a line of extended-area blackbody sources with exceptionally-high emissivity and radiometric accuracy. The emitter plates in these sources feature a carbon nanotube (CNT) based coating with remarkable light-trapping properties. This ultra-black coating was developed by SNS to satisfy a broad range of applications requiring surfaces with extremely low reflectance. The resulting blackbody sources provide more accurate infrared (IR) radiometric calibration than previously achievable by drastically reducing errors due to reflected IR light from the surrounding environment. The coating also works to reduce stray light in optical and IR imaging systems.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics

Flexible Liquid Lens Simplifies Inspection

When you buy a new car, you can choose from a wide range of exterior and interior features, transmission and dynamics, and safety bundles, to configure your individual vehicle. From the point of view of engine manufacturing, this entails a wide range of designs and sizes. To meet demands for high quality, the manufacturer must test their engines according to industry-specific guidelines and quality standards. Industrial vision systems make an important contribution to quality assurance and increased efficiency in engine manufacturing. There used to only be a small range of products, whereas nowadays fully automated evaluation of a wide variety of large components and complex geometries is required. A single component may call for as many as 100 features to be inspected in different positions.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics

Robotic Vision Keeps an Assembly Plant at Home

A major manufacturer of electromechanical products had been operating six separate indexing assembly machines, each producing one of a family of more than 75 different products at about 40 parts per minute. The machines frequently sat idle as demand fluctuated for the various products. Labor expenses were high since each machine required a dedicated operator. The manufacturer considered moving the six machines and their entire production offshore to reduce labor expenses and save floor space at its European facility.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Robotics, Inspections

Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors

The effectiveness of airborne search and rescue, navigation, and situational awareness tasks is predicated on the availability of high-resolution imagery that provides pilots with a clear picture and the widest possible field of view. While the human eye is extremely high resolution with an unmatched ability to detect high-spatial-frequency (HSF) objects across a wide field of regard, human vision can easily fatigue, is subject to environmental conditions, and is vastly degraded at night.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Surveillance, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Surveillance, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics, Rescue operations, Aircraft

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, Measurements, Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Performance tests

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, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Biomechanics

Optical Fiber for NASA's Next Climate-Viewing Satellite

Polymicro Technologies™ optical fiber
Lisle, IL
Posted in: Application Briefs, Fiber Optics, Optics, Fiber optics, Fiber optics, Weather and climate, Polymers, Satellites

Autonomous Driving — In a ‘Flash’

By combining CMOS technology with avalanche photodiodes, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS (Duisburg, Germany) have developed a potentially cost-effective sensor prototype that aims to support driverless car applications. The “Flash LiDAR” could play a valuable role alongside the cameras, radars, and other components within autonomous vehicles.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Lidar, Sensors and actuators, Lidar, Sensors and actuators, Product development, Semiconductors, Autonomous vehicles

ViDAR Optical Radar Provides New Maritime Search Capability

ViDAR, developed by Sentient Vision Systems in Melbourne Australia, provides autonomous, real-time, wide-area search capability, optically, from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or manned aircraft. ViDAR, which stands for Visual Detection and Ranging, essentially acts as an optical radar, using high-megapixel video or infrared cameras to search the ocean over significantly greater operational coverage areas than can be achieved with current optical sensor approaches.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Surveillance, Optics, Surveillance, Performance upgrades, Product development, Fixed-wing aircraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles

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