When Stars Collide: LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves from ‘Kilonova’ Light Show

In the galaxy NGC 4993, located approximately 130 million light-years from Earth, two neutron stars collided. And, for the first time, scientists detected the gravitational waves to prove it. They may have even solved the long-standing mystery about the origin of gold and platinum.

Posted in: News, Aeronautics, Imaging, Materials, Optics
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2.2-Micron, Uncooled, InGaAs Photodiodes and Balanced Photoreceivers up to 25-GHz Bandwidth

These photodiodes have applications in LiDAR sensors, telecommunications links, and pulsed laser systems.

Traditional applications for 2-micron photodetectors have been largely dominated by passive remote sensing where detectors having bandwidth of even one megahertz are deemed sufficient. The onus in such applications is to achieve low dark current through active cooling. The advent of high-power, 2-micron-wavelength lasers has made coherent LiDARs viable for active sensing applications. Such a system needs photodetectors that can handle high local oscillator optical power and have large bandwidth. Through a combination of high coherent gain and small integration time, a large signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved. Operation at high optical power levels reduces the significance of photodiodes' dark current. As a result, uncooled operation at room temperature is feasible, simplifying the overall instrument design.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Compact, Lightweight, Athermal, Nanocomposite Telescopes with Freeform Optics

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, Photonics
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High-Resolution, Coherent, Dual-Tip Scanning Probe Microscope

This device improves resolution, and allows for direct and accurate interpretation of topographical features without the need for a reference lattice.

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has become one of the most powerful tools used in studying the surface structure of electrically conducting solid-state materials at an atomic resolution. Since its conception, the STM has had the greatest impact in the field of modern surface science because of its superior capability of characterizing and resolving the surface atomic structures and defects. Surface features such as atomic point defects, dislocations, and grain boundary identification can routinely be studied using a STM. Furthermore, STMs also allow the characterization of step structures at the atomic level during the processes of surface preparation and growth of semiconductors, such as epitaxial growth on semiconductor structures.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Fiber-Optic Environmental Radiation Dosimeter

An all-optical, fiber-optic-coupled remote radiation sensor was developed using luminescent, copper-doped quartz material. The key to the technology is the doped quartz material, which produces a luminescence signal that is directly proportional to the radiation dose.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by the Hubble Space Telescope. In order for such a large mirror to travel into space, it has to be broken up into multiple segments; in this case, 18 of them. But for the 18 to act as one primary mirror, they have to be adjusted while in orbit.

Posted in: INSIDER, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Optical Components, Optics
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Thin Photodetector Increases Performance Without Adding Bulk

In today’s increasingly powerful electronics, tiny materials are a must as manufacturers seek to increase performance without adding bulk. Smaller also is better for optoelectronic devices — like camera sensors or solar cells — which collect light and convert it to electrical energy. Think, for example, about reducing the size and weight of a series of solar panels, producing a higher-quality photo in low lighting conditions, or even transmitting data more quickly.

Posted in: INSIDER, Optical Components, Photonics, Sensors
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Single-Photon Emitter Holds Promise for Quantum Info-Processing

Los Alamos National Laboratory has produced the first known material capable of single-photon emission at room temperature and at telecommunications wavelengths. These carbon nanotube quantum light emitters may be important for optically-based quantum information processing and information security, while also being of significant interest for ultrasensitive sensing, metrology and imaging needs and as photon sources for fundamental advances in quantum optics studies.

Posted in: INSIDER, Photonics
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Laser Pulses Produce Sharp Images of Organs in Motion

Researchers have developed a photoacoustic imaging technique that uses lasers to create detailed ultrasound images in live animals. The method allows for complete internal body scans with enough spatiotemporal resolution to see active organs, circulating cancer cells, and brain function.

Posted in: INSIDER, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems
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Introducing the 2017 OEM Photonics & Imaging Directory

Looking for new cameras, lasers, or optics? Our 2017 OEM Photonics & Imaging Directory, featured in the September issue of Tech Briefs, reviews essential vendors.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Imaging, Machine Vision, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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