Tech Briefs

Photonics & Imaging

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on photonics and imaging, from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature
Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature

3D printing via direct laser writing involves a computer-controlled focused laser beam that acts as a pen and creates the desired structure in the printer ink — a photoresist. In this...

Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Mobile, Dual-Comb Device for Methane Leak Detection
Mobile, Dual-Comb Device for Methane Leak Detection

Accurately detecting, locating, and quantifying leaks of methane — the main component of natural gas and a major fuel source worldwide — is critically important for both environmental...

Mobile, Dual-Comb Device for Methane Leak Detection
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Robot “Eye” Provides 360° Field of View
Robot “Eye” Provides 360° Field of View

The production of precision products depends on robot control systems knowing the location of the adhesive bonding head or welding head to the nearest millimeter at all times. This means the robot...

Robot “Eye” Provides 360° Field of View
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Optical Distance Measurement at Record-High Speed
Optical Distance Measurement at Record-High Speed

Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and École Poly-technique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have reported that they achieved the fastest distance measurement attained so...

Optical Distance Measurement at Record-High Speed
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Calibration Method Improves Scientific Research Performed with Smartphone Cameras
Calibration Method Improves Scientific Research Performed with Smartphone Cameras

Although smartphones and other consumer cameras are increasingly used for scientific applications, it's difficult to compare and combine data from different...

Calibration Method Improves Scientific Research Performed with Smartphone Cameras
Briefs : Materials
Magnetic Metamaterial Amplifies MRI
Magnetic Metamaterial Amplifies MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of organs and tissues in the human body, helping doctors diagnose potential problems or diseases. Doctors use MRI to...

Magnetic Metamaterial Amplifies MRI
Briefs : Materials
Simultaneous Imaging and Friction Measurement with an In-Situ Tribometer
Simultaneous Imaging and Friction Measurement with an In-Situ Tribometer

Different instruments are needed to study the interaction of contact surfaces at different length scales. Tribometers measure the coefficient of friction but they...

Simultaneous Imaging and Friction Measurement with an In-Situ Tribometer
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Multi- and Wide-Band Single-Feed Patch Antenna

A novel patch antenna technology was developed that provides significant benefits to NASA satellite communication applications, offering a unique wide-band/multi-band operating capability. For other non-space applications, the antenna design also offers broadband capability with high gain for...

Briefs : Aerospace
Antenna Near-Field Probe Station Scanner

Antenna characterization techniques are often expensive and time-consuming. NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed a highly versatile and automated system to perform characterization of single or multiple small circuit antennas, printed on-wafer or on other substrates, by measuring the antenna’s...

Briefs : Materials
3D-Printed Polymer-Based Foam Structure Responds to Shock Waves
3D-Printed Polymer-Based Foam Structure Responds to Shock Waves

A 3D-printed polymer-based foam structure was developed that responds to the force of a shock wave to act as a oneway switch, a long sought-after goal in shock research. The...

3D-Printed Polymer-Based Foam Structure Responds to Shock Waves
Briefs : Communications
Laser-Pointing System Transmits Data from Tiny Satellites
Laser-Pointing System Transmits Data from Tiny Satellites

Since 1998, almost 2,000 shoebox-sized satellites known as CubeSats have been launched into space. Due to their small frame and the fact that they can be made from off-the-shelf...

Laser-Pointing System Transmits Data from Tiny Satellites
Briefs : Nanotechnology
New Imaging Method Aids in Water Decontamination
New Imaging Method Aids in Water Decontamination

A breakthrough imaging technique developed by Cornell researchers shows promise in decontaminating water by yielding surprising and important information about catalyst particles that can't be...

New Imaging Method Aids in Water Decontamination
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces

At the scale of bridges or buildings, the most important force that engineered structures need to deal with is gravity. But at the scale of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — devices like...

Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Precise Temperature Measurements with Invisible Light
Precise Temperature Measurements with Invisible Light

A portable, stable, standards-quality radiation thermometer was invented that can measure temperatures between -50 °C (-58 °F) to 150 °C (302 °F). The corresponding infrared...

Precise Temperature Measurements with Invisible Light
Briefs : Energy
Material for Faster Computer Memory

Scientists are studying bismuth ferrite (BFO) material that has the potential to store information much more efficiently than is currently possible. BFO could also be used in sensors, transducers, and other electronics.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses for Treating Tumors
Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses for Treating Tumors

Microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body have been developed that also can treat tumors in the...

Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses for Treating Tumors
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Spotting Objects Amid Clutter
Spotting Objects Amid Clutter

A new MIT-developed technique enables robots to quickly identify objects hidden in a three-dimensional cloud of data, reminiscent of how some people can make sense of a densely patterned “Magic Eye” image if...

Spotting Objects Amid Clutter
Briefs : Materials
Organic Carbon-Nitride Semiconductor
Organic Carbon-Nitride Semiconductor

Some organic materials cannot be utilized similarly to silicon semiconductors in optoelectronics. Whether in solar cells, light-emitting diodes, or in transistors, what is important is the bandgap, i.e....

Organic Carbon-Nitride Semiconductor
Briefs : Imaging
Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure
Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure

When light gets scattered as it passes through a translucent material, the emerging pattern of “speckle” looks as random as static on a television screen with no signal. But it...

Decoding Multiple Frames from a Single, Scattered Exposure
Briefs : Imaging
System Provides “Electric Eyesight” for Autonomous Vehicles
System Provides “Electric Eyesight” for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles relying on light-based image sensors often struggle to see through blinding conditions such as fog. Sub-terahertz wavelengths, which are between microwave...

System Provides “Electric Eyesight” for Autonomous Vehicles
Briefs : Imaging
Technique Makes Objects Invisible to Image Detection Systems
Technique Makes Objects Invisible to Image Detection Systems

Adversarial techniques were developed that can make objects “invisible” to image detection systems that use deep-learning algorithms. These techniques can also trick systems...

Technique Makes Objects Invisible to Image Detection Systems
Briefs : Imaging
Automated Object Detection in an Image

Recent developments in machine vision have demonstrated remarkable improvements in the ability of computers to properly identify objects in a viewing field. Most of these advances rely on color-texture analyses that require target objects to possess one or more highly distinctive, local features that can be...

Briefs : Imaging
Microfocus, Dual-Energy Imaging System Improves Contaminant Detection

Contamination of food with fragments of bone, metal, glass, or other foreign material is a major concern in the food industry. Current inspection technologies often miss very small fragments embedded in meat or other soft materials or lead to ambiguous results that require...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Full-Color Holograms Can Be Viewed With Low Light
Full-Color Holograms Can Be Viewed With Low Light

Researchers have created inexpensive, full-color, 2D and 3D holograms that are more realistic and brighter, and can be viewed at wider angles than current holograms.

Full-Color Holograms Can Be Viewed With Low Light
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Visualizing Motion of Water Molecules for Liquid-Based Electronics

A high-resolution inelastic x-ray scattering technique was used to measure the strong bond involving a hydrogen atom sandwiched between two oxygen atoms. This hydrogen bond is a quantum-mechanical phenomenon responsible for various properties of water, including viscosity, that...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing
Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing

It has been known since the early 1960s that hexagonal sampling is the optimal sampling approach for isotropically band-limited images, providing a 13.4% improvement in sampling efficiency over...

Efficient Hexagonally Sampled Image Processing
Briefs : Imaging
Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules
Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules

Until about 20 years ago, scientists relied on chemical fluorescent dyes to make biological molecules visible. To look inside cells, stain organelles, and perform...

Method Adjusts Structure of Dyes to Create Colorful Fluorescent Molecules