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 : Imaging
Camera Enables Surgeons to More Easily Identify Cancerous Tissue

Many surgeons rely on sight and touch to find cancerous tissue during surgery. Large hospitals or cancer treatment centers may also use experimental near-infrared fluorescent agents that bind to tumors so surgeons can see them on specialized displays. These machines are costly,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Shaping Light with a Smartlens

High quality camera performance on mobile devices has proven to be one of the features that most end-users aim for. The importance of optical image quality improvement and the trend to have thinner and thinner...

Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Briefs : Imaging
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
A new imaging method extracts a color image from a single exposure of light scattered through a mostly opaque material.
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Briefs : Transportation
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras

UCLA engineers have made major improvements on their design of an optical neural network — a device inspired by how the human brain works — that can identify objects or process...

Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses
Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses

Most of us know optical lenses as curved, transparent pieces of plastic or glass, designed to focus light for microscopes, spectacles, cameras, and more. For the most part, a...

Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Web-Based Technology Assesses Structural Health
Web-Based Technology Assesses Structural Health

Understanding how cars, planes, bridges, and other structures handle vibrations and dynamic loads can be critical to their design and performance. Researchers have developed a new way to...

Web-Based Technology Assesses Structural Health
Briefs : Materials
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are employed to locate cancerous tumors and aid in the development of treatment plans, while nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines are used to...

Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Briefs : Test & Measurement
X-ray Measurement Approach Could Improve CT Scanners

A new measurement approach could lead to a better way to calibrate computed tomography (CT) scanners, potentially streamlining patient treatment by improving communication among doctors.

Briefs : Wearables
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics

Contact lenses that can monitor the wearer’s health and correct eyesight use embedded electronics. These, and other curved devices such as solar cells and electronics, could be...

Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors

A method was developed to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices to report on what they perceive. Electronically active 2D materials, touted for their strength, are difficult to move to...

Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Briefs : Materials
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission

Engineers at the University of Illinois have found a way to redirect misfit light waves to reduce energy loss during optical data transmission. In a study,...

Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials

A process was developed for producing oxide perovskite crystals in flexible, free-standing layers. A two-dimensional rendition of this substance is intriguing because 2D materials have been shown to...

New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
Briefs : Imaging
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images

Supersonic flight over land is generally prohibited because sonic booms created by shockwaves disturb people on the ground and can damage property. Armstrong innovators are working to...

Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Briefs : Data Acquisition
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets

Systems such as magnetic data storage devices and MRI body scan machines rely on magnets made from solid materials. Now, using a modified 3D printer, scientists have made magnetic devices from...

3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light
Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light

A method was developed that enables information to be contained in simple plastic foils with a thickness of less than 50 μm, which is thinner than a human hair. Organic luminescent molecules...

Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light
Briefs : Materials
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 : Photonics/Optics
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Test & Measurement
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 : Aerospace
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 : Motion Control
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Test & Measurement
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 : Energy
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