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
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 : Imaging
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
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
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
Briefs : Imaging
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels

Following severe trauma, patients may have tissue damage or open wounds that require reconstructive surgery using fasciocutaneous flaps. These flaps of tissue, which are taken from...

Surgeons Use Augmented Reality to Reconnect Blood Vessels
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 : Electronics & Computers
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality

Accurately measuring semiconductor properties of materials in small volumes helps engineers determine the range of applications for which these materials may be suitable in the...

More Sensitive Measurement of Semiconductor Material Quality
Briefs : Imaging
Face-Tracking Robot
Face-Tracking Robot

A robot is being developed that tracks facial movements to perform human tasks. The robot resembles large, squiggly arms holding tiny cameras. Sitting in a rolling office chair across from one of the arms, the robot's...

Face-Tracking Robot
Briefs : Energy
Breakthrough Could Enable Infrared Cameras for Electronics, Self-Driving Cars
Breakthrough Could Enable Infrared Cameras for Electronics, Self-Driving Cars

There's an entire world our eyes miss, hidden in the ranges of light wavelengths that human eyes can't see. But infrared cameras can pick up this light emitted as...

Breakthrough Could Enable Infrared Cameras for Electronics, Self-Driving Cars
Briefs : Internet of Things
Bringing Human-Like Reasoning to Driverless Car Navigation
Bringing Human-Like Reasoning to Driverless Car Navigation

With the aim of bringing more human-like reasoning to autonomous vehicles, MIT researchers have created a system that uses only simple maps and visual data to enable driverless cars...

Bringing Human-Like Reasoning to Driverless Car Navigation
Briefs : Imaging
Revolutionary Camera Allows Scientists to Predict Evolution of Ancient Stars
Revolutionary Camera Allows Scientists to Predict Evolution of Ancient Stars

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have been working with HiPERCAM, a high-speed, multicolor camera, which is capable of taking more than 1,000 images per...

Revolutionary Camera Allows Scientists to Predict Evolution of Ancient Stars
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D Printing of Flexible Circuits

A process was developed for 3D printing that can be used to produce transparent and mechanically flexible electronic circuits. The electronics consist of a mesh of silver nanowires that can be printed in suspension and embedded in various flexible and transparent plastics (polymers). This technology can enable...

Briefs : Imaging
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids
Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids

By capping liquids with graphene (an ultrathin sheet of pure carbon), researchers can easily image and analyze liquid interfaces and the surface of nanometer-scale objects...

Graphene Lid Extends Photoemission Electron Microscopy to Liquids
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Integrated Silicon Photonic Switch Demonstrates Lowest Signal Loss Ever in High-Speed Data Transmission
Integrated Silicon Photonic Switch Demonstrates Lowest Signal Loss Ever in High-Speed Data Transmission

Experimental photonic switches developed at UC Berkeley have shown promise toward the goal of fully optical, high-capacity switching for...

Integrated Silicon Photonic Switch Demonstrates Lowest Signal Loss Ever in High-Speed Data Transmission
Motion Design : Imaging
Model Gives Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation
Model Gives Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation

A new learning system improves a robot’s ability to mold materials into target shapes and make predictions about interacting with solid objects and liquids. The system, known as a...

Model Gives Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation
Briefs : Wearables
Graphene-Based Technology for Wearable Health Monitoring
Graphene-Based Technology for Wearable Health Monitoring

Graphene Flagship partner ICFO, based in Barcelona, Spain is developing graphene-based prototypes that aim to turn mobile phones into life saving devices. The first of these will allow...

Graphene-Based Technology for Wearable Health Monitoring
Briefs : Markets
Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month
Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month

An ingestible pill was developed that, upon reaching the stomach, quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy ping-pong ball big enough to stay in the stomach for an...

Ingestible, Expanding Pill Monitors the Stomach for Up to a Month
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Design Software Identifies a Product's Performance Tradeoffs

Designing any product — from complex car parts to wrenches — is a balancing act with conflicting performance tradeoffs. Making something lightweight, for instance, may compromise its durability.

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography
Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center improved their Flash Thermography capabilities by incorporating transient and lock-in thermography. By...

Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures Using Transient and Lock-in Thermography
Briefs : Imaging
3D Printable Sensors Disposed of Without Contaminating the Environment
3D Printable Sensors Disposed of Without Contaminating the Environment

Simon Fraser University and Swiss researchers are developing an eco-friendly, 3D printable solution for producing wireless Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors that can be...

3D Printable Sensors Disposed of Without Contaminating the Environment
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Self-Powered, Washable, Wearable Displays

Clothing usually is formed with textiles and has to be both wearable and washable for daily use; however, smart clothing has had a problem with its power sources and moisture permeability, which causes the devices to malfunction. To solve this problem, a textile-based, wearable display module technology...

Briefs : Imaging
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors
Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors

Researchers have created stretchable, rubbery semiconductors including rubbery integrated electronics, logic circuits, and arrayed sensory skins fully based on rubber materials. The semiconductors have...

Stretchable, Rubbery Semiconductors
Sensor Technology : Wearables
Stretchable Interlaced-Nanowire Film for Ultraviolet Photodetectors with High Response Speed
Stretchable Interlaced-Nanowire Film for Ultraviolet Photodetectors with High Response Speed

Stretchable electronics, which can be stretched, deformed and wrapped onto nonplanar curved surfaces, have attracted much attraction due to their...

Stretchable Interlaced-Nanowire Film for Ultraviolet Photodetectors with High Response Speed
Briefs : Communications
Single-Photon Detector for Potential Encryption and Sensing
Single-Photon Detector for Potential Encryption and Sensing

Light is widely used for communications, carrying phone conversations and video signals through fiber optic cables around the world in pulses composed of many photons. Single...

Single-Photon Detector for Potential Encryption and Sensing
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Programming Light on a Chip
Programming Light on a Chip

Microwave signals are ubiquitous in wireless communications but interact too weakly with photons. A technique was developed to fabricate high-performance optical microstructures using lithium niobate, a material...

Programming Light on a Chip
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
All-Fiber, Optically Controlled Optical Switch

An optical switch is a device where information-bearing light may be directed to one of several outputs. Prior art optical switches have mainly been integrated optical waveguide structures such as titanium-diffused (Ti) waveguides in lithium-niobate (LiNbO3) or gallium-arsenide (GaAs)...