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.

Briefs : Imaging
Compound-Lens Camera for Industry and Smartphones

A process has been developed that enables the production of a 2-mm flat camera. The lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets, similar to the eyes of an insect. The facetVISION camera is...

Briefs : Imaging
Algorithm Enables Faster Analysis of Medical Images

Medical image registration is a common technique that involves overlaying two images, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, to compare and analyze anatomical differences in great...

Briefs : Imaging
Blue-Light Imaging Sees Through Fire

A blue-light imaging method was developed that can be used to obtain visual data from large test fires where high temperatures could disable or destroy conventional electrical and mechanical sensors. The...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Low-Light Night Vision Imaging and Video Capture

Conventional night vision goggles all use image intensification (I2) tube technology that multiplies ambient, visible, and near-infrared light several thousands of times, allowing a user to see and operate in very-low-light conditions. One shortcoming of I2 tube night vision devices is that they...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optimetric Measurements Over Coherent Free-Space Optical Communication

High-precision ranging (optimetric) instruments are highly desired for both space navigation and communications as well as gravitational-based science missions. Traditionally, these measurements are made with instruments solely dedicated to ranging (i.e. Doppler shift of a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
New Laser for Improving Telecommunications and Computing

The first laser based on the wave physics phenomenon called bound states in the continuum (BIC) has been developed. The technology could revolutionize the development of surface...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Portable Acousto-Optic Spectrometers

Spectrometers are widely used for applications such as chemical analysis, remote sensing, quality control, environmental monitoring, spaceborne measurements, and optical measurements. Most spectrometers...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Dynamic Optical Grating Device for Modulating Light

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel optical grating device that dynamically modulates light and is capable of controlling the spectral properties and propagation of light...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Using Sound Waves to Produce Optical Isolators

There are challenges involved when using magnetically responsive materials to achieve the one-way flow of light in a photonic chip, including the ability to place compact magnets on a chip. In...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Active Pointing Monitor for a 2-Axis Optical Control System

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a pointing measurement detection and control system that monitors the real-time optical axis motions (such as tip and tilt) that affect image quality in aerial platforms. To date, there is no known real-time optical image alignment and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method Enables Electronic Components to be Printed Like Newspapers

Cellphones, laptops, tablets, and many other electronics rely on their internal metallic circuits to process information at high speed. Current metal fabrication techniques...

Briefs : Imaging
Super-Resolution Image Reconstruction (SRIR)

Many low-cost sensors (or cameras) may spatially or electronically under-sample an image. Similarly, cameras taking pictures from great distances, such as aerial photos, may not obtain detailed...

Briefs : Imaging
Retinal Prosthesis Stimulates Nerve Cells

Fabricated using inexpensive and widely available organic pigments used in printing inks and cosmetics, an artificial retina was developed that consists of tiny pixels like a digital camera sensor on...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Ultra-Thin Camera Creates Images Without Lenses

Traditional cameras — even those on the thinnest cellphones — cannot be truly flat due to their optics. The lenses require a certain shape and size in order to function. A new camera design...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
On-Chip Optical Filter Processes Wide Range of Light Wavelengths

MIT researchers have designed an optical filter on a chip that can process optical signals from across an extremely wide spectrum of light at once, something never before...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Next-Generation Photodetector Camera to Deploy During Robotic Servicing Demonstration Mission

An advanced, highly compact thermal camera that traces its heritage to one now flying on NASA's Landsat 8 has been mounted in a corner of NASA's...

News : Photonics/Optics
New Camera Gives Surgeons a Butterfly's-Eye View of Cancer

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis have developed a surgical camera inspired by the eye of the morpho butterfly. The...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Shrimp-Inspired Camera May Enable Underwater Navigation

The underwater environment may appear to the human eye as a dull-blue, featureless space. However, a vast landscape of polarization patterns appear when viewed through a camera that is...

Briefs : Imaging
Novel Optics for Ultrafast Cameras Create New Possibilities for Imaging

MIT researchers have developed novel photography optics that capture images based on the timing of reflecting light inside the optics instead of the traditional approach...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Cell-Sized Robots Sense Their Environment

Colloids — insoluble particles or molecules anywhere from a billionth to a millionth of a meter across — are so small they can stay suspended indefinitely in a liquid or even in air. Robots about...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Two-Dimensional Semiconductor Materials Created Using Artificial “Superlattices”

One current method to build a semiconductor superlattice — materials comprised of alternating layers of ultra-thin, two-dimensional sheets only one or a...

Briefs : Transportation
Photonic Communication Comes to Computer Chips

With novel optoelectronic chips and a new partnership with a top silicon-chip manufacturer, MIT spinout Ayar Labs aims to increase speed and reduce energy consumption in computing, starting with...

Briefs : Materials
Conformal Metasurface Coating Eliminates Crosstalk and Shrinks Waveguides

Researchers have developed a method to simultaneously control diverse optical properties of dielectric waveguides by using a two-layer coating, each layer with a...

Briefs : Materials
Generating Light-Induced Electrical Current in Atomically Thin Nanomaterials

When hit with light, semiconductors (materials that have an electrical resistance in between that of metals and insulators) generate an electric current....

Briefs : Energy
3D-Printing Light Receptors on a Hemispherical Surface

Researchers have 3D-printed an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface. This discovery could lead to a “bionic eye” that could someday help blind people see or sighted...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Technique Creates Adaptive Materials

A technique that enables on-demand control of composite behavior could enable a variety of new capabilities for future rotorcraft design, performance, and maintenance. The focus of the research was on...

Briefs : Aerospace
Power Line Detection System for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Electrical power lines pose a serious crash hazard to helicopters and other air-based vehicles, especially small aerial vehicles such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This is because power lines are so widespread, hard to see, and strung at roughly the same height above the ground at...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Configuration Enables RFID Tags to Work as Sensors

The detection and localization of gas releases, such as methane from leaking natural gas pipelines or nitrogen oxides from failing electrical equipment, require high sensitivity to the target gas and insensitivity to non-target gases. Infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy gives highly specific...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Mass Sensor for Multi-Phase Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is offering opportunities for its new fiber optic mass flow sensor system. Capable of measuring multi-phase flows in a pipe, the technology is minimally invasive,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Switch Controls Light on a Nanoscale for Faster Information Processing

Photons, or units of light, are faster than electrons and could, therefore, process information faster from smaller chip structures. A switch was designed that bypasses a...