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.

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Thermal-Compensating Optics Housing
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Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Steering-Mirror-Assisted Laser Fine Pointing

Pointing precision is a critical element of instrumentation for optical communications and ranging in space, affecting laser design, link power budgets, and SWaP. While star trackers possess...

Briefs : Imaging
Decoding Multiple Frames From a Single Scattered Exposure

Engineers at Duke University have developed a way to extract a sequence of images from light scattered through a mostly opaque material — or even off a wall — from one long...

Briefs : Imaging
New X-Ray Scanning Method Reveals How Particles Move in Solution

A new method of X-ray scanning will allow for the visualization of many more biological molecules, providing critical information about what is inside molecules to scientists...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Computer Detects and Understands Body Language

Detecting the nuances of nonverbal communication between individuals will allow robots to serve in social spaces, enabling them to perceive what people around them are doing, what moods they are...

Briefs : Aerospace
Large-Scale Robotic Inkjet Printing System

Painting of surfaces having numerous facets and/or curved surfaces is a time-consuming process that requires the application of several coats (layers) of paint. Such surfaces are often found on...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Modular Cross-Platform System Gives High-Speed Pilots Better Visual Aids

The ability to fly at supersonic speed without producing unsettling sonic booms would re-open a path to faster commercial aviation. In pursuit of aerodynamics that...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Imaging System Makes Back Surgery Safer, Faster, Less Expensive

Researchers at Dartmouth have found a way to make back surgery safer, faster, and more cost effective. MRIs and CT scans can help surgeons identify spine problems such as...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Ultra-Thin “Meta-Lens” Enables Full-Color Imaging

Light of different colors travels at different speeds in different materials and structures. This is why we see white light split into its constituent colors after refracting through a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Imaging Technique Detects Skin Cancer Without Invasive Biopsy

Researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed a non-invasive imaging technique that accurately detects skin cancer...

Briefs : Imaging
Enhanced X-Ray Imaging Determines Molecular Structure

For more than 100 years, X-rays have been used in crystallography to determine the structure of molecules. At the heart of the method are the principles of diffraction and superposition,...

Briefs : Energy
Microscopy Technique Works at Extreme Heat

A stainless steel alloy — alloy 709 — has potential for elevated-temperature applications such as nuclear reactor structures. It is exceptionally strong and resistant to damage when exposed to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Computed Tomography Inspection Applications in Additive Manufacturing

The ability of additive manufacturing to manage small volumes, create complex designs, and fabricate lightweight but strong structures makes it a natural fit for aerospace...

Briefs : Medical
Compact Device for Detecting Rheumatoid Arthritis

A device that shows the difference between healthy fingers and arthritic fingers has been developed that combines ultrasound and photoacoustics medical imaging techniques. Combining these...

Briefs : Imaging
Method and Means to Analyze Thermographic Data Acquired During Automated Fiber Placement

Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machines can be susceptible to tow-tape defects such as gaps and overlaps. These can reduce strength between 7% and 32%....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Microresonators Offer Simpler Approach to Sensing With Light Pulses

Ultrashort optical pulses are becoming more and more relevant in a number of applications including distance measurement, molecular fingerprinting and ultrafast sampling....

Briefs : Materials
Materials Move in Response to Light

In biology, there are many examples where light induces movement or change — think of flowers and leaves turning toward sunlight. Magnetic elastomeric composites were developed that move in different...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Device Measures Laser Power in Real Time

Lasers play roles in many manufacturing processes, from welding car parts to crafting engine components with 3D printers. To control these tasks, manufacturers must ensure that their lasers fire at...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Hybrid, Wide-Range Detector Amplifier

Many applications require detection of both very small and very large signals. High-gain detector amplifiers provide low noise, but are easily swamped by large signals. Logarithmic amplifiers provide a...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Shape-Shifting Material Morphs Using Heat and Light

A controllable material was developed that can transform into complex, pre-programmed shapes via light and temperature stimuli, allowing it to morph into a different shape before fully...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Ancient Pigment Can Boost Energy Efficiency

Egyptian blue, derived from calcium copper silicate, was routinely used on ancient depictions of gods and royalty. Previous studies have shown that when Egyptian blue absorbs visible light, it then...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
3D Inks Can Be Erased Selectively

3D printing allows for the efficient manufacture of complex geometries. A very promising method is direct laser writing in which a computer-controlled focused laser beam acts as a pen and produces the...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Control of the Diameter and Chiral Angle Distributions During Production of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Pulsed laser vaporization (PLV) production of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) on traditional Co/Ni catalyst was explored with...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optically Transparent Polyimide Aerogels

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have expanded their growing portfolio of aerogels to include a new optically transparent polyimide aerogel. Aerogels — low-density, highly porous,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
3D Printer Creates Complex Biological Tissues

A technique was developed that uses a specially adapted 3D printer to build therapeutic biomaterials from multiple materials. The advance could be a step toward on-demand printing of complex...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sensor Combination Detects People by Smell

Trained rescue dogs are the best disaster workers — their sensitive noses help them track down people buried by earthquakes or avalanches. But dogs need breaks. A new measuring device is always...

Briefs : Transportation
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...

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