Photonics/​Optics

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

The system could one day replace LiDAR and cameras in automated manufacturing, biomedical imaging, and autonomous driving.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Nanosized Foldable Robots
The machines fold themselves within 100 milliseconds and can flatten and refold thousands of times.
Recent advances could make it feasible to deploy networks of methane sensors to detect this greenhouse gas at large facilities.
Applications include remote sensing, laser spectroscopy, and gas analysis.
This technology bends light more efficiently, enabling more immersive augmented reality display systems.
These tiny detectors could record characteristics of light such as color, polarity, and angle.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
AI System Discovers New Material
The algorithm identified a new compound potentially useful for photonic devices and biologically inspired computers.
This tool could help surgeons better treat tumors and brain diseases.
Movements of individual particles of light are reconstructed to see through clouds, fog, and other obstructions.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
High-Capacity Optical Data Storage Disk
Using gold nanomaterials, this disk can hold data securely for more than 600 years.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Synapse-Like Phototransistor
The technology could help computers process visual information more like the human brain.
The inexpensive cameras are easy to produce.
Artificial intelligence is used to decode X-ray images faster, which could aid innovations in medicine, materials, and energy.
The new photonic architecture could transform digital communications, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
One of the final hurdles to hydrogen power is securing a safe method for detecting hydrogen leaks.
Briefs: Nanotechnology
A Better Way to Measure Acceleration
Researchers have developed a millimeter-thick accelerometer.
A flexible, free-standing THz sensor array images blind ends of irregularly shaped objects.
Northwestern researchers have developed a new microscopy method that allows scientists to see the building blocks of “smart” materials being formed at the nanoscale.
Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Imaging Space Debris in High Resolution
A team has introduced a new method for taking high-res images of fast-moving and rotating objects in space, such as satellites or debris in low-Earth orbit.
Normally an insulator, diamond becomes a metallic conductor when subjected to large strain.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Oxide Dispersion Strengthened Medium Entropy Alloy
This additively manufactured alloy is tailored for high-temperature applications.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
System Helps Drones Detect and Avoid Power Lines
This technology provides drones sufficient time and distance to react, avoid wires, and navigate follow-on maneuvers.
Briefs: Motion Control
High-Torque Light-Powered Actuator
These actuators can compete with electrical and pneumatic systems.
Briefs: Aerospace
Fast-Tunable Laser System
The system provides high tuning capability and extreme simplicity.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
High-Power, Portable Terahertz Laser
The instrument could bring powerful sensing and imaging capabilities into hospitals, airports, or other settings.
This compact beam steering technology has applications in autonomous navigation, AR, and neuroscience.
Applications include spectroscopy and LiDAR.
The device recharges the internal battery of implants without invasive surgery.
The single piece of glass produces crisp panoramic images.

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