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.

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Compact Infrared Spectrometer
This device fits on a computer chip but can analyze infrared light in the same way as a conventional spectrometer.

Rectennas convert electromagnetic fields at optical frequencies directly to electrical current. Optical rectennas operate by coupling light’s electromagnetic field to an...

Ultra-thin and flexible metalenses could replace traditional camera lenses.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Kodiak 3D LiDAR
This system provides low-cost, reliable 3D LiDAR images in nearly any lighting condition.
This system treats light-responsive disorders or deficits such as eating disorders, sleep problems, hormone-sensitive cancers, and cardiovascular disorders.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensitive Optical Receivers for Space
This concept could help break through the present-day data-return bottleneck in deep space missions.
Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Low-Energy Nanolaser Shines in all Directions
Compared to a LED, the omnidirectional laser light is much brighter and better defined.
The material could enable cheaper and more environmentally friendly displays and large-area lighting.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Smart Fabric Detects and Collects Space Dust
A smart fiber being tested on the International Space Station could be used to develop space dust telescopes and allow astronauts to feel through their pressurized suits.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensing Magnetic Fields
Applications include detection of explosives, navigation, and aerospace altitude sensing.
A stretchable system can harvest energy from human breathing and motion.
Applications include terahertz medical imaging and communications.
This rapid and cost-effective technique yields a uniform etched surface with 99.5 percent emissivity.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Split-Ring Torque Sensor
This optical-based device measures position, velocity, and torque.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Photonic Wireless System Powers Medical Implants
The system can recharge the internal battery of devices without invasive surgery or risky penetrative procedures.
This simple and inexpensive design achieves high-quality ozone measurements.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Platform for All-Optical Computing
Computations are done solely with beams of light.
Invisible displays on walls and windows would be bright when turned on but invisible when turned off.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Cascaded Offset Optical Modulator
This subsystem is used in free-space optical communications and fiber-optic communications.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Method Tests Microscopic Aeronautical Materials
This process breaks the temperature barrier in small-scale materials testing.
This technique for optical data transmission from satellites uses laser arrays to provide fine pointing capability.
Any high-performance communication systems operating in RF or optical frequencies may benefit from this system.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
3D X-Ray Imager for 3D Object Retrieval
Applications include characterizing additively manufactured components and baggage screening.
The camera collects the spatial and spectral information required for self-driving cars, machine vision, corrosion detection, and other applications.
Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Printable Light Sensors Can See Colors
Printable organic photodiodes can distinguish wavelengths and enable data transmission by light.
Adaptable automation reduces manufacturing time and costs.
With low-cost materials called perovskites, stable, continuous lasing is achieved at room temperature for over an hour.
See how tantalum disulfide is supporting new kinds of optics, and potentially new kinds of application for VR and self-driving cars.
MIT engineers are envisioning robots more like home helpers.

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