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 : Electronics & Computers
Laser-Based System Detects Fires Even in Dusty, Harsh Environments
Laser-Based System Detects Fires Even in Dusty, Harsh Environments
A new laser-based system offers an efficient way to detect fires in challenging environments such as industrial facilities or large construction sites.
Laser-Based System Detects Fires Even in Dusty, Harsh Environments
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Microchip Produces High-Contrast OCT Imagery
Microchip Produces High-Contrast OCT Imagery
For disease diagnosis, a microchip maps the back of the eye.
Microchip Produces High-Contrast OCT Imagery
Briefs : Aerospace
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
A system senses tiny changes in shadows on the ground to determine if there’s a moving object coming around the corner.
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sandia’s Nanoantennas Help Detectors See More Heat, Less Noise
Sandia’s Nanoantennas Help Detectors See More Heat, Less Noise
A nanoantenna-enabled detector boosts the usable signal of a thermal infrared camera by up to three times.
Sandia’s Nanoantennas Help Detectors See More Heat, Less Noise
Briefs : Imaging
Acoustic Interactions Change Materials at the Atomic Level
Acoustic Interactions Change Materials at the Atomic Level
Interaction of sound and light reveals new information of a crystal's quantum properties.
Acoustic Interactions Change Materials at the Atomic Level
Briefs : Communications
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Loosely connected disc-shaped “particles” can push and pull one another, moving together to transport objects.
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Magneto-Optic Biosensor Using Bio-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles
Magneto-Optic Biosensor Using Bio-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles
This technology is a novel, rugged, and economic diagnostic and sensor platform technology.
Magneto-Optic Biosensor Using Bio-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Shape Sensing Innovations Dramatically Improve Structural Design Tools
Shape Sensing Innovations Dramatically Improve Structural Design Tools
These advances are useful for transportation, infrastructure, and aerospace.
Shape Sensing Innovations Dramatically Improve Structural Design Tools
Briefs : Aerospace
Optical Window for Far-IR Instruments Using Thin TOPAS® Film
Optical Window for Far-IR Instruments Using Thin TOPAS® Film
This thin film can be used for ground-based and airborne applications in aircraft, balloons, and other flight missions.
Optical Window for Far-IR Instruments Using Thin TOPAS® Film
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Embedded Gas and Temperature Sensors for Extreme Environments

Innovative process control systems for improved efficiency and lower emissions in current and future fossil-fuel-based power systems and related applications require durable, embedded sensor technology that can operate at higher temperatures and in harsh conditions.

Briefs : Transportation
Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects
Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects

Radar technologies were originally designed to identify and track airborne military targets. Today, they're more often used to detect motor vehicles, weather formations,...

Low-Bandwidth Radar Technology Provides Improved Detection of Objects
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)
Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)

Current laser interferometry pressure pulse detection techniques use the shock-induced change in index of refraction to track detonation and/or shock fronts in a single fiber optic by reflecting laser...

Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors (EFOS)
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
This approach removes the limitation on peak power densities that exists for fiber lasers.
Free-Space Fiber Optic Laser Rod
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
This optical switch controls the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently.
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
RFID-based devices work in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions and could transmit data for years before they need to be replaced.
Photovoltaic-Powered Sensors
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
The method could impact optical imaging, vision correction, and disease diagnosis.
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Briefs : Materials
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
These polymers can combine thermal and optically fixable shape memory.
Optically Fixable Shape Memory Polymers
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
This system uses fiber optic strain sensing to detect and locate micrometeoroid/orbital debris.
MMOD Impact Detection and Location
Briefs : Energy
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
This multifunctional hybrid laminate composite can be used for residential and commercial construction.
Aerogel-Fiber Layered Laminate System
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
This innovation dynamically provides fast signal processing and precision measurement.
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
X-ray Measurement Approach Could Improve CT Scanners

A new measurement approach could lead to a better way to calibrate computed tomography (CT) scanners, potentially streamlining patient treatment by improving communication among doctors.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics

Contact lenses that can monitor the wearer’s health and correct eyesight use embedded electronics. These, and other curved devices such as solar cells and electronics, could be...

Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors

A method was developed to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices to report on what they perceive. Electronically active 2D materials, touted for their strength, are difficult to move to...

Form-Fitting Nanoscale Sensors
Briefs : Materials
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission

Engineers at the University of Illinois have found a way to redirect misfit light waves to reduce energy loss during optical data transmission. In a study,...

Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell
Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell

Researchers have developed a new self-calibrating endoscope that produces 3D images of objects smaller than a single cell without a lens or any optical, electrical, or...

Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell
Briefs : Imaging
Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Shaping Light with a Smartlens

High quality camera performance on mobile devices has proven to be one of the features that most end-users aim for. The importance of optical image quality improvement and the trend to have thinner and thinner...

Shaping Light with a Smartlens
Briefs : Materials
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
A new imaging method extracts a color image from a single exposure of light scattered through a mostly opaque material.
Recovering Color Images from Scattered Light
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras

UCLA engineers have made major improvements on their design of an optical neural network — a device inspired by how the human brain works — that can identify objects or process...

Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Briefs : Transportation
Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses
Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses

Most of us know optical lenses as curved, transparent pieces of plastic or glass, designed to focus light for microscopes, spectacles, cameras, and more. For the most part, a...

Mathematical Technique Quickly Tunes Next-Generation Lenses
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials

A process was developed for producing oxide perovskite crystals in flexible, free-standing layers. A two-dimensional rendition of this substance is intriguing because 2D materials have been shown to...

New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials
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