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 : Semiconductors & ICs
Thin, Durable Heating Patches

Thin, durable heating patches were created using intense pulses of light to fuse tiny silver wires with polyester. Their heating performance is nearly 70 percent higher than similar patches. The inexpensive...

Briefs : Materials
Metallic Hollow Nanoparticle Fabrication

NASA Langley Research Center has developed new methods for fabricating hollow nanoparticles using dendrimer molecules. Dendrimers are used as templates to control the size, stability, and solubility...

Briefs : Communications
Using Common WiFi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Chemicals in Bags

Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs, and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools, and other public venues using a low-cost suspicious...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Quantum Radio Aids Communications and Mapping

GPS signals do not penetrate very deeply or at all in water, soil, or building walls, and therefore can’t be used by submarines or in underground activities such as surveying mines. GPS also...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
The Teletenna — a Hybrid Telescope Antenna System

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a hybrid telescope antenna system — Teletenna — to deliver high-data-rate communication over great distances. Teletenna has...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Text Tech: Navy Vessels Use Shipboard Signal Lamps for Text Messaging

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions program, the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) features a camera that can be mounted atop a signal...

Briefs : Medical
Nano-Optic Endoscope Sees Deep into Tissue at High Resolution

The diagnosis of diseases based in internal organs often relies on biopsy samples collected from affected regions. But collecting such samples is highly error-prone due to the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Individual Quantum Dots Imaged in 3-D for the First Time

Researchers have developed an imaging technique that uses a tiny, super sharp needle to nudge a single nanoparticle into different orientations and capture 2-D images to help...

Briefs : Medical
New Fast, Economical Bioimaging Technique

Researchers at Rensselaer Poytechnic Institute (RPI) have developed a new approach to optical imaging that makes it possible to quickly and economically monitor multiple molecular interactions in a...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
New Engine Optics to Fuel Future Research

An optical setup developed by researchers at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark can now quantify the formation of soot — particulate matter consisting...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Marriage of Light-Manipulation Technologies

Researchers have, for the first time, integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems. In the...

Briefs : Imaging
Researchers Combine Metalens With an Artificial Muscle

Inspired by the human eye, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an adaptive metalens that is essentially a flat,...

Briefs : Materials
X-Ray Study of Low-Density Materials

It's hard to get an X-ray image of low-density material like tissue between bones because X-rays just pass right through like sunlight through a window. Sandia studies myriads of low-density materials,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
“Light-Written” Photonic Memory Devices

Light is the most energy-efficient way to move information; however, light shows one big limitation: it is difficult to store. Data centers, for example, rely primarily on magnetic hard drives in...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Graphene's Magic Is in the Defects

A team of researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Center for Neural Science has solved a longstanding puzzle of how to build ultra-sensitive, ultra-small, electrochemical...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Artificial Intelligence Device Identifies Objects at the Speed of Light

Numerous devices in everyday life use computerized cameras to identify objects — think of automated teller machines that can “read” handwritten dollar amounts when...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Micro-Mirror Optical Tracking and Ranging System

An innovative optical sensing and tracking system was designed to detect, track, and determine object distance and direction in a wide, full, solid angle (160 × 160°) with an extremely high...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Thermal-Compensating Optics Housing

Existing optics mounts sandwich the optic axially between two metal components, which can lead to optical surface damage and misalignment when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. Thermal-compensating...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
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 : Electronics & Computers
Self-Powering Sensor Using a Nano-Energy Harvester

Existing nanosensor technologies depend on an external power source (typically a battery) to operate. Chemical and biological sensors based on nanowire or nanotube technologies exhibit...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Single-Crystal SiGe/Sapphire Epitaxy

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a new low-temperature method of SiGe/sapphire growth that produces the same single-crystal films with much less thermal loading effort to the substrate. This eliminates the time-consuming and costly high heating, long thermal soak times, and interfacial Si layer....

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Ultrasensitive Chip-Based Sensors

An optical whispering gallery mode resonator was developed that can spin light around the circumference of a tiny sphere millions of times, creating an ultrasensitive, microchip-based sensor for multiple applications.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Printing Technology Uses Sound Waves to Control Size of Liquid Droplets

Liquid droplets are used in many applications, from printing ink on paper to creating microcapsules for drug delivery. Inkjet printing is the most common technique used...

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 : Test & Measurement
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 : Data Acquisition
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 : Photonics/Optics
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 : Sensors/Data Acquisition
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 : Sensors/Data Acquisition
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 : Photonics/Optics
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...

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