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 process provides a cost-effective solution for applications in space-based imaging systems, military reconnaissance, and satellite and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
This system can amplify a faint signal from a neighboring system even when that signal’s amplitude is as small as ten trillionths of a meter.
Briefs: Imaging
Optically Reconfigurable Charge-Transfer Liquid Crystals
These re-writeable materials have applications in data storage and encryption, energy transducers, and optical display technologies.
A novel plate-cell architecture reaches the theoretical limit of performance.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Soft Hardware for More Flexible Robots
Combined muscles and sensors made from soft materials allow for adaptable robots.
Mini-magnets could enable cloud computing systems to process data up to 100 times faster than current technologies.
This program provides a relative navigation capability for spacecraft, remotely operated terrestrial vehicles, and machine vision.
Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
High-Efficiency Laser for Silicon Chips
Applications include optical data transfer, infrared and night-vision systems, environmental sensors, and breath analysis for medical diagnosis.
A highly sensitive, CMOS-compatible, broadband photodetector was created by tailoring material defects.
The nonlinear camera captures high-resolution images of the interior of solid objects using terahertz (THz) radiation.
Engineers have developed a new scanning technique inspired by the natural world that can detect corroding metals in oil and gas pipelines.
A team is exploring new materials for telecommunications and LIDAR applications.
Researchers described a new strategy of designing metamolecules.
This method uses fiber optic probes for measurement of semiconductors, optical coatings, magnetic read/write heads, and precision machines.
A liquid crystal elastomer can be programmed to exhibit controllable, dynamic behavior without the need for complex electronic components.
Special light sources and sensors see around corners or through gauzy filters, enabling reconstruction of the shapes of unseen objects.
Briefs: Nanotechnology
Additive Manufacturing Method for Sub-Microscale Three-Dimensional Structures
Applications include MEMS, microlattice fabrication, and other sub-microscale 3D structures with a broad range of materials.
This method could lead to the transmission of data at the rate of 100 gigabits per second.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Terahertz Imaging System Uses Small, Efficient Lasers
The lasers are small and efficient enough to fit on a microchip.
This imaging technique could impact optical communications and signal processing.
The NASA study is a first step in developing a model to deploy in future disasters.
In the middle ground between microwaves and visible light lies terahertz radiation, and the promise of “Tray vision.”
This vibrometer has uses in analyzing spasms in humans, as a breath analyzer for diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, and as a preventative healthcare sensor.
These thin films hold great promise for solar cells and LEDs.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
3D Printing Technique Produces “Living” 4D Materials
3D/4D printing is merged with a chemical process to produce “living” resin, which has potential for recycling and biomedicine.
The switch is a major new step toward building a computer that uses light instead of electricity to process information.
This coating acts as a spontaneous air cooler and can be fabricated, dyed, and applied like paint.
This innovation could lead to better drones, satellites, and biomedical devices.
Filaments with embedded circuitry can be used to print complex shapes for biomedical and robotic devices.

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