Photonics/Optics

Prototype Shows How Tiny Photodetectors Can Double Their Efficiency

Physicists at the University of California, Riverside have developed a photodetector by combining two distinct inorganic materials and producing quantum mechanical processes that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected.

Posted in: INSIDER, Materials, Optics, Photonics, Detectors, Sensors
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‘Twisted’ Light Could Illuminate New Path for Wireless Communications

Scientists have taken an important step towards using ‘twisted’ light as a form of wireless, high-capacity data transmission which could make fiber optics obsolete.

Posted in: INSIDER, Communications, Wireless, Optics, Photonics
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Scientists Develop Extreme Light Trapping Technology

A silicon solar cell harvests the energy of the sun as light travels down through light-absorbent silicon. To reduce weight and cost, solar cells are thin, and while silicon absorbs visible light well, it captures less than half of the light in the near-infrared spectrum, which makes up one-third of the sun’s energy. The depth of the material limits absorption. But what if light within the cell could be channeled horizontally so that silicon could absorb its energy along the width of the cell rather than its depth?

Posted in: INSIDER, Nanotechnology, Optics, Photonics
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An Electron Caught in the Act

How fast is an electron? Australian scientists were able to measure it. Australia's fastest camera, located at the Attosecond Science Facility, has revealed the time it takes for molecules to break apart. The experimental research, conducted by Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, aims to help in the design of new molecules for materials science or drug discovery.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Scientists Demonstrate New Real-Time Technique for Studying Ionic Liquids at Electrode Interfaces

Ionic liquids—salts made by combining positively charged molecules (cations) and negatively charged molecules (anions) that are liquid at relatively low temperatures, often below room temperature—are increasingly being investigated for uses in batteries, supercapacitors, and transistors. Their unique physical and chemical properties, including good ionic conductivity, low flammability and volatility, and high thermal stability, make them well suited for such applications. But thousands of ionic liquids exist and exactly how they interact with the electrified surfaces of electrodes remains poorly understood, making it difficult to choose one for a particular application.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Optical Probing Deep into the Eye

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a scanning technology commonly used by ophthalmologists to check for eye diseases. A team of scientists has figured out how to retrofit these high-performance machines with off-the-shelf components, increasing OCT's resolution by several-fold, promising earlier detection of retinal and corneal damage, incipient tumors, and more.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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CoaXPress Blazes Trail for Faster, Higher Quality Machine Vision

Introduced in 2010, CoaXPress (CXP) has become a leading standard for high-end machine vision, as well as life sciences, security, and defense applications. The CXP standard enables sending high-speed asymmetric serial data over long distances using standard 75-ohm coaxial cable. It currently supports speeds up to 6.25 Gb/S per link. However, the use of multiple links allows scaling up of bandwidth to meet the needs of a specific application. In addition, CXP enables control of the camera and supply of 24V at up to 13W of power per cable — all over the same coaxial cable.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics
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Novel Techniques Examine Solar Cells with Nanoscale Precision

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have for the first time examined, with nanometer-scale precision, the variations in chemical composition and defects of widely used solar cells. The new techniques, which were used to investigate a common type of solar cell made of the semiconductor material cadmium telluride, promise to aid scientists to better understand the microscopic structure of solar cells and may ultimately suggest ways to boost the efficiency with which they convert sunlight to electricity.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Line Scan Cameras

Area array and line scan cameras are each suited for unique machine vision applications. Area array cameras, for all intents and purposes, are “conventional” cameras that use sensors with two-dimensional pixel arrays. The square or rectangular shaped sensor captures an image in a single pass with the resulting image having a width and height corresponding to the number of pixels on the sensor, for example, 640x480. Because of this, area array cameras are ideal for machine vision tasks where objects are small or have approximately the same size in both dimensions. However, the size of PCBs, LCD panels, and wafers has increased beyond the speed, accuracy, and resolution capabilities of many area array cameras. Line scan cameras offer a better solution.

Posted in: Articles, Photonics
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Improved Surface Characterization with AFM Imaging

To shrink device size yet still tightly control performance, new technology often requires increasingly stringent surface specifications. Characterization tools, in turn, must keep pace by providing higher resolution, faster throughput, and more functionality. The atomic force microscope (AFM) is well known as a high-resolution imaging technique, but its characterization power and ease of use have increased significantly over the years.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Photonics
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