In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration made history, transmitting data from lunar orbit to Earth at a rate of 622Mbps. That download rate is more than six times faster than previous state-of-the-art radio systems flown to the moon.
The direct emission of terahertz radiation would...
Researchers have demonstrated a new method for...
Terahertz radiation is gaining attention due to its many applications. Traditional methods of...
Measuring the band offset faced by electrons jumping from one material to another is a key component of a nanoscale design process because it guides redesign and prototyping. Current methods don’t work on the nanoscale, however. Using laser-induced current in a nanowire device and its dependence on the wavelength of the laser, a team at Drexel Univ. devised a new method to derive the band offset.
When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.
Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.
Bending light beams to your whim sounds like a job for a wizard or an a complex array of bulky mirrors, lenses and prisms, but a few tiny liquid bubbles may be all that is necessary to open the doors for next-generation, high-speed circuits and displays, according to Penn State researchers.
A U.K. team has developed a new type of high-performance, ultra-versatile Raman laser that harnesses diamonds to produce light beams with more power and a wider range of colors than current Raman lasers. Achievements by the team include the first “tunable” diamond Raman lasers, where the color of the light can be adjusted to meet specific needs, and the first continuously operating diamond Raman laser.
Random lasers are tiny structures emitting light irregularly into different directions, giving them a unique signature, like a fingerprint. Scientists in Austria have now shown that these exotic light sources, which differ greatly from conventional mirrored lasers, can be accurately controlled.
Built to handle oversized formats, the Trumpf TruLaser 8000 laser cuts sheet metal up to 52 feet in length. The machine is suitable for companies processing very large parts, or for job shops looking to expand their capacities and range of services.
A team in Germany has, for the first time, succeeded in functionally characterizing the active layer in organic thin-film solar cells using laser light for localized excitation of the material. This method, which relies on a highly modulated focused beam, enables them to directly map the spatial distribution of defects in organic thin films.
Most existing THz imaging devices employ prohibitively expensive technology or require several hours to generate a viable image. Researchers at Boston College recently reported a breakthrough in efforts to create accessible and effective THz imaging. Using both optical and electronic controls, the team developed a single-pixel imaging technique that uses a coded aperture to quickly and efficiently manipulate stubborn THz waves.
Researchers in Munich, Germany, have recently published work that describes experiments in which inexpensive semiconductor lasers have produced high-energy light pulses as short as 60 picoseconds without the drawbacks of previous approaches in terms of power consumption and device size. They say the new technique, based on the use of a new Fourier domain mode-locked laser, could open the door to subpicosecond pulses.
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) produce higher-power laser pulses over a broader range of energies compared with most other x-ray sources. Although the pulse durations currently available are enormously useful for the study of materials, even shorter pulses are needed. Researchers at RIKEN have proposed a theoretical pulse-amplification scheme that allows for the production of ultrashort x-ray pulses at extremely high energies.
An international team of physicists working at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that chaos can beat order—at least as far as light storage is concerned. The researchers deformed mirrors in order to disrupt the regular light path in an optical cavity and, surprisingly, the resulting chaotic light paths allowed more light to be stored than with ordered paths.
Asbestos was banned in the many industrialized countries in the 1980s, but the threat lingers on in the ceilings, walls and floors of old buildings and homes. Now a team of researchers in the U.K. has developed and tested the first portable, real-time airborne asbestos detector. The device uses a laser-based light scattering technique to identify harmful fibers.
By introducing high tensile strain, a research group in Switzerland has rendered germanium, which is normally unsuitable for lasers, capable of emitting 25 times more photons than in its relaxed state. This change alters the optical properties of the material and is enough to allow the construction of lasers from this material. This is valuable because germanium is highly compatible with silicon.
A standard camera takes flat, 2D pictures. To get 3D information, such as the distance to a far-away object, scientists can bounce a laser beam off the object and measure how long it takes the light to travel back to a detector. The technique, called time-of-flight (ToF) has a relatively short range and struggles to image objects that do not reflect laser light well. A team of Scotland-based physicists has recently tackled these limitations.
Electrically powered nanoscale lasers have been able to operate effectively only in cold temperatures. Researchers in the field have been striving to enable them to perform reliably at room temperature, a step that would pave the way for their use in a variety of practical applications. Recently, Arizona State University scientists have made that leap.
At the Photonics West conference in San Francisco this week, the Germany-based company Nanoscribe showcased the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures. With this printer, small 3D objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a new laser lithography method.
Existing optical beamsteering assemblies for technologies like LADAR, which scans a field of view with a laser to determine distance, are typically mechnical, bulky, slow, and inaccurate. In an effort to design a better, scalable technology, DARPA researchers have recently demonstrated the most complex optical phased array ever built onto a 2D chip.
At RIKEN in Japan, physicists have made fundamental design improvements to compact X-ray lasers, allowing the construction of more compact, ultra-short wavelength free-electron lasers suitable for observing materials at the atomic scale. Normally, studies at this level of detail require large synchrotrons. The new laser design should be cheaper to build, as well.
Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University and Concurrent Technologies Corporation are working with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ogden Air Logistics Center 309 AMXG to develop and demonstrate a robotic system that uses high-powered lasers to remove coatings from fighter and cargo aircraft. The continuous-wave lasers should replace abrasives and chemicals used in traditional coating removal processes.
At NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, a manufacturing technique called selective laser melting, or SLM, to create intricate metal parts for America's next heavy-lift rocket. Working from a 3D computer-aided design computer file, the machine basically “prints” complex parts using metal powder and lasers. The process significantly reduces the manufacturing time required to produce parts from months to weeks or even days, in some cases.
A Northwestern University research team has found a way to manufacture single laser devices that are the size of a virus particle and that operate at room temperature. These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits, and nanoscale biosensors.
An international research group has recently demonstrated integrated arrays of emitters of so call “optical vortex beams” onto a silicon chip. The generation of these “twisted” light beams, which do not propagate in straight rays, have typically relied on bulk optical elements such as plates, lenses, and holograms. The new emitters, however, are thousands of times smaller than conventional elements.
At this week’s Frontiers in Optics 2012, physicists are presenting possible applications based on research that uses natural spider silk to catch light. Recent findings could present an eco-friendly alternative to glass or plastic fiber optics: the traditional materials for manipulating light. Silk-enabled implantable biosensors, lasers, and microchips could result.