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Laser

Electronics

Smartphone and laser attachment form cheap rangefinder

A team of researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) led by Li-Shiuan Peh has come up with a new infrared depth-sensing system. The new system, which works outdoors as well as in, was built by attaching a US$10 laser to a smartphone, with MIT saying the inexpensive approach could be used to convert conventional personal vehicles, such as wheelchairs and golf carts, into autonomous ones.Read More

Telecommunications

Shooting planes with lasers makes for better comms

Whether they're flying over battlefields, disaster sites or search-and-rescue operations, aircraft can prove to be a valuable "eye in the sky" for ground crews. Usually, data is transmitted from those planes using radio signals. Such signals can be jammed or intercepted, however, plus bandwidth limitations put a damper on just how much data can be sent. That's why scientists from the University of Oxford and Airbus Group Innovations are now using lasers instead.Read More

Games

Father.IO turns the world into a laser tag playground

The latest real-life take on laser tag uses augmented reality, a small infrared peripheral, and your smartphone's Internet capabilities to put you at war with people both in your area and around the world. Touted as a real-life, massively multiplayer first-person shooter game, Father.IO turns your phone into a virtual weapon.Read More

Electronics

Growing nanowire lasers directly on silicon promises to simplify photonic chip design

For over half a century, Moore's Law, which predicts that processor performance would double roughly every 18 months, has held true. But as electronics grow smaller and smaller, fundamental physical barriers loom ahead. To help stave off that day, a team of physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is working on nanowire lasers that are a thousand times thinner than a human hair and may one day lead to economical, high-performance photonic circuits.Read More

Science

Scientists use laser to "weld" neurons together

Whether it's as a research tool or a step in repairing severed nerves, the ability to join neurons together has some serious applications. If left to occur naturally, the process takes several hours, limiting its practicality. Now, however, scientists at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering have developed a method of doing so within 15 milliseconds.Read More

Electronics

World's smallest optical switch uses a single atom

The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.Read More

Electronics

NASA's new laser-based modem could revolutionize data-crunching

For years now, fiber optics has been synonymous with super-speed communications and data transfer, but now NASA is working to develop the next generation of high-speed modems using an emerging technology called integrated photonics. The agency's first integrated photonics modem is set to be deployed aboard the International Space Station in 2020. The palm-sized device makes use of optics-based functions like lasers, switches and wires that are all integrated on a microchip much like those in our cell phones. Read More

Space

First high speed laser communication satellite set for launch

Space-based laser communications are moving out of the testing phase and into orbit as the first satellite in the European DAta Relay System (EDRS), or SpaceDataHighway, prepares for launch at the end of January. Likened to having a fiber optic cable in space, the 1.8 Gigabit per second system is a joint public–private partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and ESA that will act as a relay system between ground stations, satellites, and aircraft.
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