Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Optical

Researchers have designed coupled lasers that act as general-purpose optical logic gates

High hopes have been maintained for decades concerning optical logic, optical switching matrices (e.g. for communications), and optical computing. The missing link in actualizing this promise is a practical circuit element that allows one light to be turned on or off purely by application of another light to the device - rather like voltage on the control gate of a field effect transistor. This missing link has now been developed through a novel application of the complex behavior exhibited by coupled lasers.  Read More

A scanning electron micrograph of a cross-section of the MIT nanotextured glass (Photo: Hy...

Glass has a unique look - despite its clarity you can tell there is a material there by the way it reflects light, and that it isn't plastic or crystal. Glass, however, carries problems, like glare, fogging, and collects dirt. A group of MIT researchers has found a new way to create arrays of conical micron-scale surface nanotextures to produce glass that is self-cleaning, non-glare, and non-fogging. The researchers believe the nanotextured surface can be made at low enough cost to be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones and televisions, solar panels, car windshields and even windows in buildings.  Read More

BAE Systems has been selected by Lockheed Martin to supply a Night Vision Goggle Helmet Mo...

When it enters service, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will lay claim to the title of the most advanced warplane in the world. Its pilots will have the most advanced helmets as well ... and there's more to it than protecting the pilot's head against knocks. Unfortunately, the gap between designing the helmet and building it has proven wider than originally thought and issues such as poor image quality are so severe that the F35's testing program faces serious delays, so F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin brought in BAE Systems to provide a substitute.  Read More

Cornell researchers have demonstrated a working temporal cloak that creates a gap in the f...

Last year researchers at Imperial College London proposed that along with being used to cloak physical objects metamaterials could also be used to cloak a singular event in time. A year later, researchers from Cornell University have demonstrated a working "temporal cloak" that is able to conceal a burst of light as if it had never occurred.  Read More

MIT has developed a system known as GelSight, that uses painted rubber to obtain 3D images...

Typically, if someone wishes to obtain three-dimensional images of micrometer-scale objects, they need to use a device such as a confocal microscope or a white-light interferometer. Such equipment is big, expensive, and often has to be mounted on a vibration-free table. Even then, it can take up to a few hours to get the finished images. Scientists at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, however, have created a system that can obtain the same kind of images almost instantly, using a soda can-sized sensor and a sheet of rubber. It’s called GelSight.  Read More

The Beep-It optical theremin produces eerie tones when exposed to various light sources

If you’ve ever heard the eerie electronic music at the beginning of a 1950s science fiction movie (The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example), then you’ve heard a theremin. Invented in Russia in the 1920s, the instrument is unique, in that the person playing it doesn’t touch it at all. Instead, they move their hands around its two antennas, causing it to emit different sounds by altering radio frequencies that the machine emits. Although still used by some modern musicians, theremins can be a little pricey, and somewhat difficult to master. That’s where the $35 Beep-It optical theremin comes in.  Read More

Researchers have developed what they say is the world's first-ever permanent anti-fog coat...

Tired of your glasses fogging up on cold days, or of having to spit in your dive mask before putting it on? Those hassles may become a thing of the past, as researchers from Quebec City’s Université Laval have developed what they claim is the world’s first permanent anti-fog coating. Just one application is said to work indefinitely on eyeglasses, windshields, camera lenses, or any other transparent glass or plastic surface.  Read More

German engineers have developed a low-cost disposable endoscopic camera that is the size o...

Tiny video cameras mounted on the end of long thin fiber optic cables, commonly known as endoscopes, have proven invaluable to doctors and researchers wishing to peer inside the human body. Endoscopes can be rather pricey, however, and like anything else that gets put inside peoples’ bodies, need to be sanitized after each use. A newly-developed type of endoscope is claimed to address those drawbacks by being so inexpensive to produce that it can be thrown away after each use. Not only that, but it also features what is likely the world’s smallest complete video camera, which is just one cubic millimeter in size.  Read More

Scientists from the University of Manchester have announced the development of the world's...

Scientists from the University of Manchester have announced the development of the world's most powerful optical microscope. Called the "microsphere nanoscope," the device captures non-diffracted near-field virtual images that are amplified via silica glass microspheres, which are tiny optically-transparent spherical particles. Those images are then relayed and further amplified by a standard optical microscope. The nanoscope reportedly allows users to see objects as small as 50 nanometers under normal lighting – this is 20 times smaller than what conventional optical microscopes can manage, and is in fact said to be beyond the theoretical limits of optical microscopy.  Read More

The eyeball camera connected to a custom made syringe for varying the  the curvatures of t...

Researchers have used the human eye as inspiration for a new type of camera that boasts the simple lens system of the eye, but features the variable zoom capability of a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera without the bulk and weight of a complex lens system. As a result, the “eyeball camera” measures less than an inch in diameter, is inexpensive to make and should be suited to a variety of applications, including night-vision surveillance, robotic vision systems, endoscopic imaging and consumer electronics.  Read More

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