News Feature | April 27, 2022

Bright Ideas — Mini Camera Captures Record 3cm To 1.7km DoF, Upconverting Red Laser Light For New 3D Printing Method

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By Abby Proch, Editor

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Inspired by a 500 million-year-old sea creature with incredible vision, NIST scientists have created a record-setting miniature camera with a depth-of-field ranging from 3cm to 1.7 km. Aspiring to the visual acuity of trilobites, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) devised an array of metalenses built as groupings of rectangular nanoscale pillars to direct light in a way that acts as both a macro lens and a telephoto lens. Any errors or aberrations are handled and mitigated by a computer algorithm. Scientists see this advancement as a way to better capture highly detailed images across a large field of view.

Embarking on a new method for 3D printing, Stanford engineers have tapped into triplet fusion upconversion in an effort to print objects holistically and without support. Rather than starting with a high-energy blue laser, which would harden any part of gel resin that it touches, scientists have instead opted to begin with low-energy red laser light than converts to blue light when it encounters purposefully placed capsules of nanomaterials. The result is a highly detailed, albeit somewhat time-consuming, print. Researchers are also considering how upconverting nanocapsules could improve solar panel performance and advance medical research.  

Looking to improve upon the painstaking process of measuring radio antennas, startup Fringe Metrology, born out of the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Studies, is using lasers and cameras to create 3D models of curved radio antennas (or any other surface needing measured). Current methods involve placing a handful of stickers on the surface of the antenna and then imaging their locations, or measuring the antenna with a physical probe. With this new “handsfree” method, antennas are measured based on millions of points and in much quicker time. Fringe founder Joel Berskon says he wants to bring the quicker, cheaper, and higher-quality solution to labs everywhere.

The University of Colorado Boulder recently welcomed the U.S.’s second High-Sensitivity Low-Energy Ion Scattering (HS-LEIS) Spectrometer. Available to researchers, academia, and industry, the HS-LEIS can provide “the most sensitive and selective methods for non-destructive, property-dictating, top-atomic-layer surface composition analysis.” What’s more, the tool is paired with an X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system and can be used alongside a glass reaction chamber capable of handling temperatures up to 1200 C as well as corrosive and reactive gases.

Finally, in business news, POET Technologies Inc. has joined the Singapore Hybrid-Integrated Next generation micro-Electronics (SHINE) Center as a founding mentioned. The Ontario-based maker of the POET Optical Interposer and photonic integrated circuits (PICs) joins SHINE to support its effort in addressing issues bringing IoT microelectronics technologies to industry. SHINE endeavors to develop a process and design platform for chip to large-area substrates that would influence new IoT technologies and applications such as wearables, smart vehicles, and space technologies.