News Feature | November 16, 2022

Bright Ideas — New Laser Beam Steering Device Coming, German Armed Forces Test Fire HEL Weapon Against Drones

John Oncea

By John Oncea, Editor


A University of Texas at Arlington electrical engineering professor is leading a project that will explore an optical laser beam steering device for 3D sensing in autonomous driving cars. Weidong Zhou, UTA professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, said, “We’re investigating an optical beam steering device based on the electrical tuning of photonic crystal cavities, a type of nanophotonic structure, that can be designed to manipulate light beams. Right now, most existing methods use mechanical movements to steer the light beam direction. That’s slow and bulky. What we’re doing is much faster, very compact, and more reliable.”

Rising demand for high-definition image-capturing devices to elevate growth is expected to grow the global CMOS image sensor market at a CAGR of 6.32 % between now and 2031, according to Research Nester. Asia Pacific to hold the largest market revenue, the popularity of smartphones is expected to propel market growth in the North American region, and the consumer electronics segment is projected to garner the largest revenue, notes Research Nester. “Rising demand for high-definition image-capturing devices is expected to propel the market growth. For instance, Sony Corporation unveiled the IMX485 type 1/1.2 4K-resolution back-illuminated CMOS image sensor and the IMX415 type 1/2.8 4K CMOS image sensor in June 2019. Sony created these two security camera sensors to address the constantly growing demand for security cameras in a range of monitoring applications, such as anti-theft, disaster warning, and traffic monitoring systems, or commercial complexes.”

Naval Technology reports that The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) has successfully conducted the first operational test-firing of a high-energy laser (HEL) weapon against drones aboard a German Navy warship. The test was performed in the Baltic Sea aboard the German Navy’s lead Sachsen-class frigate FGS Sachsen (F219). During this test, the frigate successfully intercepted drones, both at short and very-short ranges.

The Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg used a reaction microscope developed at the institute, now combined with a high-resolution photon spectrometer for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, to investigate the resonant two-photon ionization of helium with improved spectral resolution and angle resolution. “These results and the newly developed experimental methodology open up a promising path to researching the fundamental interactions of a few photons with a few electrons,” says group leader Christian Ott, summarizing the scope of the work. The interaction with photons (light quanta) is of particular and fundamental interest. Researchers have examined in detail the resonant two-photon ionization of helium at the free-electron laser FLASH at DESY in Hamburg.

Imperial College London announced that its researchers have created a laser system based on a network like a spider’s web, which can be precisely controlled to produce different light colors. The system could be used in new sensing and computing applications and the researchers are now collaborating with partners across Europe to explore applications in machine learning. The new network laser systems could have many applications, particularly as they can be integrated into chips. For example, they could be used as highly secure hardware keys, where the illumination patterns become the secure keys that generate the password in the form of the laser spectrum.

 A versatile dual-comb laser that combines a wide scanning range with high power, low noise, stable operation, and ease of use — thereby offering bright prospects for practical uses - has been developed, according to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. As a result, problems encountered by the various applications of pulsed laser sources that rely on the ability to produce a series of pulse pairs with a stepwise increasing delay between them will be mitigated.

Finally, the Australian Research Council announced $384.9 million in research funding for eleven ARC Centres of Excellence to conduct research in areas of national priority over a seven-year period. ARC Centres of Excellence are focal points of expertise by which high-caliber researchers collaborate to deliver research that addresses some of the major challenges of our time. Among those awards are The ARC Centre of Excellence in Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science, led by RMIT University, which aims to explore the society-wide transformations that will flow from optical technology by leveraging and building upon the latest breakthroughs in physics, materials science, and nanofabrication and The ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, led by Swinburne University of Technology, which will harness a national and international network of highly trained astrophysicists to detect and analyze gravitational waves which will expand our knowledge of fundamental physics, the Universe, and the nature of ultra-dense matter.