Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Purdue engineers use ’shaped’ laser pulses in ’ultra-wideband’ research


Engineers at Purdue University have developed a technique that could result in more accurate "ultra-wideband" radio signals for ground-penetrating radar, radio communications and imaging systems designed to see through walls.

The researchers first create laser pulses with specific "shapes," which precisely characterize the changing intensity of light from the beginning to end of each pulse. The pulses are then converted into electrical signals for various applications.

By controlling the shapes of laser pulses, the researchers are able to adjust the frequencies of the resulting radio signals and to produce signals with higher frequencies than are otherwise possible. Shorter signals make it easier to screen out interference and enhance image resolution, promising to improve the accuracy of systems used to detect landmines and other underground objects and for newly emerging devices that can look through walls and see what’s on the other side. "You want the best spatial resolution possible if you have two items buried close to one another," said Jason McKinney, a visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. "If your pulse is too long, you get a combined reflection from both items back, but if your pulse is short enough, you get a separate reflection from each."

A similar situation arises in wireless communications. When radio signals are transmitted from one antenna to another, some travel directly to the second antenna while others bounce off of buildings and other objects along the way, causing "noise," or interference. By shaping the laser pulses so they are "narrow," shorter electronic signals can be created. The shorter the signals, the easier it is to pick them out from the noisy, interfering signals by the time they arrive at the receiving end of the transmission. The researchers’ technique will be detailed in a paper to appear in the April issue of IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters, a journal published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The paper was written by Ingrid S. Lin, a Purdue doctoral student, McKinney and Andrew Weiner, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Ultra-wideband technology, commonly referred to as UWB, has numerous potential applications, including high-speed handheld wireless communications for consumer electronics, radar systems in cars that might be used to prevent collisions and the development of "personal area networks," or wireless networks linking computer equipment, personal digital assistants and other devices within a person’s workspace.

While commercially available electronic devices produce a fixed set of wideband frequencies, the Purdue team is able to adjust the shapes of optical pulses and the resulting electrical signal, which means more precisely controlled ultra-wideband frequencies can be produced. "The main innovation is the ability to define what we want," McKinney said. "We’re able to say, ’Here is what I want, give it to me, and the system produces the desired signal.’"

The innovation could have laboratory applications in testing and research and in the development of ultra-wideband and wireless radio systems. Each laser pulse lasts about 300 femtoseconds, or three-tenths of a trillionth of a second. These pulses are processed using "optical arbitrary waveform technology" pioneered by Purdue researchers led by Weiner, which results in a three-nanosecond laser pulse. "There are commercial boxes that generate pulsed electrical signals, but the user has no control over the shape of these signals," McKinney said. "Because we can create desired shapes of pulsed light, we are able to create electrical signals that you can’t buy a commercial box to make. The pulse is designed to produce the desired electrical ’waveform,’ or a shaped electrical signal that evolves over time in a user-defined way."

The radio-frequency signal is obtained after a device converts the laser pulse into a radio signal for radar and wireless communications. "Our goal is to improve radio frequency communications, impulsive radar and other applications in the blossoming area of ultra-wideband radio frequency systems," McKinney said.

The work has been funded by the U.S. Army Research Office.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Sources: Jason D. McKinney, (765) 494-3454,

Andrew M. Weiner, (765)494-5574,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>