Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paging Han Solo: Researchers Find More Efficient Way To Steer Laser Beams

03.05.2011
For many practical applications involving lasers, it’s important to be able to control the direction of the laser beams. Just ask Han Solo, or the captain of the Death Star. Researchers from North Carolina State University have come up with a very energy-efficient way of steering laser beams that is precise and relatively inexpensive.

“In many cases, it is much easier to redirect a laser beam at a target than to steer the laser itself. We intended to develop a way to do this efficiently and without moving anything,” says Dr. Michael Escuti, an associate professor of electrical engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. “We also wanted to be able to steer the beams over a wide range of angles, which is important for practical applications.”

The key to the Escuti team’s success was the use of “polarization gratings,” which consist of a thin layer of liquid crystal material on a glass plate. The researchers created a device that allows a laser beam to pass through a stack of these polarization gratings. Researchers manipulated the optical properties of each grating, and were able to steer the laser beams by controlling how each individual grating redirects the light. “Because each individual grating is very good at redirecting light in the desired directions with almost no absorption, the stack of gratings do not significantly weaken the laser power,” Escuti says.

Another advantage of the system, Escuti explains, is that “every grating that we add to the stack increases the number of steerable angles exponentially. So, not only can we steer lasers efficiently, but we can do it with fewer components in a more compact system.

“Compared to other laser steering technologies, this is extremely cost-effective. We’re taking advantage of materials and techniques that are already in widespread use in the liquid crystal display sector.”

The technology has a variety of potential applications. For example, free space communication uses lasers to transfer data between platforms – such as between satellites or between an aircraft and soldiers on the battlefield. This sort of communication relies on accurate and efficient laser-beam steering. Other technologies that could make use of the research include laser weapons and LIDAR, or laser radar, which uses light for optical scanning applications – such as mapping terrain.

Escuti’s team has already delivered prototypes of the technology to the U.S. Air Force, and is currently engaged in additional research projects to determine the technology’s viability for a number of other applications.

The paper, “Wide-angle, nonmechanical beam steering with high-throughput utilizing polarization gratings,” was co-authored by Escuti; NC State Ph.D. student Jihwan Kim; former NC State Ph.D. student Chulwoo Oh; and Steve Serati of Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc. The paper is published in the journal Applied Optics. The research was funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

NC State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is part of the university’s College of Engineering.

-shipman-

Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“Wide-angle, nonmechanical beam steering with high-throughput utilizing polarization gratings”

Authors: Jihwan Kim, Chulwoo Oh, Michael J. Escuti, North Carolina State University; Steve Serati, Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc.

Published: May 1 in Applied Optics

Abstract: We introduce and demonstrate a ternary nonmechanical beam steering device based on Polarization Gratings (PGs). Our beam steering device employs multiple stages consisting of combinations of PGs and Wave Plates (WPs), that allows for a unique three-way (ternary) steering design. Ultra-high efficiency (~ 100%) and polarization sensitive diffraction of individual PGs allow wide steering angles (among three diffracted orders) with extremely high throughput. We report our successful demonstration of the three-stage beam steerer having 44[degree] field-of-regard with 1.7[degree] resolution at 1550 nm wavelength. A substantially high throughput of 78% ? 83% is observed that is mainly limited by electrode absorption and Fresnel losses.

Matt Shipman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Etching Microstructures with Lasers
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>