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  • Musings on Horses and Quantum Leaps

Photonics Spectra
May 2016

Mike WheelerThe Kentucky Derby. The greatest two minutes in sports. Its very name evokes air thick with bourbon and cigar smoke, women’s hats adorned with bows and feathers, sleek thoroughbreds and spectators dressed to the nines. Save, perhaps, for the Masters in April, few sporting events offer a more visually rich experience for TV viewers.

Recent advances in consumer display technology have made watching the first race of the Triple Crown even more exciting. That brings us to quantum dots — those tiny, brilliant semiconductors that offer unmatched color purity. In this month’s cover story, Nanoco Technologies’ Steve Reinhard examines a new heavy-metal-free version of quantum dots in “Cadmium-Free Quantum Dots Offer Vibrant Color for Liquid Crystal Displays” (read article).

Speaking of quantum advances, Battelle’s Nino Walenta and Lee Oesterling examine the singular role of the photon for ensuring data security over today’s ever-expanding quantum communications networks. See “Quantum Networks: Photons Hold Key to Data Security” (read article).

We move from all things quantum, to the shifting landscape of laser machining, where CO2 lasers once led the field. Thanks to greater uptime, faster cutting and increasing affordability, fiber lasers are now the first choice for a wide array of industrial applications. See contributing editor Hank Hogan’s “Better Lasers, Better Machining” (read article).

While the defining attributes for lasers are their high spatial and temporal coherence, those same characteristics can have an adverse effect when it comes to optical coherence tomography (OCT). Researchers Brandon Redding, Peyman Ahmadi and Hui Cao document the development of a fiber amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) light source that delivers the brightness and low coherence required for OCT. See “An Alternative to LEDs for Full-Field Imaging” (read article).

Zemax LLC’s Cort Stinnett and Teresa Taylor examine new software capabilities to help optomechanical engineers overcome beam clipping and stray light, when building the packaging for optical lenses. See “Advances in Optical Simulation Software Bridge the Product Development Gap” (read article).

Finally, don’t miss this month’s special section on fiber optics components and systems. Highlighting the section is senior editor Justine Murphy’s feature, “Fiber Optics: From ‘Piping Light’ to All-Optical Communications” (read article), chronicling fiber optics’ origins to its present-day advancements.

Off to the races!

Smallest amount into which the energy of a wave can be divided. The quantum is proportional to the frequency of the wave. See photon.
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