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Solar Takes Flight

EuroPhotonics
Jun 2016
JUSTINE MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com

Justine MurphyNelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” These words ring true for Solar Impulse, a program “born in Switzerland” that aims to demonstrate the power of clean technologies — sometimes in dramatic fashion.

The program’s Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) aircraft runs exclusively on solar power, thanks to 17,000+ solar cells built into the wings to power the engines and recharge the batteries. The aircraft was the first fuel-less flight to circle the globe, beginning in early 2015 in Abu Dhabi, with stops in Oman, India, Myanmar and China, before finally touching down in Hawaii.

The mission, the subject of this month’s “Picture This” column, is revolutionizing energy consumption and conservation, and is among a growing troupe of solar energy resources (read article).

Solar — and other green energy technologies — is also the subject of our cover story, “Advanced Inspection Technology: Evolving Clean Energy.” Nikon Metrology Inc.’s Pete Morken examines new applications — solar collectors, wind turbine blades, solar thermal projects, photovoltaics and others — that are benefiting from laser-based portable metrology systems. Procedures such as large-volume precision measurement are upping the efficiency of clean energy, which is a key factor for increasing widespread use (read article).

Also in this issue, Catherine Barrat from HGH Infrared Systems Inc. takes a look at how blackbodies are finding use as reference sources, for IR cameras in particular. Uniformity has become essential, and now, a new bench is able to measure that uniformity of the IR reference source with a high accuracy (read article). And contributing editor Hank Hogan explores the realm of ultrafast fiber lasers, their evolving cost-saving benefits, innovative uses and potential new applications (read article).

Finally, Jose Pozo of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) offers the second installment of “EPIC Insights.” In the column, he delves into ways photonic sensors are playing a role in our increasingly connected world — specifically innovations like driverless cars and wearable displays (read article).

Whether its enabling driverless cars, precision agriculture or solar-powered planes, photonics technologies are proving increasingly valuable in the ongoing push for a cleaner, smarter and more connected world.

Enjoy the issue!


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