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Photonics Spectra Preview - April 2023

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Here is your first look at the editorial content for the upcoming April issue of Photonics Spectra.

The Future of Lasers for Fusion

The enormous phosphate glass laser banks powering the National Ignition Facility's (NIF's) experiments on inertial confinement fusion (ICF) are a magnificent work of engineering. Much work remains in achieving consistent and efficient net energy at NIF. In the meantime, laser-makers with an eye on the future fusion market are debating how next-generation sources will evolve to make ICF a more compact, power efficient, and potentially commercial venture. Following a January visit to NIF, contributing editor Andreas Thoss reports on the recent successes there and talks to ICF experts from Fraunhofer and other sources to explore the opportunities and challenges defining the future of lasers for fusion.

Key Technologies: lasers, phosphate glass, fusion

Sensors in Flight

Photonics-enabled gyros have helped aviators navigate for decades. But as smaller, pilotless airborne platforms such as UAVs and drones have taken on longer-range missions, gyroscopic instruments have had to become smaller, more lightweight, and less power hungry while losing none of their accuracy and precision. Contributing editor James Schlett reports on new developments in photonic chip-based solutions that have allows a new generation of fiber and ring-laser gyroscopes take wing.

Key Technologies: Ring laser and fiber optic gyroscopes. System components include hollow core fiber.

Photovoltaic Update

The idea of indoor solar cells (PV) might seem counter-productive. But neither wall plugs nor batteries are a suitable long-term solution to power the proliferating number of consumer devices, sensors, smart appliances, and other networked objects that populate the growing Internet of Things (IOT). Consumers and businesses are already paying for indoor illumination. Why not use that ambient light to also power devices in the home and office? Michael Eisenstein goes off the grid to explore the emerging materials, component technologies and system designs that will power the future IOT.

Key Technologies: Perovskite, photovoltaics, IOT, sensors

PIC Material Platforms

Although the semiconductor industry was built largely on silicon, the mix of materials comprising the fast-emerging photonic integrated circuits (PICs) is far more varied. SiN, InP, and LiNbO3, and other materials each bring their comparative merits and drawbacks in terms of performance and manufacturability. As PICs gain more functionality, it is likely they will comprise several materials for optimizing performance. In EPIC’s latest column, Dr. Ivan Nikitski, will outline the key materials platforms for PICs, discuss their comparative advantages, and explore the challenges of combining them.

Key Technologies: PIC's three key materials platforms (silicon, silicon nitride, indium phosphide)

On-Chip Spectroscopy

The use of spectral sensing is nothing new for agriculture, food inspection, or health monitoring. But the most advanced solutions are generally limited to the laboratory and require an advanced degree to maintain, use, and interrogate results. That has begun to change as more cost-effective, compact, and more intuitive devices have emerged to bring spectral sensing to the masses. Mantispectra, which has leveraged integrated photonics to produce a near-IR sensor, explores the opportunities, challenges, and future implicit in such portable devices.

Key Technologies: NIR sensor and spectrometers, photonic integrated circuits

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