Putting optics into focus

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In its most practical form, photonics isn’t such a complicated industry. It has three basic components: the generation, manipulation, and detection of light. As an industry, we invest most of our attention in the manipulation part, which enables, enhances, and bridges the industry’s other pillar practices.

Without the ability to focus, diffract, reflect, transmit, or filter photons, we may all as well go home — and don’t expect to catch up on your binge watching when you get there. No optics? No internet, or television screens, or movie cameras. We’re all back to reading books and attending live daytime theater — those of us who don’t need glasses anyway.

Before this gets too scattered, my point is that whatever niche you occupy in this industry, optics — the parts and the practice — are what link you to everyone else. This is why Photonics Spectra traditionally dedicates its September issue to the topic of optics.

Given the scope of this topic, it can be a challenge to stay grounded while capturing the big picture — much like the ground-based giant telescope projects surveyed in our lead feature by science writer Val Coffey. An accompanying article, contributed by Nüvü Cameras, highlights the important advancements in adaptive optics that are furthering the mission-critical capabilities of these Earth-bound telescopes.

Next up, a feature from Element Six Technologies captures the finer points of using single-crystal diamond as a gain material for Raman lasers, allowing for greater power densities, more robust damage thresholds, and changeable wavelengths. Following this, the Ophir Optics Group at MKS Instruments reflects on the formulation, deposition, and benefits of antireflection coatings for high-power fiber lasers.

Contributing editor Hank Hogan is next in line with a feature exploring the finer points of how quantum photonic effects could improve the performance of sensors, atomic clocks, and spectrometers. Eckhardt Optics’ article follows with a discussion of how the venerable conoscope is finding new application as a metrology tool for 21st century technologies, in the same way that facial recognition, high-speed scatterometers, and virtual reality headsets are introducing new applications for the venerable conoscope.

Published: September 2020

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