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Sensing a change in metrology

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The rise of image-based metrological systems has helped drive the development of sensors and the optical technology that supports them, responding to the ever-increasing demand for improved resolution, sensitivity, and spectral range.

Doug FarmerThe first digital camera was produced in 1975. Since then, the image sensor evolution has continued and has led to dramatic changes in signal-to-noise ratio, speed (frame rate), and fill factor. As this trend has progressed, traditional trade-offs in technical capability have become less important, since the collection of images with more than 100 MP — even in low-light conditions — is now not only less expensive but commonplace.

In our cover story, Peter Bauer, Andreas Bich, and Thomas Ruppel of SwissOptic AG relate the exciting new possibilities created by these developments on the industrial floor, in the laboratory, and out in the field in widely varying conditions. They also remind us of the attention to detail that is essential at all stages of the process, including the design of the optical system, the choice of glass to be used and how it is mounted, the polishing and etching of the tools, and the assembly and inspection of the many pieces included in the equipment, as well as their careful storage. If all of these stages are handled properly, they note, optical technologies will drive industry to heights seldom imagined until recent years.

Also featured in this issue:

Contributing editor Marie Freebody reports how fiber optic sensors are being used to quantify pollution and take the mystery out of how much of it exists in our environment today in both the developed and emerging worlds. This need for monitoring has contributed to a rise in demand for fiber optic sensors, and the market is growing exponentially. Even when power is knocked out, a passive network can continue to monitor temperature and deformation, according to representatives of companies that produce this technology.

Also, Stuart Thomson of Edinburgh Instruments relates the exciting expansion of the application of perovskite quantum dots in lasers, lighting, and displays. Through the process of quantum confinement, the dots emit brighter light. While much research and many development opportunities remain in this realm, photoluminescence spectroscopy can reveal the properties of these elements.

In this issue’s “EPIC Insights” column, EPIC’s Elena Beletkaia and Jose Pozo look to the stars — through the lenses of low-light cameras and gas detectors that can help inspect the habitability of Mars and the greenhouse gas emissions present on our own planet Earth. This technology includes IR sensors sensitive to specific gases, and high-resolution imaging systems that give scientists an accurate picture — sometimes light years away — of what is happening on the ground. Beletkaia also looks to the future potential of lidar applications in robotics and autonomous vehicles.

Enjoy the issue!


EuroPhotonics
Sep 2019
Editorial

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