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Spatial Light Modulators Help Machines 'See' Faster

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Jeff Frisk, Displaytech; and Rob Morrison, Avalon Imaging

Once, our eyes were all the quality control we needed. But as products became more complex -- containing more, smaller parts -- so did the need for quicker, more efficient inspection techniques. Photonics technology has mirrored the increasing complexity with its own advancement, and manufacturers have counted on laser scanning devices to inspect product-laden assembly lines.
However, production continues to outpace the capabilities of inspection systems; scanned inspection techniques required intense, linear computations that are difficult to accomplish even with today’s increasing computer power. Optical computing using spatial light modulators has been an option, but it has not been able to keep pace with the increasing production. More recently, however, a new spatial light modulator technology has turned optical computing into a real-time inspector that’s smaller, cheaper and -- most importantly -- faster than its predecessors.

B>Modulators Move into the Factory
Avalon Imaging of Boulder, Colo., has incorporated ferroelectric integrated circuit spatial light modulator technology from Displaytech into an optical correlation-based system to inspect printed circuit boards online. The unit verifies that the proper part has been correctly placed on the and marks boards with incorrectly placed parts for rework.

Photonics Spectra
Feb 1997

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