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EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
Sep 2019

Sensing a change in metrology


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!

Mike Wheeler
An accomplished journalist and editor, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonic Media's editorial operations, spanning print, online, and video. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Susan Petrie
Susan Petrie is Senior Editor of Photonics Spectra and has two decades of experience with print and digital publications. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Bennington College.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
 
Robin Riley
Multimedia/Web Editor Robin Riley has 30+ years of experience in communications and marketing for a range of technical industries. She is a regular contributor to web content and social media, and organizes and produces custom and editorial webinars.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
 
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
 
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