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Photonics Spectra
Since 1967, Photonics Spectra magazine has defined the science and industry of photonics, providing both technical and practical information for every aspect of the global industry and promoting an international dialogue among the engineers, scientists and end users who develop, commercialize and buy photonics products. Stay current with a FREE subscription to the digital or print edition.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
May 2017

Slow and Steady Wins Free-Space Race

MICHAEL D. WHEELER, MANAGING EDITOR, michael.wheeler@photonics.com
Mike WheelerIt wasn’t long after the laser was invented in the early ’60s that many began speculating about the use of coherent light in communications. That would eventually come to fruition with the emergence of the first fiber optic telecommunication networks in the closing years of the 20th century. But developing a comparable space-based optical communications network capable of transmitting terabits of data proved more challenging, and only recently have the technology, components and economies of scale converged for successful proof-of-concept demonstrations.

Don Boroson of MIT Lincoln Laboratories has been a central figure in moving free-space laser communications from concept to reality, having worked on the architecture of the first space-to-ground laser communication system in 2001 and, more recently, on the NASA-sponsored Mars Laser Communications Demonstration study team. In “Free-Space Optical Communications Comes of Age” (read article), Boroson examines the evolution in transmitters and receivers, and highlights recent breakthroughs that include the European Data Relay System from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration, a joint project between MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and NASA.

Elsewhere in the magazine:

• Optical sensors for ophthalmic diagnostics, skin cancer detection and biometrics are smaller and more robust than ever. Don’t miss “Added Intelligence Transforms Medical Sensors Into Diagnostic Devices,” by Contributing Editor Marie Freebody (read article).

• Superluminescent LEDs may be less well-known than their LED and laser diode cousins, but their short temporal coherence makes them well-suited for imaging applications and use within fiber optic pressure sensors. Be sure to read Christian Velez’s “Superluminescent LEDs Bridge the Gap” (read article).

• In “A Breakthrough for Reference-Free Holography” (read article), KyeoReh Lee and YongKeun Park of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology discuss the use of a single-unit camera that incorporates an optical diffuser to capture holograms. Instead of using conventional optical lenses, diffusers such as frosted glass can extract light intensity and phase information from a single image, without a reference light.

• For more than 40 years, the red “Danger” sign served as a strong warning that high-power lasers were in use. Guidance from the American National Standards Institute in 2014 called for the use of the word “Warning” as the signal word, replacing “Danger” in some instances. Ken Barat examines the change in “Laser Safety Sign Changes Cause Confusion,” (read article).

• This month’s special section examines the fiber optics market, from telecommunications to seismic monitoring for the oil and gas industries. The “Fiber Optics Evolution” from Senior Editor Justine Murphy (read article).

Enjoy the issue!
Karen Newman Group Publisher Karen Newman has had a career in business-to-business and association publishing, much of it spent covering technical, scientific and life sciences subjects.
Mike Wheeler Michael D. Wheeler is managing editor of Photonics Spectra and EuroPhotonics. In addition, he is responsible for the editorial direction of BioPhotonics and Industrial Photonics.
Justine Murphy Senior Editor Justine Murphy is a multiple award-winning journalist who brings more than 15 years of experience to her role at Photonics Media.
Marcia Stamell Associate Managing Editor Marcia Stamell has worked for general interest newspapers, the business press and national magazines as a writer and editor.
 
Hank Hogan Contributing editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. Hogan worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody Contributing editor Marie Freebody is a free-lance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
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.
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