Heading home -- by planes, trains, and automobiles
By week’s end, more than 5,100 people had participated in 55 conferences, the 382-company exhibition, multiple industry programs, and 30-plus professional development courses, in what is the premier event for photonics, optical sensing, and imaging on the East Coast.
The event's success reaffirmed its value as a venue for government program managers, researchers, applications developers, and industry suppliers to meet and advance the science and technology of sensing and imaging for multiple applications. Its accessibility (although not of course with the help of the engine above, at one of Baltimore's many museums) near U.S. government labs in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and other nearby areas continues to serve the community.
A selection of the highlights follows below -- see what you may have missed!
QCL frequency combs for spectroscopy
Among Friday afternoon speakers was Jérôme Faist of ETH Zürich, who gave a keynote talk on quantum cascade laser (QCL) frequency combs for spectroscopy, in the conference on Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications.
Noting that the QCL has demonstrated the ability to provide gain over a very broad wavelength range, Faist demonstrated recent work with QCL optical combs have been produced in the THz region of the spectrum, even covering a full octave in bandwidth.
These new comb lasers enable the fabrication of a dual-comb spectrometer based on a QCL that offers a broadband, all solid-state spectrometer with no moving parts and a ultrafast acquisition time.
Among applications are measuring multiple gases simultaneously, and measurement in liquids, with medical applications such as detecting glucose.
Learn more about the technology in an SPIE Newsroom video interview with Professor Faist recorded at SPIE Photonics West.
More coffee, more conversation
Friday morning’s coffee break provided yet another chance to exchange ideas for new applications, new research, and new products, as presentations were still going strong in several of the conference rooms.
Airing challenges, finding solutions in the exhibition
The exhibition once againprovided an ideal opportunity to learn about customers' needs in all sectors, and to present their latest products, exhibitors reported.
"A lot of technology exists within the military and defense environment that is capable of being rolled out into the commercial world," said David Bannon,CEO of Headwall Photonics. "This event for us represents an opportunity to engage with researchers as well as leading deployers of the technology. We see such a mix of people from different branches of the defense community, it's a very important show for us to have a presence here."
"This event was very special for IJK Controls: it was the first time we exhibited at any event," said CEO Gunnar Ristroph. "Our booth was busy for the entire show with people operating and experiencing our gimbal technology. We had a wonderful time sharing our expertise in pointing, tracking and stabilization while learning about all the recent advances in sensors and optics."
"We gained the most benefit by listening to our customers' challenges in developing products or new research, providing us an opportunity to discuss solutions" said Jim Moore, OFS Marketing Manager, Defense, Aerospace, Government and Power Utilities. "OFS has continually supported the defense market with optical fiber based products for nearly two decades. Partnerships formed here are certainly part of that success."
Travel restrictions for U.S. government employees on attending conferences are still an issue for many.
"We were disappointed that our largest government customer wasn't able to get to the exhibit hall and see our products in person because of the travel and conference funding headaches," Ristroph said; where are "the uniforms?" asked another exhibitor.
Fiber sensor uses gas to measure high temperature
Most fiber sensors are based on measuring changes in solids or liquids. These methods generally only produce relative measurements, require calibration, and can have cross-sensitivity to strain.
Because of this, Ming Han of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has developed a high-temperature sensor using gas as the sensing element. Han’s unique design offers several benefits over traditional sensors, while enabling high temperature measurement (9480-24).
The sensor is based on a Fabry-Perot cavity that is created within an optical fiber through an air cavity between a single-mode fiber with side air holes and a solid single-mode fiber. A gap in the air hole fiber allows for gas to enter the cavity.
The cavity produces Fabry-Perot fringes in the transmission spectrum that shift with the pressure of the gas. The slope of the wavelength versus pressure graph allows for the calculation of the temperature.
This method requires no calibration, and gives a measurement of the absolute temperature, instead of a relative value like most other sensors. Additionally, the slope of the wavelength sift with pressure is independent of strain. This sensor was tested at 1,000 degrees Celsius and a standard deviation of only 3 degrees was measured. No spectral drift was observed over five days at this high-temperature.
‘Lab-on-a-chip’ enables desktop instruction in fluid mechanics
Michael Mauk of Drexel University talked about thermal imaging of microfluidic systems (paper 9485-49).
With a credit-card-sized plastic substrate of microfluidic channels and chambers, Mauk and coauthors have used thermal imaging to demonstrate how active mixing improves heat transfer. This “lab on a chip” technology has made it possible for universities to teach simple fluid mechanics concepts with a setup that can be done on a desktop, substantially reducing consumption of materials and energy.
Precise heating is critical to many biological studies in microfluidics, Mauk said, and thermal imaging allows students to watch flows develop and heat transfer.
Advancing OLEDs for consumer products
Kalluri Sarma (Honeywell Technology) gave an invited paper (9470-18) covering advances in OLED displays, reviewing several operational parameters of the new technologies.
He cited new products that have advanced the resolution and brightness of consumer-available OLED displays: the Galaxy Tab S tablet (288 pixels/inch) and the new Galaxy S6 smartphone (577 pixels/inch in a 1440x2560 AMOLED display).
Sarma said that Honeywell expects OLED lifetime to double or triple in the next two to four years.
A display honoring photonics luminaries in observance of the International Year of Light greets visitors to the exhibition hall (above); another display in the conference registration area (below) showcases applications of light-based technologies.
Fiber optic sensing for next-gen batteries
Peter Kiesel of PARC, a Xerox Company, reported on new fiber optic sensing technology invented at PARC, which can be embedded within next-generation batteries and other objects to interrogate and understand a variety of parameters including temperature, pressure, and chemical composition.
PARC is the inventor of this high-resolution, wavelength shift detection (WSD) and interrogator technology and is in the process of identifying market-facing partners interested in licensing and further commercializing the technology. Open Photonics is partnering with PARC on the next phase of commercialization of the technology, which can be used not only to monitor the internal condition of batteries, but also wind turbines, generators, engines, or structural health monitoring.
These sensors, developed with support from ARPA-E, provide significant advancements with applications in the growing market for battery management that can better predict, for example, miles-to-empty in an electric vehicle, better state-of-charge estimates, or reveal internal damage. Tiny optical wavelength shifts, at the picometer and even femtometer scale, provide immediate feedback via smart embedded sensors. These optical sensors provide better information about what is going on inside a battery than can be inferring by external measurement of voltage, current, and temperature.
This presentation was part of the SPIE Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications conference -- the largest annual gathering of scientists and engineers in the field of optical sensing for commercial, scientific, industrial, and environmental applications. Cochairs are Gary Pickrell, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Eric Udd, Columbia Gorge Research; and Henry Du, Stevens Institute of Technology.
Biometrics for security online
Security online is becoming increasingly important. Individual users want to be able to use the internet with complete anonymity, while also having private access to all of their personal accounts. In order to preserve both anonymity and personal data protection, new technologies are actively being developed. Some were discussed in a session on Biometric Privacy in the conference on Biometric and Surveillance Technology for Human and Activity Identification.
Biometrics, such as iris scanning, fingerprint, or facial recognition, are now being looked to as more secure than traditional passwords. However, with this new technology comes new risks. Biometric data may be more secure, but it also presents new potential threats. For instance, this biometric data could allow users online to determine personal characteristics about people, such as their gender, race, age, etc.
In an attempt to combat this, Asem Othman of Michigan State University presented the idea of an IrisPrint (9457-2). The IrisPrint is a combination of an iris scan and a fingerprint, mixed in such a way to hide the individual information. This enables a secure biometric password that does not allow any user to retrieve the specific fingerprint or iris information of the individual.
John Monaco of Pace University presented an alternative way that online anonymity may be threatened. This is through the analysis of time stamp data in online transactions (9457-3). Online monetary transactions, such as Bitcoin, are supposed to be completely anonymous.
However, each transaction is time stamped. Time stamps can show when users make transactions, how many transactions they make, and the type of transactions most commonly made. By analyzing this data, Monaco was able to show that users from multiple addresses could be linked. For true anonymity in the future, time stamp data may need to be altered or removed from such transactions.
High-temperature sensing in harsh environments
High-temperature sensing in harsh environments is a complicated, but extremely important area of research for fields such as oil drilling, nuclear reactors, and gas turbines. Developing new sensors and understanding how those sensors behave in harsh atmospheres are key to enabling these industries to perform well. Some of these were detailed in a joint session for conferences on Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications; and Sensors for Extreme Harsh Environments.
Nicholas Djeu of MicroMaterials, Inc., presented two unique designs for high-temperature sensing, both based on ytterbium-doped phosphors (9467-55). In the first design, a monolithic probe is created by growing single crystal Yb:YAG on the facet of an un-doped YAG fiber. This enables temperature measurements up to 1600 degrees Celsius; however, the fabrication of the device is rather expensive and is not uniform.
Using a simpler manufacturing process, a microsphere probe device is fabricated by placing a Yb:YAG microsphere on the facet of a standard silica fiber. The trade-off for the less expensive and more uniform manufacturing is a lower maximum operating temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius.
An improvement in the sensitivity of the microsphere device was realized through co-doping the YAG with ytterbium and terbium, enabling measurement throughout the temperature range from 100-1100 degrees Celsius.
For many harsh environment sensing applications, hydrogen will be present in the atmosphere. Silica optical fibers can be negatively affected by the hydrogen, and these effects are heavily dependent on the temperature of the environment.
Elizabeth Bonnell of Virginia Tech presented an analysis of the hydrogen induced loss at several wavelengths for the temperature range of 20-800 degrees Celsius (9467-57). It was shown that fiber exposed to hydrogen experienced hydrogen darkening in the form of strong absorption bands at 1.4 um and 2.2 um.
The loss at these wavelengths is highly dependent on temperature, so it is imperative that when using silica fiber for sensing in hydrogen environments that this behavior is well characterized and accounted for in the measurements.
Taking stock of the industry -- and looking ahead
Industry programs continued on Wednesday, with a panel discussion on the potential of industry and government collaboration, an update from the SPIE team on is analysis of the size of the photonics market, and an overview of DARPA programs with the potential of change several technology landscapes.
The SPIE team found that photonics-enabled global market in defense and security was logged $216 billion in sales last year, reported SPIE Industry and Market Analyst Steve Anderson (at right). The sector includes 570 companies who are responsible for 560,000 jobs, he said. The three largest segments, which account for the lion’s share of the market, are the aerospace and defense industry, anti-counterfeiting, and video surveillance, Anderson said.
“Light will become the next frequency,” William Chappell, Deputy Director of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, told an overflow audience gathered for his talk, with important enabling technologies including lasers, detectors, nonlinear optics, silicon chips, and others.
Chappell characterized military needs as a niche manufacturing market. The next generation of microsystem technology will involve heterogeneous integration of blended electronic and optical designs, to facilitate requirements including personalization, rapid design and portability, and security.
Changing the world with specialty cameras
FLIR Systems displayed its innovative culture on the exhibit floor with the help of documentary-maker Louis Psihoyos (above, with FLIR Senior Research Scientist Austin Richards, at left) on Tuesday and nature-show-host Casey Anderson (at left below) on Wednesday -– not in a traditional booth, but on its Center Stage.
Psihoyos told how he used FLIR cameras to further his goal to use photography “to change the way people see the world.” His Academy-Award-winning documentary "The Cove" was made using underwater, surveillance, and other capabilities enabled by FLIR’s technology. In his soon-to-be-released document "Racing Extinction," Psihoyos used filters developed by FLIR that make gases such as methane and CO2 visible.
Anderson, television host and producer of National Geographic’s “America the Wild” and “Expedition Wild” -- winner of a Parents’ Choice Award -- discussed his documentary, "Wild Nights, The Dark Planet Revealed." He demonstrated how FLIR thermal cameras have enabled him to see previously unseen frontier and wildlife in the night. "FLIR technology has opened up a new world for me," Anderson said.
See more photos from the SPIE DSS Expo in the event photo gallery.
Lighting up the evening
Flashing LED bracelets, a logo-emblazoned ice sculpture, a delicious local menu, and a museum-quality display helped celebrate the International Year of Light at an evening reception on Wednesday for conference organizers and other guests. See more photos in the event photo gallery.
ITAR regulation changes? Speak up!
It is anticipated that someday very soon a comment period will be announced for proposed new rules for U.S. Munitions List (USML) Category XII, which governs the commodities covered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The rewrite is part of an overarching Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative undertaken by the Administration.
With that in mind, Chris Costanzo from the U.S. Department of Commerce presented background on the regulations, a synopsis of the history and logic behind such rules, and guidelines for how the comment period might work, to a very engaged audience in an industry program session Tuesday evening.
Category XII covers many of the optics and photonics commodities and components controlled under ITAR.
Over and over Costanzo urged his audience to step up and comment. “Industry’s input is important,” he said.
SPIE plans to sponsor a webinar on 6 May to advise on how to comment, and will release details when a comment period is announced.
Among many complex issues in balance in the discussion raised by audience members are the need to protect the nation’s warfighters, the need to support the economy, and ramifications on workforce and university research.
Say it with a poster
The week's two poster sessions drew large and enthusiastic crowds to the convention center mezzanine on Thursday evening (above) and Tuesday evening (below), offering the chance to talk one-on-one with paper authors and catch up with colleagues. See more photos in the event photo gallery.
Technology for security
David Law (at right), Technology Division Chief of the U.S. Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, was awarded the 2015 Eric A. Lehrfeld Award by conference chair Edward Carapezza, on behalf of the Defense, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement program track.
The award recognizes outstanding contributions to global homeland security, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attacks on America, reminding and stimulating us all to apply technology to better secure our homelands.
Carapezza chairs the conference on Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence Technologies for Homeland Security, Defense, and Law Enforcement Applications.
Engaging with researchers and deployers: SPIE DSS Expo
Crowded aisles and busy booths made exhibitors happy on opening day of the three-day SPIE DSS Expo. The exhibition continued to be the right place to be for suppliers of sensing, imaging, and other technology for multiple uses.
“A lot of technology exists within the military/defense environment that is capable of being rolled out into the commercial world,” said David Bannon is CEO of Headwall Photonics. “This event for us represents an opportunity to engage with researchers as well as leading deployers of the technology. We use this as one of our cornerstone events throughout the year. We see such a mix of people from different branches of the defense community, it’s a very important show for us to have a presence at.”
Among new products being launched, Thermoteknix Systems Ltd. Announced its MicroCAM3, a fully waterproof module that may be integrated into OEM tech fof aerospace, defense, policy, security, border patrol, search and rescue, wildlife monitoring, scientific and R&D applications.
SensUp announced its Fiber Laser Rangefinder, for medium- and long-distance measurements of static or moving targets.
See more photos in the event photo gallery.
Inaugurating the Fumio Okano Award
From left, Jun Arai, Jung-Young Son, Eugene Arthurs, Bahram Javidi, Hong Hua (front), Hiromi Okano, Dr. and Mrs. Okano's son, Kenji Yamamato, and Manual Martinez-Corral
Showcasing some of the exceptional events at DSS this week was the Three-Dimensional Imaging, Visualization, and Display conference Best Paper Award. Conference Chairs Bahram Javidi (University of Connecticut) and Jung-Young Son (Konyang University) were proud to present the inaugural Fumio Okano Best Paper Award for the papers presented in the 2014 conference (SPIE vol. 9117) to three winners: Dr. Hong Hua, for the paper, "Eyetracked optical see-through head-mounted display as an AAC device"; Dr. Kenji Yamamoto, for the paper, "Integral photography capture and electronic holography display" and Dr. Manuel Martinez-Corral, for the paper "From the plenoptic camera to the flat integral-imaging display." The full details about these papers including the list of coauthors can be found at www.spie.org/Publications/Proceedings/Volume/9117.
SPIE leadership was on-hand to commemorate this occasion. SPIE President-Elect Dr. Robert Lieberman spoke of Dr. Okano's great contributions to the field of 3D imaging, and SPIE CEO Dr. Eugene Arthurs thanked Mrs. Okano and Dr. Okano's son for attending the presentation, and for allowing the conference chairs and SPIE to commemorate Okano's important contributions to the field of 3D displays.
Okano and his colleagues at NHK rejuvenated the potential of integral photography as a viable approach for 3D displays. He made numerous innovations and refinements of integral photography 3D display systems. His publications are frequently cited by researchers in this domain.
Dr. Javidi commented that Okano's leadership in this field will be greatly missed and he shall be remembered for his enduring innovations and contributions in the field of 3D displays. B. Javidi, J. Y. Son, and the SPIE leadership are grateful to NHK-ES for their support and sponsorship of the award.
The Fumio Okano Best 3D Paper Prize is sponsored by NHK-ES, and will be presented annually in memory of Dr. Fumio Okano for his enduring contributions to the field of 3D TV and Display. Conference chairs urge authors to submit papers for future consideration of the Okano Best Paper Award to the Three-Dimensional Imaging, Visualization, and Display conference which is held annually in April or May at the SPIE Sensing Technology + Applications in Baltimore.
See more award photos in the event photo gallery.
Temperature and turbulence in underwater imaging
There are many challenges to underwater imaging, and one of the most prevalent is turbulence -- the chaotic change of some property in time. For instance, small temperature changes in the water lead to variations in the local refractive index, which can distort underwater images.
Among papers on the topic in a session on Underwater Optical Imaging and Ranging in the conference on Ocean Sensing and Monitoring, Silvia Matt of the U.S. Naval Research Lab reported on developing a laboratory water tank system where turbulence due to temperature fluctuations could be controlled and analyzed. Specifically, the water in the tank could be heated from below, and cooled from the top, allowing for convective turbulence throughout the 5 meter long tank.
Additionally, simulations were performed to analyze the turbulence for different temperature variations, and was found to closely match that measured in the laboratory.
A fiber optic temperature sensor was also placed in this tank to monitor the fluctuations. Guigen Liu, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, presented the miniature sensor consisting of a small cylinder of silicon placed on the facet of a single mode fiber. The silicon acts as a Fabry-Perot interferometer, creating sharp fringes in the transmission spectrum. The fringes then shift with changes in temperature, due to the thermo-optic coefficient of the silicon.
Because of the high thermo-optic coefficient of silicon compared to silica, the sensitivity of this device to temperature change is about 7 times larger than that of fiber Bragg gratings. Also, because of the very small size of the silicon cylinder, the time response of the device is only on the order of 5 miliseconds. This allows for very fast measurement of temperature variations as small as 0.001 degrees Celsius, enabling good understanding of the water turbulence for imaging applications.
You be the judge: International Year of Light Photo Contest 'People's Choice' voting
Which of the 32 amazing photographs that qualified as finalists in the SPIE International Year of Light (IYL) Photo Contest will you choose? Voting opened this week for the People's Choice Award, in the contest sponsored by SPIE Professional magazine. You can vote online at www.spie.org/IYLphoto -- or stop by the IYL booth in the SPIE registration area at the convention center, and cast your vote for the photo that you think best illustrates the contest theme of light and light-based technologies in daily life.
While at the booth, pick up a copy of the free book "Celebrating Light: 50 Ways Light-Based Technologies Enrich Our World" (at right) to take home to share with friends, family, or customers. The book was produced by SPIE to celebrate the United Nations-designated International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies in 2015.
SPIE is a Founding Partner of the IYL. More information including how to become involved in the effort to raise awareness of the importance of light and photonics is at www.spie.org/IYL.
Smartphone spectroscopy, for health and more
As the technology in our smartphones continues to improve, potential uses for them grow as well beyond simple communication and web browsing. The cameras in smartphones are now being used for spectroscopy for various applications, including healthcare, food and drug safety, and environmental monitoring. The topic was examined in a session Tuesday in the conference on Next-Generation Spectroscopy Technologies.
For example, Kenneth Long of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed the use of a smartphone spectrometer for the measurement of peanut allergens in various cookies, identifying which bakeries had cross contamination between different batches of baked goods.
While less obvious than food allergies, the presence of aerosols in our atmosphere can also effect many aspects of our lives; from our health, to climate change, and even the cancellation of flights due to volcanic ash.
William Hoving presented work done at Leiden Observatory on using a smartphone spectrometer to measure aerosol levels in the atmosphere. The iSPEX spectrometer can measure the spectrum, polarization, and angle of the aerosols, giving a full fine dust measurement, through the process of spectral modulation. This allows for the calculation of the amount, size, and composition of the particles in the air.
In 2013, 10,000 iSPEX spectrometers were produced and sent out to citizen volunteers across the Netherlands. On 8 July, over 200,000 photos were taken and the data was collected and compiled, enabling a clear picture of the aerosol levels across the country. A pan-European campaign is planned for September 2015, in honor of the International Year of Light.
Sensors for next-generation warfighter capabilities: David Brown plenary talk
Photonics technologies, in particular sensors, will provide crucial research and engineering capabilities needed for next-generation warfighters, plenary speaker David Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Developmental Test and Evaluation, told his audience Monday evening.
Brown, a retired U.S. Army colonel whose credentials include an adjunct professorship at Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the University of Delaware, knew he was speaking to the right audience. An engineer himself, Brown said he has had a long acquaintance with SPIE.
The nature of conflict has changed in some significant ways, Brown said. Going forward, conflict will occur in the commons -- areas that have no domain owners –- and will involve state actors as well as non-state actors.
Technology offsets will continue to be important, but of different sorts than the asymmetric capabilities the U.S. built in the late 1950s, or the “own-the-night” emphasis of the 1980s.
Challenges in this era of “the rise of the commons” include modern electronic warfare, ballistic and cruise missile defense, precision navigation and timing, communications, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, integrated air defense, cyber threats, and weapons of mass destruction, Brown said.
At the same time, the DoD is concerned that a return to budget sequestration would cause delays or cancellation of capabilities under development, Brown said, listing programs such as the Aerospace Innovation Initiative, Next Generation Adaptive Engine, Ground-based Interceptor missile defense system, and space control efforts.
To help mitigate threats, develop affordable new and extended capabilties in existing systems, and create “technology surprise” through science and engineering, the U.S. will work toward a smaller, leaner, technologically advanced military, Brown said. The aim will be to protect and prioritze existing investments, rebalance the nation’s global posture, and build partnerships and strengthen alliances, to be able to confront and defeat aggression.
Returning to the area of his audience’s expertise, Brown said that highly sophisticated sensors of several types –- electro-optical and infrared, acoustic, seismic, and magnetic, and radio frequency -- would provide valuable capabilities. “Share your ideas,” he invited.
Honoring achievements in lidar
At the start of the plenary session Monday evening, SPIE President-Elect Robert Lieberman presented the 2015 SPIE George W. Goddard Award to Grady Tuell, Associate Director of the Electro-Optical Systems Lab at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
The award recognizes Tuell’s foundational research and development in bathymetric lidar and data fusion, and his efforts to further advance airborne lidar remote sensing in other ways including real-time calculation of total propagated positioning error.
At right, Lieberman (at left) and Tuell celebrate the event at the SPIE DSS Welcome Reception following the plenary talk.
Sensing technologies for additive manufacturing
As additive manufacturing (AM) becomes a larger part of many industries, sensing technologies are needed in order to monitor the quality of these new processes. A panel discussion led by Edward Reutzel of the Applied Research Lab as part of the conference on Dimensional Optical Metrology and Inspection for Practical Applications discussed the advances and issues of current sensing technologies for additive manufacturing.
One of the main issues discussed was the vast amount of information that needs to be collected from the various sensors during the manufacturing. Temperature, current, acoustic, and visual data are all collected simultaneously to monitor the additive manufacturing process.
Edward Herderick of GE Corporation noted that computer power is currently limiting the ability for in-situ certification of manufactured parts.
Another technology that limits the monitoring of AM is thermal imaging. The imaging systems used for analyzing traditional welds are not appropriate for AM, due to the much smaller size and increased speed of the melt pool.
Connie Reichert LaMorte of the Edison Welding Institute pointed out that sensors need to be rugged enough to operate in offshore applications for the oil and gas industries.
Mark Schaub of Wolf Robotics showed the ability to do additive manufacturing on very large scales by using robotics. One of the issues that Schaub sees facing this industry is the addition of new materials that will need significant testing and calibration before being able to be integrated into standard processes.
Additive manufacturing will no doubt have a great impact on many industries in the future. In order to quickly move forward with this new and exciting technology, sensors and their analysis processes need to evolve to meet the new demands of AM.
Networking with the next generation
Hosted by SPIE Student Services, the Lunch with the Experts brings together scientists willing to share their experience and wisdom on career paths in optics and photonics.
Attendees enjoyed a casual meal with colleagues at this engaging networking opportunity. SPIE President-Elect Robert Lieberman welcomed the crowd and urged students to take every advantage to learn from those who already have established careers.
See more photos in the event photo gallery.
Sensing atmospheric chemicals, homemade weapons -- or stowaways in cargo
Advanced sensing capabilities are actively being developed for a wide variety of applications. Whether it’s measuring dangerous chemicals in the air, or finding people stowed away in sealed cargo, our safety is reliant on these developing technologies.
For both investigating methane levels in order to better understand climate change, and searching for homemade chemical weapons, the field of Infrared spectroscopy has shown to have great potential in many fields. In a keynote talk (9456-1) Panos Datskos of Oak Ridge National Lab showed an IR spectroscopy system utilizing four quantum cascade lasers that cover the ranges of 3-5 um and 7-12 um. The paper was part of the conference on Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence Technologies for Homeland Security, Defense, and Law Enforcement Applications.
This broad wavelength range allows for the detection of chemicals with very low concentrations. In addition to sensing the presence of certain dangerous chemicals, an imaging array can enable the production of a chemical image of a solid object, showing the exact location of the chemicals.
Additionally, the ability to see inside sealed cargo is also very important. With 200 million shipping containers being moved around the world annually, fast and effective ways of scanning the cargo are needed. Sensing through the walls of metal cargo containers can be done with gamma rays, however this is not safe when considering the possibility of people being stowed away inside these containers as a means of travel.
The only current technology that can safely sense people behind the metal walls is acoustic. Franklin Felber of Starmark, Inc., explained that the acoustic method couples sounds waves into the containers through the walls, and measures the output waves’ interference on detectors (9456-2). The interference then shows any movement within the container.
While this technology has been around since the 1990s, recent technological advances have extended the range and power of the system. New acoustic transmitters that are mechanical and battery operated enable high intensity, narrowband pulses of acoustic waves with low power consumption.
Additional improvements in the coupling of the sound into the container and the design and placement of the sensors have further increased the system performance. The acoustic detection method can scan two metal containers per minute, and detect whether or not people are inside within 5-15 seconds. The scanning unit is compact, low cost, and can be remotely operated for the rapid scanning of many stacked containers.
One of the first speakers in the Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications conference, Dae-Hyeong Kim (Seoul National University, Korea) described possibilities of stretchable inorganic nanosensors for healthcare devices, including transient electronics using bioresorbable/biocompatible materials and electronics implanted for medical applications (9467-11).
The session, titled, Flexible, Stretchable, Transient Electronics: What's Next?, was, along with many conferences on infrared systems and sensor technology, among the most well-attended on opening morning.
Enhancing information fusion
A panel session on Issues and Challenges of the Applications of Context to Enhance Information Fusion in the conference on Signal Processing, Sensor/Information Fusion, and Target Recognition included experts from government, academia, and industry. Organized by Erik Blasch, U.S. Air Force Research Lab. and Ivan Kadar, the panel discussed the role of contextual information, historical experience, anomalies and out-of-the-box thinking, prediction, search/identification, algorithms, and high-performance computing, plus the mix of machine learning and human analysts required for the development of information fusion systems. This panel was one of hundreds of related presentations at SPIE DSS reporting the latest methods in signal processing, sensor/information fusion, and target recognition.
Above, from left, panelists are (front row) Paul Tandy, Defense Threat Reduction Agency; Laurie Fenstermacher, U.S. Air Force Research Lab.; Ronald Mahler, Consultant; Ivan Kadar, Interlink Systems Sciences, Inc.; (back row) Jay Yang, Rochester Institute of Technology; Alan Steinberg, Consultant; Alex Chan, U.S. Army Research Lab.; and Chee-Yee Chong, Consultant.
What a welcome!
Hundreds of early DSS attendees enjoyed the mild weather on the short walk to the Maryland Science Center for the DSS Welcome Reception -- later arriving attendees were treated to a brief hailstorm. The stroll along the Baltimore Inner Harbor, delicious food and drink sponsored by FLIR, and the relaxed atmosphere provided a well-needed break from the full schedule of conferences and courses on Monday. See more photos from the reception in the SPIE DSS photo gallery.
STEM outreach makes a difference, relies on volunteers
|Michael Eismann shares
successes resulting from
an ARFL outreach program
to help increase the flow of
students into STEM fields.
Supply is not keeping up with demand in the science and engineering workforce, in the U.S. and many other countries. But volunteers -- such as the room full of SPIE Fellows who made up his audience -- are part of the remedy, said speaker Michael Eismann, Chief Scientist in the Sensors Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Workforce demand -- positions in the field -- in science and engineering in the U.S. are approximately 4% of total jobs, but supply -- qualified candidates -- is about 3%, Eismann said. For AFRL, this is particularly problematic because they are required to hire U.S. citizens for many positions, so are not able to tap into that full supply.
The problem is part of the motivation behind several programs at AFRL sites around the country, with the goals of helping to increase the flow in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline, and developing relationships between promising students and the Air Force.
A program Eismann himself is involved with was developed in collaboration with teachers, public school administrators, industry representatives, and government volunteers such as himself in the Wright-Patterson area. Thye identified where in the curriculum science and engineering could be introduced on an ongoing basis, and developed problem-based, inquiry-instruction lessons for teachers to adopt.
The result? The program has trained more than 1,000 teachers who have in turned reached more than 100,000 students. The program has made "great strides" in reaching minorities and girls, who have not previously entered STEM fields in high percentages so represent "untapped populations" for the workforce of the future.
Eismann stressed that programs such as this rely on volunteers, and encouraged the audience of SPIE Fellows to become involved in STEM outreach to students from elementary school and older in their communities.
See photos of the three new Fellows of SPIE who were recognized by SPIE President-Elect Robert Lieberman during the luncheon.
Back to Baltimore, for sensors, imaging, infrared, and more photonics!
Engineers, scientists, researchers, program managers, and applications developers are back in Baltimore for SPIE DSS, the industry's most important scientific conference and exhibition on optics, infrared (IR) imaging, lasers, and sensing for defense, security, industry, healthcare, and the environment.
Monday's conferences saw strong turnout for the first of the week's more than 2,000 technical presentations; above, the audience for morning sessions of the Infrared Technologies and Applications conference.
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