That's entertainment -- as well as defense and much more
IJK Controls of South Pasadena brought its stabilized gimbal to the show floor, to demonstrate its capabilities in pointing and tracking for movie cameras. The gimbal was introduced last year, and -- with unlimited travel in every axis -- in just a few months produced "brand new cinematography on all the big movies coming out this year," according to IJK representative Gunnar Ristroph, including sequels to "Independence Day," "Star Wars," and "Pirates of the Caribbean," as well as recent Academy Award winner, "The Revenant."
Ristroph said they are "super excited" for next year's DCS event to come to Anaheim.
"There's a lot of expertise in southern California on detectors and optics, and I think having it in Anaheim is going to be really exciting for both the defense and movie expertise in that community," he said.
See the video [3:41] for more.
'Best in years': the SPIE DCS Expo
"This is the best Defense show in 10 years," Scott Hamlin of MegaWatt Lasers told SPIE. Hamlin was among those who loved Tuesday night's pub crawl in the exhibition hall, and said he is looking forward to the rotation of locations among Baltimore, Anaheim, and Orlando.
Amazing infrared cameras, imaging and display systems, sensors, and much more from 359 exhibiting companies were on display Tuesday through Thursday. See more photos in the event photo gallery.
Opening day: conferences begin
Several conferences opened Sunday morning, in both the Defense and Security and the Commercial and Scientific Sensing and Imaging tracks. Among the talks:
Leslie Rogers of the University of California Berkeley and the University of Chicago reported on current best estimates of planet populations, in an invited talk (9836-1) in the conference on Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications. She focused on the occurrence rate of habitable zone rocky planets, a strong influence on the design of future space-based exoplanet direct detection missions such as TESS, CHEOPS, and PLATO.
Adam Phenis of AMP Optics (below), reported on work in IR optical material refractive index measurements, variations, and standards done in collaboration with NIST and Lockheed Martin (9822-5), to the standing-room-only audience gathered for the opening session in Advanced Optics for Defense Applications: UV through LWIR. The conference is one of seven new conferences this year at SPIEDCS. The first session, on Materials, was chaired by Jasbinder Sanghera of the U.S. Naval Research Lab and Clara Rivero-Baleine of Lockheed Martin.
In an afternoon session of the same conference, Adam Sroka of Thales UK presented on time-resolved nonsequential ray-tracing modelling of non-line-of-site picosecond pulse LIDAR, to enable detection and tracking of a moving object hidden behind an obstruction (9822-17). The method provides a crucial advantage when physically going around the obstacle is impossible or dangerous.
|Adam Phenis presents to a full audience in the new Advanced Optics for Defense conference.
Improvements to THz sources operating at room temperature
Manijeh Razeghi, director of the Center for Quantum Devices at Northwestern University, recently turned her attention to the lack of practical, effective far-infrared sources in the 1–5 THz frequency range. She reported on recent results in the opening keynote talk (9856-1) Sunday morning in the conference on THz Physics, Devices, and Systems.
Infrared sources in the 1–5 THz range are desirable in many applications, such as bio-imaging, security screening, remote sensing, and particularly telecommunications. These sources are generally GaAs-based quantum-cascade lasers (QCLs). However, until recently, GaAs-based QCLs were unable to achieve room temperature operation, making them impractical for most research purposes.
Razeghi's research has resulted in a THz source which makes use of the intracavity difference-frequency generation of the nonlinear effects in mid-infrared QCLs. Her team has achieved a THz peak power of 1.9 mW at 3.51 THz, a continuous-wave THz power of up to 14 μW, and continuous frequency tuning capabilities.
Razeghi’s team plans to further improve their design with increased doping in the QCL active region and wider device areas.
Improving biosensor capabilities with enhanced surface plasmon resonance
The development of biosensors allows for rapid, on-site detection of toxins and pathogens, making them useful for monitoring food safety, making medical diagnoses, and preventing terrorism (a combination of markets worth billions of dollars).
Lori Lepak of Phoebus Optoelectronics Sunday afternoon presented the results of research done with City College of New York on improving biosensor performance and practicality for on-site deployment (9862-7).
Most biosensors utilize surface plasmon resonance (SPR), where detector proteins are attached to one side of a (typically gold) chip, and they bind to specific target materials on the opposite side. If a target binds to the chip surface, the refractive index will change, indicating a positive detection of the toxin or pathogen.
|Strong start: Early registrations
reflected an upward trend as attendees
gathered for the symposium.
Lepak's team focused on enhancing the SPR process in a biosensor, by employing metasurface-bound, designed, supercharged proteins on the detector. These proteins undergo large conformational changes when bound to a target, further increasing the change in refractive index.
With these improvements, Lepak presented the design for a handheld biosensor with sensitivities 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than current state-of-the-art SPR chips.
Astrophysics at NASA: looking toward the future, and beyond
Mario Perez of the NASA Headquarters Astrophysics Division kicked off the second session of the Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications conference on Sunday afternoon, with a keynote presentation on NASA's Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT) program [9836-5].
Established in 2009, SAT selects investigations to support in technology maturation, quantified using the Technology Readiness Level (TRL).
Similar to the Astrophysics division, SAT is divided into three main categories, which attempt to answer the following questions: How did we get here? Are we alone? How does the universe work?
More than 40 investigations have been selected for assistance in technology maturation, focused on improving detectors, optics and coatings, mirrors and structures, and high-efficiency cooling systems.
Coffee breaks mean connections
|Coffee breaks provide excellent opportunity to check in with colleagues,
as attendees fill the hall on Monday afternoon between sessions.
'Ultrafast' among new conferences
|Eric Mazur, Glenn Boreman, Eugene Arthurs
A new conference this year on Ultrafast Bandgap Photonics, chaired by Michael Rafailov of the University of Alberta and Eric Mazur of Harvard University, was among many starting Monday morning.
Mazur gave the first talk (9835-1), on using ultrafast laser pulses to change band structures (at right, from left, Mazur with SPIE President-Elect Glenn Boreman and SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs).
FOG technology marks 40 years
Among long-standing conferences opening on Monday, Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications began the week with the first of several sessions marking the 40th anniversary of the fiber optic gyro (FOG), which has found applications such as in navigation systems of many guided missiles, remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, and surveying.
Eric Udd of Columbia Gorge Research gave the opening talk on the early history of the technology (9852-1), including among his references a paper published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 425, "Fiber-optic acoustic sensor based on the Sagnac interferometer."
Udd chairs the conference, along with Gary Pickrell of Virginia Tech and Henry Du of Stevens Institute of Technology.
New Fellows honored
Four new Fellows of the Society were recognized and presented with plaques and pins by SPIE President Robert Lieberman and SPIE President-Elect Glenn Boreman at a luncheon Monday afternoon. The new Fellows and their fields of expertise are (above, with Boreman and Lieberman):
- Armin Doerry, Sandia National Labs, imaging microwave radar technology development, design and analysis.
- Gary Pickrell, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, optical fiber and optical fiber sensor research, development and education.
- Ingmar Renhorn, Renhorn IR Consulting, infrared and electro-optical systems.
- Martin Stickley, Consultant, high-power lasers.
Image understanding: an expert's insights
Fellows luncheon speaker Majid Rabbani (Rochester Institute of Technology) described advances and challenges in image understanding -- the task of recognizing objects in a scene, discovering their relationships and semantics, and identifying the scene category.
Applications include smart capture, visual mobile search, intelligent image processing, semantic image search and retrieval, image/video utilization, security and surveillance, intelligent asset selection, and targeted advertising.
Rabbani described how human and computer vision capabilities differ, and how advances in deep learning over the last 10 years have increased computer image recognition to a level as good or in some applications with better accuracy than human vision.
Rabbani is a symposium co-chair for Commercial + Scientific Sensing + Imaging 2016, a Fellow of SPIE, and serves as chair of the SPIE Fellows Committee.
Ultralight robots to replace increasingly heavy tractors
Our vision of the American Midwest may soon incorporate armies of robotic farmers, rather than an imposing John Deere amidst green crops and stormy skies. Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University College gave an overview Monday morning of recent advances in robotic agriculture and precision farming (9866 - 27).
Blackmore's invited paper followed an opening talk by Alex Thomasson of Texas A&M University (TAMU) in the new conference on Autonomous Air and Ground Sensing Systems for Agricultural Optimization and Phenotyping. Thomasson and TAMU colleague John Valasek are conference chairs.
Current farming practices waste energy on inaccurate targeting of healthy and damaged crops. Heavy tractors damage the soil via compaction, and farming machines cannot get any larger.
Blackmore and his cohorts at the National Center for Precision Farming are working to overhaul current farming practices by intelligently targeting inputs and energy usage. The team has developed lightweight robots capable of planting seeds in fields even at full moisture capacity, without compacting and damaging the soil.
Robots have also been designed with micro-tillage capabilities, which would target the soil at individual seed positions, and work is being done on selective harvesting of crops for quality assurance.
As they cannot use larger machines, small- and mid-sized farms are expected to see the largest yield increase from these initiatives. With the development of precision agriculture, farms will use less energy, create less pollution, and become more economically sustainable overall.
Previews of IR applications
|The vendor presentation by Sven-A. Wode
of InfraTec GmbH, at left, is introduced by
session chair Andres Rozlosnik.
Monday afternoon's vendor presentations session and reception in the Thermosense conference provided previews of thermal infrared applications to be featured in the Defense + Commercial Sensing Expo Tuesday through Thursday.
Organized by Andres Rozlosnik of SI Termografía Infrarroja and Sheng-Jen (Tony) Hsieh of Texas A&M University, the session featured brief presentations from hardware and software vendors whose product lines impact thermal imaging applications. The session has become a popular, well-attended success since it was first held 12 years ago.
Unlocking Alzheimer's secrets
Many know or have known someone with Alzheimer's disease, which affects 1 in 6 people over the age of 80. People between 45-60 years of age account for 1 in every 20 cases of Alzheimer's. Sabah Jassim of the University of Buckingham presented work Monday in the conference on Mobile, Multimedia/Image Processing, Security, and Applicationsi on a new tool designed to assist biologists in Alzheimer's research (9869-12).
An automated system is proposed to count and classify different blood vessels found in the hippocampus, the region of the brain primarily responsible for memories and navigation, and one of the first regions to become damaged during the onset of Alzheimer's.
In the first phase an automatic system was successfully implemented to detect a region of interest in the hippocampus in mice brains, using both linear and polynomial Hough Transforms. Test images were successfully segmented.
Future work will further automate the system to count and classify blood vessels and one day soon biologists may have means to automatically detect brain scans indicative of Alzheimer's.
High-harmonic generation in solids
Direct imaging of molecular orbitals has been made possible by the generation of high harmonics when an intense light, such as a laser, interacts with an atomic or molecular gas. The effect leads to soft x-rays and attosecond pulses, a timescale which allows for direct observation of most electronic dynamics in atoms and molecules.
High harmonics have also been generated from solids (bulk crystals) recently. In a keynote talk on Monday, Paul Corkum of the University of Ottawa spoke to the future of this technology in the Ultrafast Bandgap Photonics conference (9835-8).
In studying zinc oxide, Corkum's team found a recollision effect similar to that seen in gases. In the case of solids, an electron-hole pair is recombined rather than an electron-ion pair.
Results show that very small electric fields, such as those found in conventional electronic devices, will perturb the high order harmonics.
By using a two-color field to generate the harmonics, tomography can also reconstruct the band structure of the solid under observation. These results will potentially lead to applications of attosecond physics to semiconductors.
Congratulations: the Dennis Gabor Award
Ting-Chung Poon, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, was presented with the 2016 SPIE Dennis Gabor Award in recognition of his pioneering contributions to optical scanning holography, which has contributed significantly to the development of novel digital holography and 3D imaging.
SPIE President Robert Lieberman made the presentation at the start of Monday's plenary session.
Poon is a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and is a Fellow of SPIE. He chairs SPIE conferences on holography, diffractive optics, and information processing.
Plenary talks: what's ahead at DARPA and HSARPA
Creating greater U.S. resilience in outer space is the most pressing defense-related challenge in the field of sensing, said Bradford Tousley, director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in his Monday evening plenary talk.
He said the U.S. needs to promote airport-like efficiency for space ventures, reported optics.org. "Airplanes get from point A to point B with minimum delay, no matter the weather or any reason.
Research in sensing technologies will return the biggest benefit in the future by getting more satellites into space, Tousley said. Sensing now provides excellent awareness of where airplanes are on Earth, for the most part. But, he said, "We do not understand this in space."
In the session's second plenary talk, Patrick Carrick, director of the Advance Research Project Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSARPA), explained the inner workings of the agency and its department. He runs a research and development operation with an annual budget of about $300 million.
|From left, Defense + Security symposium chair
David Logan of BAE Systems, Patrick Carrick,
SPIE President Robert Lieberman, Bradford Tousley,
SPIE DCS steering committee member Nils Sandell
of DARPA, and SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.
Among HSARPA's many projects are the operation and tracking of unmanned vehicles, and a wide array of counter-terrorism and disaster-preparation activities. Key projects include the development of bio-surveillance systems and a chemical and biological threats division that works closely with the Department of Defense and the US Army.
One HSARPA goal is to provide screening of people at airports, in Carrick's words "at the pace of light, from the moment they step off the curb, to when they get on the plane."
He added, "We want to make sure everybody is adequately screened, and you will never know you have been screened," but also admitted: "A lot of new technology needs to be developed for that."
See the full optics.org article for more.
Welcome -- in the Orioles' house
|Baseball fans were in their element at Monday evening's welcome reception in the
Baltimore Orioles stadium at Camden Yards, but even non-fans had a great time
thanks to perfect weather and plenty of hot dogs, pretzels, and beer.
See more photos in the event photo gallery.
Health monitoring with soft, wearable electronics
Big ideas, even bigger results: that's what John Rogers' talk on soft electronics for the human body offered Tuesday morning (9836-40). Rogers, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, gave a keynote presentation in the conference on Micro- and Nanotechnollgy Sensors, Systems, and Applications detailing work in developing electronics that have the physical characteristics of human skin, i.e., thin, light, stretchable, and water-proof.
Such electronics, akin to a temporary tattoo, last for weeks and are capable of monitoring the electrical activity of the brain, heart, muscles and nerve cells -- and that list is not complete.
Rather than being tied to a machine for multiple days or longer, individuals requiring health monitoring could wear a simple skin patch and continue their daily activities with essentially no interruption.
The technology would allow mothers of newborns in neonatal intensive care to physically hold and interact with their children, rather than separating them by a bundle of wires and hardware.
The soft chips could even alert people to the onset of sunburn, before they spend their next full day in pain.
There are 2,000-3,000 volunteers for clinical studies so far, and partnerships exist with L'Oreal Paris, MC10, and Reebok. While the technology may sound incredibly futuristic, Rogers' talk also suggests that it is incredibly realistic for the near future.
Pharmaceutical IP protection
John Jasper of Nature's Fingerprint presented Tuesday morning in Smart Biomedical and Physiological Sensor Technology on a new technique to ensure pharmaceutical IPP, protect against counterfeit drugs, and identify product provenance through synthesizing drugs of predetermined isotopic fingerprint, known as molecular isotopic engineering (MIE) (9863-21).
Stable-isotopic characterization uses isotope ratios in raw bio/pharmaceutical materials to determine the batch origin, and isotopic differences in the final product to fingerprint the exact manufacturing process.
Jasper initially proved the efficacy of his technique on 26 batches of the pain reliever Naproxen, in a blind test administered by the FDA. The characterization correctly determined that the samples came from six manufacturing sites around the world.
This technique is easy to implement within the bio/pharmaceutical industry, as the isotopes are naturally occurring in the drug materials. The general technique has already been used in court litigation, both to prove patent process infringement, and to defend a firm that had been wrongly accused of infringing on a patent process. Now, MIE offers authenticity, security, and novel IPP.
Lunching with experts
Students were afforded a valuable opportunity Tuesday afternoon to network over a casual lunch with experts willing to share their experience and wisdom acquired along their career paths in optics and photonics.
|SPIE President Robert Lieberman welcomed students to join or form
SPIE Student Chapters at their universities and and spoke of the many outreach
program chapters bring to their communities. Along with Lieberman, experts on hand
included SPIE President-Elect Glenn Boreman (below right).
Infrared technologies for defense
The role of infrared (IR) technologies in the German Federal Defense Forces was the topic of a three-conference joint keynote session on Tuesday featuring a keynote talk by K. H. Rippert of Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr.
Rippert focused on new developments regarding mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) detectors for imaging in the SWIR/MWIR and subsequent image processing, both of which were major topics in the conference on Infrared Technology and Applications (9819).
A long-term goal in the design of MCT IR detectors is to achieve higher spatial resolution by reducing pixel size, while maintaining a constant detector area. Rippert projected goals for new detector specifications out past the year 2020.
He also emphasized the general evolution of HOT-IR modules, designed to operate at higher temperatures and reduce the total required power budget. Good imaging quality has been obtained up to 180K, but challenges still remain in reducing the dark current and decreasing defective pixel occurrences at higher operation temperatures.
Active imaging with laser-gated viewing has been employed for threat discrimination. The technology is capable of being used in day or at night, and of suppressing foreground distractions. Results showed successful active imaging of a human obscured by foreground smoke.
Rippert emphasized the need for international collaborations and networking -- a theme echoed elsewhere throughout the week.
LIDAR for safe and autonomous planetary landings
On 22 June 2012, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a video called "Seven Minutes of Terror," detailing the Mars Curiosity's entry, descent, and landing, during which NASA had no contact with the rover.
Although Gale Crater was carefully selected for both its promise of scientific discovery and its adherence to safety constraints, even small, unforeseen surface features such as rocks could have damaged the rover upon landing.
On Tuesday, engineers and space scientists gathered at the Laser Radar Technology and Applications conference to present their latest research, which uses 3D flash LIDAR to enable autonomous lunar or planetary landings in hazardous terrains (9832, Session 3). Flash LIDAR is capable of accurately measuring the landing site topography in real-time, as well as the velocity of the payload as it approaches the targeted body.
In addition to relieving some of the stress for engineers during a payload's "seven minutes of terror," 3D flash LIDAR also opens up the possibility of landing a rover in sites that would have previously been overlooked for being too hazardous -- but which are nonetheless sites with high potential for scientific discoveries.
Scott Budge of Utah State University presented results using the LadarSIM software to simulate the proposed LIDAR system and investigate the design tradeoffs. The work also identified key factors affecting performance that should be integrated into LadarSIM. Vincent Roback of NASA Langley Research Center showed results from the ALHAT project on field-testing of 3D flash LIDAR with the Morpheus lander.
The technique successfully selected a safe landing site, identified landing hazards as small as 30 centimeters on a slanted surface, and navigated Morpheus to completion of a safe landing in hazardous terrain.
Anup Katake of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory concluded the session by discussing the potential of 3D flash Lidar for deep space operations, focusing on a future landing on Europa, the "ocean moon" of Jupiter. In addition to increasing a list of potential landing sites, 3D Flash LIDAR also opens up the possibility of landing near useful resources for future, or extended space missions.
Posters, refreshments, and connections
Poster sessions on Tuesdsay and Wednesday evenings drew crowds to browse
the posters, talk directly with the authors, and make some important connections.
See more photos in the event photo gallery.
The future of soft robotics
What do landing on Mars, wearable exoskeletons, and Big Hero 6 have in common? Soft robotics, observed the Wednesday afternoon session in the Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications conference (9836, Session 13).
Vitas SunSpiral of the NASA Ames Research Center gave the keynote presentation on dynamic tensegrity robots for future planetary exploration.
Simulations of the technology were reminiscent of springy tumbleweed blowing across the surface of Mars. Tensegrity robots are modeled after the flexible nature of the human body and promise safer landings and easier traversal of hazardous terrain.
Christopher Atkeson of Carnegie Mellon University then presented work on designing a soft robot for assisted living that can fall and get back up again, much like a human.
Atkeson described heavy metal robots as "brushing your teeth by duct taping your toothbrush to a bulldozer," and compared his soft robots to the Disney hero Baymax.
Conor Walsh of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences led the discussion to soft wearable robots in the form of exosuits, which will allow both healthy and disabled individuals to walk further and longer. The exosuits focused on augmenting the strength and power of the wearer's ankle and hip joints. Other topics were just as diverse, from foldable origami robots that adapt to different environments, to robot tongues capable of grasping objects over a wide range of sizes and geometries.
Fingerprinting food with spectroscopy
Tasting food at the grocery store before purchase may soon be possible -- at least photonically. On Thursday morning, Anna Mignani of the Istituto di Fisica Applicata "Nello Carrara" showed recent results of using spectroscopy to analyze food content (9852-34).
The technique, which Mignani dubs "photonic tasting," uses one shot of light for a multicomponent analysis of food quality and safety. It is quick, nondestructive to the food, and green (no chemicals or waste are involved).
Example applications include the monitoring of meat browning, milk quality, wine and beer fermentation, and the acidity and fatty-acid profile of olive oil. Photonic tasting can also separate fresh soybean oil from inferior oil, and discriminate between authentic and fraudulent alcohol.
Mignani concluded with the idea of clip-on spectrometers for mobile phones, which would allow shoppers to "taste-test" food at the grocery store (think Shazam for food).
VIP networking party celebrates the event's 40-year anniversary
See more photos in the event photo gallery.
'Live from SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing: Part 2'
Photonics Online, 22 April 2016
'DARPA evokes 'The Matrix' with brain implant project'
optics.org, 22 April 2016
'Live from SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing: Part 1'
Photonics Online, 21 April 2016
'Explosives detector could save lives'
optics.org, 20 April 2016
'FLIR's Boson takes a bow'
optics.org, 20 April 2016
'FLIR debuts thermal camera core aimed at courting consumer markets'
Cantech Letter, 20 April 2016
'A history of new direction'
Novus Light Technologies Today, 19 April 2016
'Space -- the sensing frontier'
optics.org, 19 April 2016
'AIM Photonics still seeking partners'
optics.org, 19 April 2016
'Optical chip tracks mutating 'flu virus'
optics.org, 18 April 2016
'DCS 2016 evolves, expands defense and sensing markets'
Photonics Spectra, 1 April 2016
SPIE press releases
'Optical sensing and imaging community readies for SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing'
14 January 2016
'Conferences on sensing for agriculture and robotic vision among expanded topics at SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing'
7 October 2015
'Expanded scope of SPIE meeting reflected in new Defense and Commercial Sensing name'
17 September 2015
All photos © SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, except where noted.
Contributors: Emily Berkson, Amy Nelson, Adam Resnick