WASHINGTON, Oct. 1—The latest technology in optics and lasers will be on display at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO), which takes place Oct. 11-15 at the Fairmont San Jose Hotel and the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, Calif.
Information on free registration for reporters is contained at the end of this release. Research highlights of the meeting include:
SPECIAL SYMPOSIUM: THE FUTURE OF 3-D TELEVISION
With 3-D movies helping to drive record box office revenues this spring and companies like Sony and Panasonic rolling out the first 3-D-enabled televisions, a timely special symposium titled "The Future of 3-D Display: The Marketplace and the Technology" will feature presentations on current and future technologies driving the 3-D revolution. Some highlights:
The symposium is being organized by Hong Hua of the University of Arizona. For more information on the special symposium, see: http://www.frontiersinoptics.com/ConferenceProgram/SpecialSymposium/default.aspx#Futureof3DDisplay.
LASER FUSION AND EXAWATT LASERS
In the recent past, producing lasers with terawatt (a trillion watts) beams was impressive. Now petawatt (a thousand trillion watts, or 10^15 watts) lasers are the forefront of laser research. Some labs are even undertaking work toward achieving exawatt (10^18 watts) levels. Todd Ditmire at the University of Texas currently produces petawatt power through a process of chirping, in which a short light pulse (150 femtoseconds in duration) is stretched out in time. This longer pulse is amplified to higher energy and then re-compressed to its shorter duration, thus providing a modest amount of energy, 190 joules in a very tiny bundle.
Ditmire claims that his petawatt device has the highest power of any laser system now operating, even the one at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, owing to the very short pulse-compression he and his colleagues use.
The main research use for the Texas Petawatt Laser, as it is called, has been to produce thermonuclear fusion; the laser light strikes a target where fusion of light nuclei occurs, releasing neutrons into the vicinity. These neutrons can themselves be used for doing research. The first results of this fusion experiment will be presented at this meeting. Other applications include the study of hot dense plasmas at pressures billions of time higher than atmospheric pressure and the creation of conditions for accelerating electrons to energies of billions of electron-volts.
Another figure of merit for a laser, in addition to power, is power density. The Texas device is capable of producing power densities exceeding 10^21 watts per square centimeter. At this level many novel interactions might become possible.
To get to exawatt powers, Ditmire hopes to combine largely-existing laser technology and his already-tested 100-femtosecond pulses with new laser glass materials that would allow amplification up to energies of 100 kilo-joules. Ditmire's current energy level, approximately 100 joules, is typical of laser labs at or near the petawatt level, such as those in Oxford, England, Osaka, Japan and Rochester, N.Y. With support from the government and the research community, building an exawatt laser might take 10 years to achieve, Ditmire estimates. (Paper FTuK2, "The Texas Petawatt Laser and Technology Development toward an Exawatt Laser" is at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13).
1,001 CAMERAS SEE IN GIGAPIXELS
As manufacturers of consumer digital cameras compete in increments, adding one or two megapixels to their latest models, David Brady of Duke University is thinking much bigger. Working with the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, he is designing and building a camera that could achieve resolutions 1,000 or even 1 million times greater than the technology on the market today.
The goal of reaching giga- or terapixels, says Brady, is currently being held back by the difficulty of designing a spherical lens that will not distort small areas of a scene. His idea is not only to modify the shape of the camera lens -- making it aspherical -- but to link together thousands of microcameras behind the main lens. Each of these cameras would have its own lens optimized for a small portion of the field of view.
"Now, when you use a camera, you're looking through a narrow soda straw," says Brady. "These new cameras will be able to capture the full view of human vision."
The final result of the three-year project should be a device about the size of a breadbox, though Brady hopes to scale the technology down to create a single-lens reflex camera with a resolution of 50 gigapixels. (Paper CWB2, "Multiscale Optical Systems" is at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14).
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOW GOLD
In full sunlight at mid-day, gold objects are brilliant and richly colored. Put those same objects in a dark interior room with only fluorescent lamps, however, and they will look pale and slightly greenish -- a problem arising from the inability of fluorescent lamps to render the optimal color temperature to reveal gold in its warmest light. That's why museums and jewelry stores typically illuminate the gold objects in display cases with small incandescent bulbs, the only commercially-available lights that can emit soft yellow tones and warm color temperatures and render a true gold appearance.
Incandescent bulbs are a poor choice for other reasons, however. They are notoriously hot and can alter the temperature and humidity in display cases, potentially damaging priceless museum pieces. Besides that, the European Union is phasing out the sale of incandescent bulbs starting this fall (a similar phase-out will go into effect in the United States beginning in 2012).
Now Paul Michael Petersen and his colleagues at the Technical University of Denmark have designed an alternative, energy efficient and non-heating light source for gold objects. After they were contacted by curators at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, which houses the Royal Danish Collection, Petersen and his colleagues created a novel LED designed specifically to illuminate gold. Combining commercially-available red, green, and blue LEDs with holographic diffusion, the new light can achieve a temperature and color rendering akin to incandescent bulbs -- with 70 percent energy savings and without emitting excess heat. They have been tested in a few display cases, says Petersen, and the lights will soon be installed throughout the museum. (Paper JWC3, "A New LED Light Source for Display Cases" is at 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14).
PREHISTORIC BEAR DIET REVEALED BY LASER ARCHAEOLOGY
Twenty-six thousand years ago, a brown bear living in what is now the Czech Republic died, leaving behind a tooth that has since become a fossil. Now a team of engineers has developed a way to figure out not only what it ate but its migration patterns using a laser instrument that could be modified to take out into the field.
The technique, called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), is able to identify the chemical composition of a material -- such a tooth -- by penetrating miniscule samples with high-energy pulses of laser light. This laser turns each sample into plasma many times hotter than the surface of the sun. In this experiment, the light released as the plasma cooled revealed the composition of each part of the tooth.
By checking the ratio of different elements in the root of the tooth, the team determined that the bear ate mostly plants during the hotter parts of the year. The changes in these ratios over time revealed the bear's migration patterns and a gradual shift in its living territory in one direction.
It's a simple and fast technique, say the authors, with an unusually high resolution and the ability to scan a wide area of a sample. "The device could be modified to be taken out into the field," says Josef Kaiser of the Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic.
Next, the team hopes to use LIBS to solve the mystery of a cave full of dead snakes that died more than 1 million years ago -- possibly from a disease -- by analyzing the vertebrae left behind. (Paper JWC18, "Multielemental Mapping of Archaeological Samples by Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)" is at 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12).
Conventional imaging systems incorporate a light source for illuminating an object and a separate sensing device for recording the light rays scattered by the object. By using lenses and software, the recorded information can be turned into a proper image. Human vision is an ordinary process: the use of two eyes (and a powerful brain that processes visual information) provides human observers with a sense of depth perception. But how does a video camera attached to a robot "see" in three dimensions? Carnegie Mellon scientist Srinivasa Narasimhan believes that efficiently producing 3-D images for computer vision can best be addressed by thinking of a light source and sensor device as being equivalent. That is, they are dual parts of a single vision process.
For example, when a light illuminates a complicated subject, such as a fully-branching tree, many views of the object must be captured. This requires the camera to be moved, making it hard to find corresponding locations in different views. In Narasimhan's approach, the camera and light constitute a single system. Since the light source can be moved without changing the corresponding points in the images, complex reconstruction problems can be solved easily for the first time. Another approach is to use a pixilated mask interposed at the light or camera to selectively remove certain light rays from the imaging process. With proper software, the resulting series of images can more efficiently render detailed 3-D vision information, especially when the object itself is moving.
Narasimhan calls this process alternatively illumination-aware imaging or imaging-aware illumination. He predicts it will be valuable for producing better robotic vision and rendering 3-D shapes in computer graphics. (Paper CtuD5, "Illuminating Cameras" is at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13).
ABOUT THE MEETING
FiO 2009 is OSA's 93rd Annual Meeting and is being held together with Laser Science XXV, the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Laser Science (DLS). The two meetings unite the OSA and APS communities for five days of quality, cutting-edge presentations, fascinating invited speakers and a variety of special events spanning a broad range of topics in physics, biology and chemistry. The FiO 2009 conference will also offer a number of Short Courses designed to increase participants' knowledge of a specific subject while offering the experience of insightful teachers. An exhibit floor featuring leading optics companies will further enhance the meeting.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A Press Room for credentialed press and analysts will be located in the Fairmont Hotel, Sunday through Thursday. Those interested in obtaining a press badge for FiO should contact OSA's Angela Stark, email@example.com or 202.416.1443.
Uniting more than 106,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit: www.osa.org.
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