OPN June 2012

Cover Story

The Optics of Recycling

Andreas Nordbryhn

Optical technologies, including laser scanning and spectroscopy, can be used to identify and sort recyclable materials in a way that makes efficient use of available natural resources and helps to reduce fossil fuel consumption—all in a... more>>

Features

Photography in the American Civil War

Patricia Daukantas

One hundred and fifty years ago, a rapidly evolving imaging technology came to a divided nation where citizens were fighting each other on bloody battlefields. The rest, as they say, is history. more>>


Freeform Optical Surfaces: A Revolution in Imaging Optical Design

Kevin P. Thompson and Jannick P. Rolland

A revolutionary optical surface is the result of developments in the theory of aberrations, techniques in optical system optimization, computation speed, precision fabrication of surfaces without symmetry, and extensions to the range of the surface slopes allowed in optical testing. more>>


Scatterings

Laser Fabricates Silver Dots in a Polymer Matrix

Patricia Daukantas

A team at Harvard University (U.S.A.) has developed a fabrication process that enables the creation of nanostructures patterned in 3-D. more>>


Better Super-Capacitors from Laser-Scribed Graphene

Yvonne Carts-Powell

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (U.S.A.) used a common computer optical drive to convert thin layers of graphite oxide into graphene, which was then incorporated into flexible electrochemical capacitors. more>>


Mode-Locking Method Shows Stable Output, Potential for Tiny Lasers

Yvonne Carts-Powell

An international team of researchers used a microcavity ring resonator as both a laser filter and mode-locker. more>>


Self-Assembling Microlenses Inspired by Starfish

Patricia Daukantas

Scientists in Germany recently made good-quality calcium carbonate microlenses by precipitating them out of solution. They got inspiration a reef-dwelling brittlestar whose body is covered with tiny calcium carbonate lenses that act as the lenses for compound eyes. more>>

Pulses

Education

How to Build a Thriving Undergrad Physics Program

Ertan Salik and Alex Small

Undergraduate physics programs introduce students to the wonderful world of optics. This case study from California provides insight into how to strengthen your department and improve recruitment strategies. more>>


Global Optics

Quantum and Nano-optics in Spain: A Success Story

Marko Spasenovic

Quantum and nano-optics institutes such as ICFO and CIC nanoGune are helping to bridge the gap between theoretical research and industry in Spain. Recent increases in funding and research will no doubt attract thought leaders worldwide and accelerate development of photonics-based technologies. more>>


Light Touch

Transparent Metals: Fact and Fiction

Stephen R. Wilk

Transparent metals are a common theme in many science fiction plots—an alien compound that is incredibly strong, yet see-through. However, this material is not as futuristic as it sounds. Methods for producing transparent metals have been around for centuries and are now being used for high-performance military applications. more>>


The History of OSA

Presidential Profile: Frederick Dowswell Smith

John N. Howard

F. Dow Smith, an American physicist by way of Canada, made a name for himself as one of the lead developers of spy satellite technology during the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. more>>

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