May 2005

Wavelength-Agile Lasers

Scott Sanders

Lasers that can be rapidly scanned through a broad range of wavelengths are under development, primarily for optical sensing. This article describes the characteristics of these lasers, the history of their development and their potential for future applications.

Report from OFC/NFOEC 2005: Turning Cutting-Edge Optical Technology into Practical Applications

The 2005 Optical Fiber Communications Conference (OFC), held March 6-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center, showcased the changing shape of the global fiber-optic industry. Fiber to the home took the spotlight, with talks on the experience of Japanese companies in deploying systems and new technology for cutting costs and improving performance.

A 21st Century Challenge to Spectroscopists

The threat of bioterrorism has driven demand for techniques that can detect organisms used in an attack quickly and without the need for prior culture. However, no current technology can rapidly distinguish characteristic microbial components released during a terrorist incident from those in other organisms. Innovations in spectroscopy could provide the necessary tools.

Ultraslow Light & Bose-Einstein Condensates: Two-way Control with Coherent Light & Atom Fields

Ultraslow light has been used to form dramatic new nonlinear excitations in superfluid Bose-Einstein condensates of laser-cooled alkali atoms, and to create pulsed coherent matter waves. We describe these phenomena and a novel single-atom detector for use in studying the waves’ coherence properties.

3D Imaging with Geiger-mode Avalanche Photodiodes

Laser radar (ladar) systems enable many points in a scene to be resolved to produce 3D imagery. Researchers at M.I.T.’s Lincoln Laboratory have built such ladar imaging systems using arrays of silicon Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes—which are capable of detecting as little as a single photon of light —and high-speed, all-digital CMOS timing circuitry in each pixel.

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