Stopwatch offers heightened precision for imaging, others

Oct. 20, 2021
A newly developed stopwatch has the potential to improve and enhance a number of imaging technologies.

A newly developed stopwatch, touted one of the most precise to date, is allowing researchers to count single photons. This has the potential to improve and enhance a number of imaging technologies.

In their study, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) focused on a widely applied technology: time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC). The researchers say this works similar to stopwatch timers used for runners during the Olympics. First, a laser light illuminated samples ranging from individual proteins to a massive geologic formation. Next, they were able to record any photons that bounce back.

TCSPC gives you the total number of photons,” says Bowen Li, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering (ECEE) at CU Boulder who was the lead author of this study. “It also times when each photon hits your detector. It works like a stopwatch. Li notes that the stopwatch has advanced, thanks to an ultrafast optics tool called a “time lens. The researchers have demonstrated the ability to measure the arrival of photons “with a precision thats more than 100X better than existing tools.”

According to Shu-Wei Huang, an assistant professor at CU Boulder’s ECEE who participated in the new study, this quantum time lens could be easily adaptable. We can add this modification to almost any TCSPC system to improve its single-photon timing resolution.

The findings could potentially improve a wide range of imaging technologies, from sensors that can map entire forests and mountain ranges to more detailed devices, including those that diagnose human diseases such as Alzheimers and cancer. The researchers are hopeful, too, that the new stopwatch tool will allow humans to view objects with “all with a clarity that was previously impossible.” Reference: B. Li, J. Bartos, Y. Xie, and S.-W. Huang, Optica, 8, 8, 11091112 (2021).

About the Author

Justine Murphy | Multimedia Director, Laser & Military

Justine Murphy is the multimedia director for the Laser & Military Group at Endeavor Business Media. In addition to Laser Focus World, the group includes Military & Aerospace Electronics and Vision Systems Design. She is a multiple award-winning writer and editor with more 20 years of experience in newspaper publishing as well as public relations, marketing, and communications. For nearly 10 years, she has covered all facets of the optics and photonics industry as an editor, writer, web news anchor, and podcast host for an internationally reaching magazine publishing company. Her work has earned accolades from the New England Press Association as well as the SIIA/Jesse H. Neal Awards. She received a B.A. from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Motion Scan and Data Collection Methods for Electro-Optic System Testing

April 10, 2024
Learn how different scanning patterns and approaches can be used in measuring an electro-optic sensor performance, by reading our whitepaper here!

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!