Optics Industry Report

Sept. 1, 2005
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff recently reiterated his plans to put a higher priority on bioterrorism, mass-transit safety, and border security.

Bioterrorism emphasizes optical technologies

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff recently reiterated his plans to put a higher priority on bioterrorism, mass-transit safety, and border security. The overhaul was applauded by Universal Detection Technology (UDT; Beverly Hills, CA), which is cooperating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA;Washington, D.C.) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL; Pasadena, CA) to develop optical detection technologies that combat bioterrorism. Using a combination of JPL’s bacterial-spore detection technology and UDT’s aerosol capture device, an anthrax detection system was developed that breathes slightly faster than a human. A microwave breaks the spores, which then release a chemical called dipicolinic acid that interacts with a sensor chemical that triggers an intense green luminescence under UV radiation, serving as an early warning system.

Another example of optical research for bioterrorism detection is the laser-based gas sensor platform for chemical analysis being developed at Rice University (Houston, TX). “A new spectroscopic technique that we are developing, quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy, is immune to acoustic noise and doesn’t require expensive wavelength-selective detectors,” says Frank Tittel, professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. “We are midway through a three-year contract with NASA/JPL on the detection of 10 different gases.”

Northrop Grumman tests JWST control system

The Northrop Grumman (Redondo Beach, CA) team developing the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reports successful testing of the software that will be used to bring the space observatory’s 18 mirror segments into alignment following launch. The test is a key step in verifying that the mirrors will produce clear images of the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe following the rough vibrations and disturbances during launch.

The Wavefront Sensing and Control (WFS&C) System is designed to give the JWST the ability to reduce structural and optical-deployment uncertainties through the use of electronics and motors. The software processes images from a science camera to measure optical aberrations, then computes mirror motor commands to correct the aberrations, eliminating the massive and rigid structures required to maintain optical precision by traditional space telescopes.

Intel and Corning partner

Intel (Santa Clara, CA) and Corning (Corning, NY) are partnering to develop ultra-low-thermal-expansion (ULE) glass photomask substrates required for extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. These substrates are needed to develop low-defect EUV photomasks to enable 32-nm node high-volume production using EUV lithography.

Today’s lithography tools use a 193‑nm wavelength of light to “print” transistors as small as 50 nm. EUV lithography technology will use light with a 13.5-nm wavelength, allowing chipmakers to create smaller transistors.

Agilent chooses nanotechnology partner

Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, CA) and Asylum Research (Santa Barbara, CA) signed a joint development agreement to collaborate on technologies and applications in the area of nanotechnology measurements. Agilent is also making an equity investment in the Santa Barbara-based company.

Asylum Research develops atomic-force microscopes (AFMs), the principal measurement tools used by researchers working in nanotechnology. “The joint development agreement underscores our commitment to new technologies and markets,” said Bob Burns, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Nanotechnology Measurement Division. “The AFM market is a significant portion of the $1 billion market for nanotechnology measurement tools, with the segment growing at close to 20% a year.”

Gail Overton

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at [email protected].

Also in the news . . .

The Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) at Rice University (Houston, TX) was awarded a five-year, $3 million grant for a program to prepare students in the design and fabrication of nanoscale optical components and their applications in emerging technologies. . . . Impex HighTech (Rheine, Germany), maker of laser and optical components, announced its purchase of Princeton Scientific (PSC; Princeton, NJ), supplier of material science and engineering-related products and particle-beam line technology to laboratory scientists, engineers and industrial manufacturers. . . . Apollo Optical Systems (Rochester, NY) expanded its single-point diamond-turning and optical-engineering services with the introduction of polymer injection molding for custom optical components and assemblies. . . . CVI Technical Optics (Albuquerque, NM) has been recommended to ISO 9001:2000 for the design, manufacture, and sales of precision optics, coatings, and assemblies. . . . The Optical Society of America (OSA; Washington, D.C.) introduced OpticsforKids.org, an interactive Web resource designed to teach kids about optics, the science of light.

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