Insect Eye Technology Allows for Smaller Devices with Greater Precision

The visual ability of insect’s eyes, most renowned in the compound eye types found in advanced arthropods, has always perked the human curiosity. Tiny and multi-faceted, hyper-thin insect eyes have a range of motion and resolution in an impossibly compact size. For years, scientists have struggled with ways to replicate some form of this ability, and a microscopic two millimeter mosaic camera developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany, may have come quite close. Tested to precision with spectroradiometers, the basic concept is a tiny flat camera whose lens actually contains 135 micro-instruments all recording visual data from alert unique angles.

Each one of the 135 facets takes in a very particularly piece of the surrounding environment, creating rotational optics that have been described as insect-like. The benefits of using such a technological system could be widespread: every place we use small cameras now (phones, medical instruments, cars, etc.) could be brought up to a stronger resolution and optical level.

As Andreas Brückner, a main project manager on the team that helped create this optical device technically put it: “With a camera thickness of only two millimeters, this technology, taken from nature’s model, will enable us to achieve a resolution of up to four megapixels,” he said recently. “This is clearly a higher resolution compared to cameras in industrial applications.”

Current smartphone cameras generally feature a lens size around five millimeters, and they have a lack of flexibility by basic design. Although the relative thickness may seem somewhat inconsequential, that difference is massive for designers who must tailor optical ability only to where it can be fit. By improving resolution and visual arrays, on a much thinner scale, the applications for camera technology in tiny products becomes boundless.

This flat camera, or FacetVision as it’s called, was shown off by the Fraunhofer Institute this past January at a trade show in Las Vegas. Its admirers were immediate. Further adapting this technology will require significantly attuned spectroradiometers as well highly sensitive photometric testing. This will be especially true the thinner developers can manage to make mosaic lenses; the limit has not really been tested yet. For more information on spectroradiometric instruments and products produced at the highest level by Gooch and Housego, email orlandosales@goochandhousego.com or contact Maureen Knowles at 407-422-3171 (Ext: 206).

With Winter Blackout Fears Looming, LEDs are a Solution

Winter storm season is in full swing; the ice and snow is looming with each passing front and arctic blast. From Europe to the Americas, power grids are pushed to the edges of their limits. The National Grid, Great Britain’s main electric conduit, reported that it would be in a “tight but manageable” situation over the coming months; the gap between demand and the ability to generate power potentially fell within 1.1%. Many factors contribute to the strain of a nation’s power grid, particularly in the winter, but one that has come up in England is the progression from coal to solar. While this is a positive trend, locally-generated solar has obvious issues with the cloudy winter skies and shorter days. A solution to this pressure seems clear to some: installation of more LEDs made possible only by the use of better photometric standards.

One study by an industry analyst showed that if home lighting were completely switched to LED throughout the U.K., peak energy demands would be reduced by 2.7 gigawatts. This is roughly equivalent to 2.7 billion watts, with one billion watts being a very common supply size for one large, modern city. Beyond just being good environmental policy, by switching over more fully to LED lighting, energy costs will lower along with demand. The stability and health of overall national power grids, a concern worldwide as infrastructure ages, would be boosted.

Many cities and states are switching over to LEDs within their municipalities, from streetlights to the glow of public parks. The same study cited above showed that a total swap (in England) for public LEDs could save a further 0.5 gigawatts. The applications beyond public utilities and in-home lighting are even more enormous. Generally, some of the biggest users of power are large, commercial public and private buildings; moving to LED lighting in looming office structures would be a positive for both a company’s bottom line as well as the nation’s power grid.

In order to properly establish the right variety of overall LED setups for a world increasingly in need of them, proper photometric standards will be vital. Obviously, not all lights serve the same purpose, and LEDs can be retrofitted in such a wide assortment of ways that saving power with equal luminance should become rather detailed. Our electric planet should be fine-tuned to the needs of the 21st century, making for a cheaper, brighter, and more environmentally friendly system. For more information on our experience and LED products, contact us today at 407-422-3171 or toll-free at 800-899-3171.

Four Emerging Uses of LEDs

New uses in the field of LEDs seem to be popping up not yearly, but weekly. With the rapid growth in our technical ability to create this source, and with our ever-expanding LED calibration techniques, the industries and places where LEDs can and will be making a difference are incredible. It’s no longer just a different light bulb in your reading lamp, but a different disease that may soon be wiped out. LEDs are so revolutionary and versatile in their abilities that many of the ways they can be used just aren’t common knowledge. Below are four emerging and fascinating ways in which LEDs may be put to use in the future.

Better Tasting Milk

As bottles sit under harsh fluorescent lighting in grocery stores, some people have always felt that the conditions sour the taste. That intuition is beginning to be backed up by science; a recent study by researchers at Virginia Tech showed that LED lights interact with riboflavin more favorably than fluorescent lighting. This leads to better tasting milk. Plus, more widespread use of LEDs in grocery stores is a net positive for energy rates.

Lowering Suicide Rates

This incredible aspect of LED lighting has been used in Japanese bullet train stations for almost a decade now, and there is data to back it up. Using soothing, blue LED lights, the Journal of Affective Disorder found an 83% decrease in suicide attempts in comparable stations. Exactly why this seems to work is the source of debate and theory. But the fact that it does, for whatever reason, is powerful.

Mosquito and Malaria Protection

This one is pretty simple; mosquitoes (and many prey insects) aren’t actually attracted to the light that lamps put off, but the heat. Enter LEDs. With basically zero heat, it is believed that if LED lights are used in massive levels in the developing world, mosquito attraction will drop in urban areas. And with it, the rates of malaria are in decline. There is still some attraction based on lighting in general, many researchers have pointed out, but this could be better handled by flexible LEDs positioned correctly.

Better Agriculture

As the world population grows and land for widespread agricultural use becomes more scarce, there is hope for low-energy, high-yield crop growth: vertical farming. Using LED lighting and highly detailed calibration, companies are using stacked farming techniques inside abandoned or unused urban structures to grow crops. Additionally, finely calibrated LEDs can actually result in more stress-free livestock. With vastly lower energy and water use, this food of the future is seen by some as a technique that could be a billion dollar industry quite soon.

These are but a few of the many ways LEDs are improving and evolving our world. Gooch & Housego has the world-class instruments and LED calibration techniques to move in step with every advance in LED technology. For more information on our experience and products, contact us today at 407-422-3171 or toll-free at 800-899-3171.

LEDs Expected to Lead Future of Sterilization

It’s amazing the things that light and energy can do. Often, advancements in civilization and technology are driven by processes from which most of us never give a second thought to. Sterilization, down to the microbacterial level, is one of those pieces of progress rarely discussed in history classes and looked at by futurists, but undoubtedly, our ability to clean medical tools and drinking water is a very powerful source behind humanity’s ability to prosper. In decades past, this highly-important but unsung process was completed with the use of mercury lamps, which produced proper waves of ultraviolet radiation in order to get the job done in most industrial settings. But as we enter a new technological era, one marked by our increasing ability in LED photometric standards, we may be embarking on a revolution in sterilization with uses that we can’t yet even imagine.

LEDs used for the disinfection of tools, lab equipment, medical gear, and even drinking water comprise an industry some expect to soon explode. One analyst group recently pegged the possible market share at $610 million by 2021. There are some hurdles for the LED sterilization marketplace to overcome before becoming a reality, however. For one, mercury lamps work. As a deeply ingrained sterilization technology, they have the current advantage of both familiarity and our experience in using them.

Mercury lamps also have significant drawbacks. They are expensive, bulky, and only useful to professionals on a large scale. Additionally, mercury lamps are inefficient and require special disposal. Because the lamps contain mercury, they can’t simply be put into a dumpster or trash compactor because they could potentially break and release mercury into the environment. Both the EPA and local governments set strict disposal guidelines.

But what if you could use the effective ultraviolet light sterilization process without the dangers of mercury involved? In steps LED technology. At present, the only thing holding LEDs back from fully taking over the industry itself is the technology. Mercury lamps are incredibly powerful emitters of short wave ultraviolet light, and at our current place in time, LEDs have yet to be able to scale up to their power. However, innovations in photometric standards and careful calibration techniques appear to be quickly shortening that gap in power: LED light is exceptionally versatile, and we are still uncovering techniques for deploying the light spectrum it gives off. Configured correctly, LED arrays will likely match the brute wattage of industrial lamps in the very near future, and at a fraction of the cost and size. One day, a rural family could purify water from a well with an LED configuration that fits into a device the size of a soda bottle. This is the dream and the hope for the future of LED light sterilization technology.

Alternative LEDs Purify Water & Sterilize Equipment

As innovative LED technologies continue to appear, new uses for said technologies emerge in the same step. Using funding from the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation, researchers at the Ohio State University recently unlocked a novel technique for growing LEDs on thin metal foils. Called unique deep-ultraviolet (DUV) LEDs, the applications of such expertise is still being uncovered. One potential way that DUV-LEDs could help the world is through sterilization of medical equipment and purification of drinking water, particularly in the developing world. Phenomenally sharp LED calibration would be key here, as would the ability to amplify the DUVs to a level beyond what researchers have done so far, but the building blocks are in place.

In modern times, UV lamps have been the primary light source used for detecting pathogens in water as well as on equipment that must be pristine. But these UV lamps, although generally effective in detection and destruction of pathogens, have significant drawbacks: they are large and cumbersome, not easily deployed in remote locations. The UV lamps also have a chance for mercury contamination, a fear that has grown in recent years. Because of this, DUV-LED lamps are looked at as a possible alternative with a big future.

The key will be modification to get DUV-LED technology up to the power that UV lamps, which are currently used to purify water, are at. Before the Ohio State University study, the only way known to make DUV-LEDs was extremely costly and used exceedingly pure single-crystal semiconductors. This was not a system that would have successful commercial applications at a widespread level. Researchers found, however, that by using molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), and placing them on tiny metal foils, they could create DUV-LEDs at a size of about 200 nanometers: almost comparable to the crystal semiconductor technique, but at a fraction of the price.

If the process can evolve to where the DUV-LEDs are comparable to UV lamps, the results could be revolutionary. Researchers involved in the project seemed confident they can get there in the future. Once DUV-LEDs can be brought up to power, their lightweight size and low cost could make deploying them around the world to purify water the leading way to provide clean drinking water. Advancements like these are at the forefront of technology and will require extensive consistent LED calibration. Gooch & Housego is a leader in the field with 40 years of experience and looks forward to the next advance.

Product Spotlight: OL 770-NVS Night Vision Display Test & Measurement System

Even in darkness, Gooch & Housego has learned how to help bring the light. With the OL 770-NVS Night Vision Display Test & Measurement System, light measurement instrumentation can be brought to a whole new level. This terrific piece of technology is backed by 40 years of experience in making instruments that define quality and precision. And when thinking of night vision, precision is an absolute key: goggles and other systems that rely on this technology must be well-suited to work with in-field systems. Display screens, particularly when concerning military operations, must work under strict guidelines when operating at night to avoid obvious potential dangers to personnel. In aeronautics, these guidelines are commonly referred to as MIL-STD-3009 requirements; the OL 770-NVS is designed specifically to test for operational ability under this banner, as well as a wide-range of other night-field software.

User-friendly and compact, the OL 770-NVS is equipment suited just as equally for the field depot as the lab. With its emphasis on aerospace light emission testing, the OL 770-NVS is a spectroradiometer that draws few comparisons in quality elsewhere on the market. Its uses are wide-ranging in aeronautics beyond MIL-STD-3009 (and the obsolete MIL-L-85762A) measurements: NVIS compatibility testing, SAE AS8037 and AS25050 requirement levels, and a host of possible applications with regards to exterior plane lighting.

As an affordable device in the 380-1100 nm wavelength range, this portable unit (weighing a mere 5.5 pounds, even with all its applications) is easily plugged into Windows 7. User-friendly and intuitive design is meant to make it easy on testers with experience ranging from limited to professional: the ability to see pass/fail status for all possible testing applications can be viewed simultaneously. The unit is also compatible with Windows XP/2000 OS.

When dealing with night vision technologies, particularly in regards to aircraft, confidence in instrumentation and testing results is at a premium. Small errors make big problems. When choosing companies to purchase sophisticated instrumentation from, selecting experience and quality is always the correct decision. Gooch & Housego is an innovator and industry leader with a long track record in light measurement instrumentation. For more information on purchasing, or additional details on our systems at large, e-mail orlandosales@goochandhousego.com, or contact Maureen Knowles at 407-422-3171 (Ext: 206).

Could LEDs Help Fight Zika and Malaria?

Everyone knows the old parable about the moth that flew too close to the flame. But was the moth attracted to the flame because of the light that it gives off, or the heat it gives off? Oddly, the answer to that question might be crucial to the future of mosquito management in a world where illnesses like malaria have always been an issue, and the emergent Zika virus has heightened concerns only further. Remarkably, the riddle may indeed have been solved. Recent research by scientists at the University of Bristol show that it is heat that is the primary reason insects are attracted to light. Because of this finding, some academics are pointing to LED lighting as a key tool in fighting mosquitoes in the developing world. It is reasoned that careful photometric standards in LEDs could lead to a drastic reduction in mosquitoes around homes and structures.

Quite simply, LEDs put off significantly less heat than their counterparts such as filament and fluorescent. In fact, carefully calibrated LED lights can functionally give off no heat at all. In studies done by the University of Bristol, LEDs proved to be the least attractive to insects (and mosquitoes) for this very reason. Filament bulbs attract biting insects because the heat they give off mimics the heat found in humans and animals: food sources for mosquitoes. By cutting this out of the equation, we should theoretically be able to reduce mosquitoes gathering near people.

The ability for LEDs to lower transmission rates on illnesses such as Zika and malaria is completely unknown: we just don’t have the necessary research and widespread testing that can show this. However, the science is in great agreement on the general principle of light/heat attraction in regards to insects. In addition to the heat factor, insects appeared to respond less favorably to the short wavelengths put off by LED lighting. This part of the research hints at a possibility to design future LEDs to be calibrated with wavelengths known to dissuade mosquitoes.

To do so, and perhaps to help in the ongoing fight with mosquito-borne illnesses across the world, strict photometric standards in LEDs will need to be adhered to. Only with sophisticated light measurement technology and calibration techniques is this possible. These are tools at the heart of Gooch & Housego; we have the knowledge and we have the experience. For more information on our technology, contact us at 1-(800) 899-3171.

Together, Light and Sound Relieve Pain

The ways in which LED lighting can help the brain are only beginning to be explored with great depth. From PTSD treatment to lighting that appears to lower suicide rates and far beyond: LEDs as a form of medicinal treatment are an evolving concept. The key has been finding the proper LED calibration in conjunction with brain function. Doing this requires consistently refined technology that can very precisely manage LED wavelengths. Researchers at the University of Manchester believe they are on the path to yet another human malady that could be helped by LED lighting: pain.

Scientists in the study (run by the Human Pain Research Group), created special goggles which flashed specific frequencies at patient’s eyes. This was calibrated with audio, and the results were indeed illuminating. The team was able to show conclusively that LED output applied at certain frequencies reduced the trial patient’s pain response, as well as anxiety levels. They targeted alpha waves near the front of the brain, an area linked with pain reflexes, and the results were published in the European Journal of Pain.

Additional studies are needed, and more thorough clinical trials will also be important, but the group seemed rather hopeful based on the results of these early tests. When speculating on the possible medical uses for such LED technology, Chris Brown, a member of the Manchester research group, was forthright: “For instance, this might be particularly useful for patients having difficulty sleeping because of recurrent pain at night.”

The key for the team had been the specific levels to which the LED lights were set. Other teams have tried similar technology (the U.S. military is, for instance, looking into headsets lined with LED lighting that may help with PTSD, as mentioned earlier), but the Manchester researchers specifically targeted brain activity in the 7.5 to 12.5-hertz spectrum. The zone of brain electricity that showed the most response was between 9 and 12 hertz, with notations by the team that 10 hertz seemed particularly useful. Why this is the case, isn’t exactly known; this shows both the primitive nature of our understanding of LED light interaction with brainwaves and the immense promise that enlightenment in this arena could provide in pain treatment.

One thing that is known is that any further progress in this scientific and medical realm will rely on the ability to be extremely precise with LED calibration. In the Manchester study, the pulses sent at the very particular electrical levels of the brain we’re vital in getting positive results. Only well-calibrated LED systems, developed by lighting experts, will have the ability to tap into this power with precision.

Photonics Helps NASA Reach Home

NASA, has some pretty complex plans for the future of humans in space. From deep space probes to interplanetary expeditions and the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the agency’s cutting edge technology is constantly pushing the boundary of what we can accomplish in the final frontier. But all the technology, and all the missions and dreams, fall into trouble without the help of one key element: inter-space communication. It may come as a surprise, but currently, the most common form of communication used by NASA, for both deep-space and near space communication (such as satellites and the aforementioned ISS), is still radio-frequency (RF). This may not be true much longer. For as evolved as the RF systems are from their original conception, photonics is the future, one that NASA has an eye towards.  Photonics, from laser-based communication to other systems, is only as good as the photometric standards that support it.

One recent such mission to study laser-based communication systems was launched by NASA in 2013. Deemed the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD), this was basically a test-mission to establish lasers ability in deep space, but to date, it is one of NASA’s only major recent forays into laser communication technology. The need, however, is growing, as communication with distant space modules (and even people) is vastly more complicated as the distances increase: something laser technology can theoretically help with. Data transmitted from spacecraft to Earth needs to be as rapid as possible which is widely acknowledged but flummoxed over in the space community.

As Dave Israel, Exploration and Space Communications architect at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, put it recently: “We have been using RF since the beginning, 50 to 60 years, so we’ve learned a lot about how it works in different weather conditions and all the little things to allow us to make the most out of the technology, but we don’t have that experience with laser comm.” To help with this issue, two new missions are currently in the works. One is by the team at Goddard and is called the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). It’s scheduled to launch in 2019. Another is by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The JPL’s mission is called the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC), which focuses specifically on laser-based data transfer rates and the power these transfers can consume.

NASA has always been at the forefront of space technology and communication systems. But as our ambitions have grown in the 21st century for interstellar travel, the expertise will have to grow with it. This requires stringent photometric standards on a level that Gooch & Housego products were designed to deliver. For more information, contact the leader in photonics at (800) 899-3171.

Product Spotlight: OL 770-InGaAs NIR Spectroradiometer

Known for quality and technical ability, a well-designed spectroradiometer can go a long way towards complementing your optic toolkit.  Created for spectral irradiance and spectral radiance, spectroradiometers are essential in a variety of applications ranging from UV, lamp and displays  to IRED source measurements. With that in mind, we are proud to present the OL 770-InGaAs NIR spectroradiometer.

The most recent addition to the OL 770 line, this version covers the 850 – 1700 nm spectrum in addition to the ranges covered by previous OL 770. The product features a modular design that allows for effortless integration into existing setups that can allow for wider spectrum analysis even still. This is a seamless precision unit that strives to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. Our goal in the overall design was for speed in processing without sacrificing performance. The OL 770-InGaAs NIR delivers! Everything is housed in a rugged portable package with Windows-based software, allowing you to operate the system with via your PC with complete ease.

OL 770-InGaAs NIR is the result of  an ongoing commitment to create tools precise enough for R&D purposes (with a wavelength accuracy at ±1.0 and an optical focal length of 140 mm), but also lightweight and efficient enough for quick applications such as QC checks. USB and RS-232 interfaces allow for quick and easy integration to laptops without the need for a plug-in card.

The OL 770-InGaAs NIR is a revolutionary product that is key for applications such as quality control ofsolar simulators. Quality results from instrumentation require that you test with devices of equal excellence, and in this sense, you can do no better than with Gooch & Housego products. We strive for the pinnacle of optic testing and light instrumentation in every area of production. For more information on purchasing a spectroradiometer or other instrumentation, contact orlandosales@goochandhousego.com or call Maureen Knowles at (407) 422-3171 (Ext: 206).