August/September 2009

FEATURE

Photovoltaics shines bright

In the past, photovoltaics – and indeed many of the other green technologies – have suffered from the perception of being too expensive to implement, and therefore with far too long a return on investment. But now, as we become more experienced at building solar panels and the technologies surrounding this, the costs are coming down – to a point where they now overlap with the costs of the more traditional methods of generating electricity.

FEATURE

Sky-high laser processing

A modern aircraft is a magnificent piece of work, and perhaps the most technically impressive parts are its engines. In commercial aviation, a continuing drive for fuel economy, along with pressure from conscientious environmentalists, has resulted in a move towards more efficient engines. Noise pollution generated by the expanding airports has also gained attention, and new engines are designed to be as quiet as possible. Understandably, safety is the primary design constraint that engineers work towards, and the highest standards must be met at every stage.

FEATURE

Making waves

Optical design in photonics is dependent on many variables, but often the overarching application will determine, to a large extent, the optical setup. An extensive array of optical components is available, varying in their mode of operation and resulting effect. Diffractive optical elements (DOEs) are one such class of optical components and include diffraction gratings and beam splitters, as well as crystalline structures, all of which operate through diffraction.

FEATURE

Towers of power

Laser diodes have come a long way. Since their relatively recent introduction, high-power laser diodes in particular have been applied to a wide range of applications, be it pumping solid state lasers, pumping fibre lasers, or used directly in materials processing. Much development has gone into increasing the power and beam quality of laser diodes over these years, but how much further can the technology be pushed, and is there even a need to push it?

FEATURE

A focus on customers

The quality of optics in any photonics project is as fundamental to that project’s success as any other element. Inferior or poorly aligned optical components can jeopardise the operation of a system. The team at Trioptics know this very well, and the company has built its success on providing optical test equipment across a range of fields, including photonics. Its range of products provides manufacturers and integrators with the tools they need to ensure the highest possible quality in their lenses and optical systems.