August/September 2015


Extraterrestrial laser links

On 14 July, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft reached Pluto after a decade-long journey through the solar system. The spacecraft began transmitting images and spectroscopic data of the dwarf planet – which will allow scientists to investigate Pluto’s global geology and chemical and atmospheric makeup – at 2am GMT on the 14 July, but the total amount of data collected by New Horizons’ probes could take up to 16 months to transmit back to Earth over a distance close to five billion kilometres.


One for the road

A series of maps created using lidar were released for highly automated vehicle testing on 20 July. A day later a consortium of German car makers including BMW, Daimler, and Audi agreed to pay €2.5 billion for the company behind the maps, Here, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Driven by design

Organic LEDs (OLEDs) have various design attributes which make them highly desirable as an alternative to existing lighting technologies – the technology can be made extremely thin, flexible, transparent, and can provide homogeneous illumination over large areas.

The last few years have seen OLEDs enter the display market, a notable example being Apple’s Smartwatch launched earlier this year. The technology can also be seen in most of Samsung’s smart phones, as well as in its OLED TV – the first ever television with a curved screen.


Design for light

In July, IBM, in an alliance with Global Foundries and Samsung, announced the first 7nm node test chips. At this scale, according to IBM, more than 20 billion transistors could be placed on a silicon chip the size of a fingernail. This next scale of integrated circuit patterning will boost computing power in the silicon chips used in everything from mobile phones to cars.


Asian shift in policies to impact photonics

Why did we analyse this subject? Well, German photonics manufacturers have adopted a strong international position in core segments of photonics like production technologies, medical technology, and machine vision. Yet Asia has also been attracting attention for a while now as a major potential market for photonics. The region is home to many world market leaders, specifically in the IT-based fields of photonics such as displays or optical communication.