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Internal Reflections

Designing Optical Systems for Use With Smartphone Cameras

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Posted by Kristin
When starting a new project, a good lens designer will look at prior designs to see if there are known solutions or similar solutions to the problem. Although designing for the modern smartphone camera is relatively new, the optical designs developed for the eye provide many good starting points. The lens designer can transform an eyepiece into a macro lens attachment or an afocal beam-expander into a telephoto lens. However, the eye is much more forgiving of poor performance than the smartphone camera (and consumer) is.
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A Custom Solution for Raman Microscopy

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Posted by blogadmin under Bio-Medical Applications
Raman spectroscopy has a wide variety of applications. Areas and examples of use include: the pharmaceutical industry to measure the distribution of ingredients in pills, forensics to identify unknown materials, the food industry for microbe detection and identification of contaminants, art history and conservation for identifying original materials using non-destructive testing, and biomedical diagnostics for real-time, non-invasive detection of cancerous tissue.
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Photonics West, BiOS, and some novel bio-optics

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Posted by Kristin
ASE Optics will once again be at Photonics West in early February, the premier photonics conference of the U.S. that is held annually. New for this year, ASE Optics will also be one of 235 exhibitors at the Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) which kicks off Photonics West on February 2, 2013. Our optical engineers have expertise in the rapidly growing field of biomedical optics. As a company we have worked on a variety of projects in areas such as retinal imaging, ophthalmic diagnostics, fluorescence spectroscopy for veterinary diagnostics, veterinary ophthalmic devices, and Raman spectroscopy for bio-medical applications.
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ASE Welcomes Keith Thorp

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
The ASE Optics engineering team is pleased to welcome Keith Thorp, our new Production Coordinator/Technical Lead. Keith joins us from...
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A Free Pair of “Eyes”

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Posted by blogadmin under Astronomy
NASA recently received a windfall from the government in the form of not one, but two Hubble-class telescopes.  A recent Time article (NASA Gets Two New Hubble Telescopes—for Free) describes the exciting news.  Apparently the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) had the 8.4 m telescopes stored right here in Rochester, NY and has decided to give them to NASA.  Now, all NASA has to do is decide how to use them.
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Bending (and not Breaking!) out of Flatland

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Posted by blogadmin under News & Announcements
Flexible is not usually a word that comes to mind when one thinks of glass. And when thinking of a display, it often invokes images of large-screen TVs, computer monitors, or smart phones- all with flat glass surfaces. That may all change based on a recent announcement from Corning. Already well-known for its super-tough GorillaTM Glass, Corning has launched a new type of glass with a name that conjures up a more airy, ethereal mental image: WillowTM Glass. (Corning Launches Ultra-Slim Flexible Glass) It is produced using a fusion process like Corning’s other thin glasses (Eagle XG®Slim and LotusTM Glass), but Willow Glass is even thinner.
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Designing Aspheres: Webcast Audience Q&A

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Posted by admin under Astronomy
Christopher Cotton, ASE Optics GM and optical engineer, answers audience questions in the Laser Focus World webcast, Design for Aspheres Audience Questions & Answers Q: How do you tolerance aspheres to manufacturers? A: The standard way to do this is similar to tolerancing any other optical surface. Define departure you’ll allow from surface. Determine fringes of power and irregularity. As we get more into machines making optics and smaller tool polishing you have to define surface slope to avoid ripples/features you’re not expecting in the system. Aspheric defines the difference between the surface you’re getting and the ideal surface. Allowing change in power on asphere is similar to finding it for a spherical element. In addition to regularity, define slope tolerance.
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Designing With Aspheres: A Laser Focus World Webcast

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Posted by admin under Science in Action,How-To
ASE Optics GM Christopher Cotton presents Designing with Aspheres, a Laser Focus World webcast sponsored by ASE Optics, Rochester Precision Optics, PLS Launch Solutions, Optimax, and RRPC. Hello, I'm Christopher Cotton, GM of ASE Optics, presenting today on designing aspheres to improve system performance. We’re going to look at: 3 locations in a system where aspheres are useful 3 ways to specify an asphere: forbes polynomial, vertice polynomial vs traditional  Audience Q&A about designing aspheric lenses
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Vibration control for aerial applications

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
ASE Optics' GM Christopher Cotton is featured in a video on Laser Focus World discussing techniques to improve performance of lens systems for aerial applications. Vibration control is the primary detractor to the image quality that these systems demand. In aerial applications, cameras are focused weeks in advance in a warm lab, and rely on the hardware to maintain focus and prevent lens motion. On the ground, in commercial applications and for the amateur photographer, this is easy. People don't vibrate, fingers make for a soft mount and refocusing is usually possible
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Hopkins number helps avoid costly surprises

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Posted by admin under Science in Action
An important step in the design of an optical system is to consider how difficult it will be to manufacture. An optical design can look great on paper, but a tolerance analysis may reveal that it will be very costly to build. Sensitivities are often overlooked until a problem is found after the lens system is assembled and the performance does not meet expectations. A simple metric for estimating the difficulty of putting together a lens is very useful. One such metric was discussed at a recent ASE Optics lunch meeting by one of my colleagues, Peter Emmel. Peter described what he always thought of as the “Hopkins number” from his days of working at Tropel. He referred to it as such because ...
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A revolution in digital photography on the horizon?

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Posted by admin under Science in Action
The work of Ren Ng on digital light field photography is coming to fruition and has the potential to revolutionize picture-taking. Lytro Inc., the company founded by Ng, recently announced that it will offer a consumer-level digital light field camera by the end of this year. A light field camera allows digital images to be captured now and focused later. When the pictures are shared, the viewer can choose which part of the image is in focus: the foreground, the background, or something in between. It will allow people to capture a moment and dynamically relive it and share it in different ways, as determined by the eye of the beholder of the photograph instead of just the eye of the photographer.
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Micromirror arrays: Not just for projectors any more

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Posted by admin under Interesting Facts
Micromirror arrays are commonly found in digital projectors. However, they can be utilized for other applications. For example, in a past project for Geospatial Systems, Inc. (GSI, now Optech), ASE creatively used an off-the-shelf projector array in the construction of a multi-object spectrometer. The array is used for target selection in place of a conventional slit mask or fiber bundle. It allows the system to be rapidly reconfigured and makes it well suited for studying objects that cover a small field of view, such as star clusters. A recent article in “MEMS Investor Journal” describes another interesting application, a variable focal length lens to improve the zoom performance of cell phone cameras. Currently, camera phones do not contain ...
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"Essential Engineering" on Groks Science

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Posted by admin under Philosophy of Science
I just caught an interesting interview with Dr. Henry Petroski over on the Groks Science Radio Show (a quirky show that I loved long before its co-producer, Charles Lee, moved to my undergraduate alma mater). Petroski is a professor of civil engineering over at Duke, and he's got a new book out entitled Essential Engineering, which deals with why engineering is essential in the modern world, and how engineering is different from basic science. The subtitle of the book is "Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems." That phrasing may sound critical of basic science, but that certainly isn't the intent.
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Solar Cells, Fly’s Eyes, and the Archimedes Death Ray

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Posted by admin under Interesting Facts
Solar power is an increasingly popular topic as the need to develop sustainable sources of “clean” energy grows. The April 2011 issue of Optics and Photonics News (OPN) has an interesting article on research being done to improve solar cells by incorporating the features of compound fly’s eyes.  See "Insect Eyes Inspire Improved Solar Cells" on pages 39-43 for more information.  The article begins with “a short history of solar power”. It mentions the legend that Archimedes set enemy ships on fire during an attack on Syracuse, presumably by focusing the sun’s rays using reflectors.
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Introducing Jennifer Rouke

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
Readers, please welcome our newest poster, Jennifer Rouke. With Jennifer’s help, we’ll be better able to bring you interesting topics while balancing the demands of our clients’ projects and our own research. Jennifer is an optical engineer on the ASE Optics team. Her doctoral research at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester was on birefringence in gradient-index (GRIN) materials. Read more about Jennifer’s background.
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New posts coming soon...

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
It's been a really hectic few months here, what with SBIR proposals, a fewconferences, and, of course, actual engineering. We're not complaining about being busy, of course, and we recently hired a new scientist, Wade Cook, to act as Engineering Manager. You can expect to read posts from him here in the near future.
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Repost from The Limited Monopoly

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Posted by admin under Patents and Intellectual Property
John Hammond (our patent agent over at  Patent Innovations) and his colleague Bob Gunderman are the authors of a really nice newsletter called The Limited Monopoly. A few years ago they wrote a hysterical article entitled "Patentability and the 'Long-Felt Unmet Need'—The Christmas Tree Stand as a Case Study." In the spirit of the season, John has given us permission to share it here. Enjoy!
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Answering Your Burning Questions

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
Got a general optics question? We're looking for blog topics that interest you. Email us your question and include your mailing address. If we pick your question, we'll send you an ASE Optics lens cloth!  
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A Microscope on Your Cell Phone

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Posted by admin under Science in Action
Dr. Daniel Fletcher's research group at University of California Berkley has developed a microscope attachment for cell phones. Termed the "CellScope", the attachment turns "the camera of a standard cell phone into a ...
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Suggested Reading: "Streets of the optical scientists" at Skulls in the Stars

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Posted by admin under History of Science
Greg Gbur over at Skulls in the Stars (note its new home at Scientopia) has posted aterrific travelogue of the many streets in Amsterdam that are named for scientists, with a large number of them being optical scientists.
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NIF in the News

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Posted by admin under Government Science
CNN has a nice glossy article on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The goal of NIF is to generate energy through controlled fusion triggered by laser pulses. NIF is now the largest laser in the world, a title formerly held by the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) here in Rochester, NY. There's some friendly competition between the two projects
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Happy Birthday, HST!

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Posted by admin under Astronomy
It's been twenty years since the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched on April 24, 1990. The Connecticut Post has a really nice article describing how the engineers who designed HST still remain emotionally attached to the project. As is well known, when the first images arrived from HST, it was discovered that the primary mirror was flawed. The flaw was caused because of...
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Giants' Shoulders #22

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Posted by admin under History of Science
The Giants' Shoulders (originally organized by a colleague over at Skulls in the Stars) is a monthly event in which bloggers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds all write about science history on the same day (more or less). It's always an interesting read, and this month it's hosted at The Lay Scientist. You can see a list of the articleshere.
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One more day to submit research "Grand Challenge" ideas to the White House!

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Posted by admin under Government Science
Peter Emmel just notified me that the White House has put forth a request for information (RFI) for new "Grand Challenges" for the 21st Century. In essence they are soliciting ideas for a new "Moon Shot." There are no formal formatting instructions, and anyone can participate. It is essentially a public opinion poll on how research dollars will be spent... So speak up! The main PR site is here, but more detailed information is available from the original press release.
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Productive Stupidity" or "Failure Is the Only Way to Win the Nobel Prize

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Posted by admin under Interesting Facts
I wanted to point people toward a really good article that appeared in the SPIE Professional back in October 2009 entitled "Productive Stupidity" by Martin A. Schwartz. It's a reprint of his article "The importance of stupidity in scientific research", which previously appeared in Journal of Cell Science 121, 1771 (2008). The thrust of the article is that "science is supposed to be hard," and most of the time you're going to be wrong...
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Hello world!

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Posted by admin under Astronomy,News & Announcements
Welcome to the blog for ASE Optics, Inc., a contract engineering firm out of Rochester, NY specializing in "inspired optical engineering." We create applied engineering solutions for a wide range of applications. Our focus is on innovative, cost-effective designs. We enjoy solving problems with creativity and collaboration. Our highly skilled PhD, MS, and BS level engineers bring extensive experience and knowledge of both theoretical and applied systems. Drawing on the depth of optical talent in the Rochester, New York region, our team has the expertise to tackle the most complex of challenges.
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The Year of Astronomy

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Posted by admin under Astronomy,Philosophy of Science,Government Science,History of Science,Interesting Facts,Science in Action,Patents and Intellectual Property,News & Announcements
2009 is (well at this point it basically was), the International Year of Astronomy. One of the cooler outcomes of this was "The Gallileoscope" Project. For twenty bucks (plus about $15 shipping) they'll provide you with a decent refracting telescope kit that you can assemble in about twenty minutes. Although this telescope is inexpensive, it's not cheap. In particular it uses "achromatic lenses," meaning that the images you see aren't going to be a smeary mess of colors. Better yet, the Optical Society of America (OSA) has a donation challenge going on. If you buy your scope through their website, then they will match your purchase with a donation to the charitable OSA Foundation. To sweeten the deal the telescopes are actually cheaper through OSA—$24 including shipping. You just can't lose, folks.
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"Ada Lovelace Day" Feature: Hilda Kingslake

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Posted by admin under History of Science
This is just under the wire, but Greg Gbur over at Skulls in the Stars put up a nice article on women in science that alerted me that today is "Ada Lovelace Day." In the words of the Ada Lovelace Day organizers: Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging (videologging, podcasting, comic drawing etc.!) to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science.
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Rochester Optical Technology Provides Assistance in Haiti

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Posted by admin under News & Announcements
We want to take a moment to applaud the University of Rochester's Center for Emerging & Innovative Sciences (CEIS), the Rochester Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Imaging Algorithms and Systems (LIAS), and especially our close colleagues at Geospatial Systems, Inc. (GSI), for developing the laser sensors
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