Quantum technology is often seen as a difficult, not intuitively understandable scientific subject – even for scientists. Nevertheless, it will more than before influence and shape our living in the 21st century. Over decades quantum computers were predicted and their possible game-changing capabilities were advertised – now first systems are a reality. The laser, a quantum technology first experimentally realized by Maiman in 1960, extends its applications to more and more wavelengths with increasing power levels and thus enables many new fields of application and new capabilities. Profiting from these evolutions, new active optronic sensor systems emerge that combine lasers, optics, opto-electronic sensors and image exploitation and pave the way for new methods to make objects better visible and measurable to humans and machines.
In this visIT issue we want to shed some light onto the topics of lasers, photonic quantum technology and related active optronic sensor systems by giving you an insight into the contributions of Fraunhofer IOSB to these future key technologies in civil and defense applications. The focus of this visIT hereby lies mainly on the near-to-mid infrared spectral range.
We start our overview with quantum ghost imaging, a technology creating images from entangled photons that actually never have seen the object. As the object is illuminated by single photons, it is predicted that such imaging can be realized without any possibility of being detected. Yet more classical, we then discuss latest results on 3D gated viewing, which uses direct laser illumination, and current work on an active compressive sensing camera. As last example for optronic systems, we show that they can be used to speed up maintenance and safety tasks in wind parks using laser Doppler vibrometry on rotor blades of wind turbines.
All these applications rely on specific laser sources. Thus, laser source research is a prerequisite for future novel applications. Especially in the defense sector – but more and more also for civilian applications – access to critical components of laser and optronic systems and a technological sovereignty therein is of utmost importance. Therefore, Fraunhofer IOSB is performing research on critical components, focusing on crystals for lasers and non-linear converters and fiber components for high-power fiber lasers in the short- and mid-wave infrared spectral range in order to cover the critical parts of the whole value chain of IR solid-state and fiber laser sources. Based on the extended capabilities offered through such components, novel laser sources become possible. We finally give an insight into our highpower solid-state and fiber laser sources research and development in the short-wave and mid-wave infrared spectral range.
We wish you an enjoyable and informative reading of this issue.