Photonic, Optical & Laser Systems

Image: A vial of SwRI-produced quantum dots—small collections of atoms that have unique properties—is seen glowing in the infrared camera monitor. The dots are excited by a laser, while a probe is used to characterize their emission spectrum.

A vial of SwRI-produced quantum dots—small collections of atoms that have unique properties—is seen glowing in the infrared camera monitor. The dots are excited by a laser, while a probe is used to characterize their emission spectrum.


Image: Thermal imaging is used to remotely measure the temperature of objects. Note the warm forehead and cold fingers.

Thermal imaging is used to remotely measure the temperature of objects. Note the warm forehead and cold fingers.


Image: Circuit board can be inspected using thermal imaging to locate hot spots that may indicate component failure.

Circuit board can be inspected using thermal imaging to locate hot spots that may indicate component failure.


Image: A terahertz imaging and spectroscopy station was developed for imaging and nondestructive inspection.

A terahertz imaging and spectroscopy station was developed for imaging and nondestructive inspection.


Image: Laser-induced fluorescence emission from a flask of beer. The bluish laser beam was made visible by a double exposure. The fluorescence is the whitish light emitted from the beer. Spectrometer in the background makes quantitative measurements.

Laser-induced fluorescence emission from a flask of beer. The bluish laser beam was made visible by a double exposure. The fluorescence is the whitish light emitted from the beer. Spectrometer in the background makes quantitative measurements.

The Applied Physics Division has experience in a broad range of laser and electro-optics applications. Well-equipped laboratories contain state-of-the-art lasers, spectrometers, optics benches, instrumentation, and specialized support equipment. In addition to laboratory measurements and simulations, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has significant experience in specialized field measurements. Interdisciplinary projects with other divisions are routinely supported. SwRI also holds a number of patents involving optical technology.

Jeff Boehme, Ph.D., Principal Engineer
Joe Mitchell, Senior Research Engineer

Photonic, Optical & Laser Systems Technical Strengths

Optical Sensing and Spectroscopy

  • Optical systems provide a non-contact method for inspection, measurement, and detection. Spectroscopic methods provide further characterization to identify specific properties of materials and objects.
    • 3D measurement and identification of objects
    • Velocity measurements of projectiles
    • Emission spectra of optical sources
    • Absorption and transmission of coatings and materials
    • Hyperspectral imaging
    • Raman spectroscopy for measurement of the structure and chemical composition of matter.

Infrared (IR) and Ultraviolet (UV) Imaging

  • Imaging outside of the visible spectrum can reveal properties of an object or an environment that are not apparent to the eye.
    • Structural inspections
    • Circuit board failure analysis
    • Remote temperature measurement
    • Inspection of powerline components for corona (UV) and heating (IR) UV plume detection
    • Corrosion measurement

Light Delivery Systems

  • Many systems developed by SwRI require optical components to emit or detect light. These systems vary from breadboard-mounted optics to complete, custom machined solutions.
    • Broadly tunable diode lasers
    • Fiber optics research
    • Custom camera optics
    • Design of ultra-fast systems to generate terahertz radiation
    • UV laser holography
    • Long-range light delivery and collection

Laser-Induced Fluorescence

  • Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) is a method for detection of selected molecular species. Typically, a laser excites a material and the fluorescence signal is measured spectroscopically.
    • Detection of foreign material in food products
    • Inspection of polymer degradation
    • Photocharacterization of abnormal tissue and other medical applications
    • Measurement of degradation of jet fuels
Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 11 technical divisions.
04/15/14