Photonics scientist talks laser radar technology

<p>Paul McManamon, former president of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, discussed the past and future applications of laser radar technology at a lecture held at the Computing Research and Engineering Building on Busch campus. The Rutgers Photonic Club invited the speaker.</p>

Paul McManamon, former president of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, discussed the past and future applications of laser radar technology at a lecture held at the Computing Research and Engineering Building on Busch campus. The Rutgers Photonic Club invited the speaker.


Paul McManamon, former president of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, or SPIE, talked about future and past applications of laser radar at a lecture yesterday.

About twenty Rutgers students and faculty members attended the event in the Computing Research and Engineering Building on Busch campus led by McManamon, currently an independent consultant and the technical director for the Ladar and Optical Communications Institute at the University of Dayton.

The Rutgers Photonics Club invited McManamon as the guest speaker for its “First Annual Invited Lecturer Series.” Rose Soskind, a member of SPIE, said the instructional event was important to encourage students to adopt a more professional approach toward science.

Photonics is the science of light and a field with contributions and applications in many disciplies, including biotechnology, electrical engineering and material science, according to the SPIE webiste.

“Students don’t have to wait until college to start a career in [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and should not be afraid to try new things,” said Soskind, president of the club.

Soskind, a third-year student in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, said she found security and comfort through the rational explanations of the world that only science can provide.

“From personal experience, becoming an SPIE student member during my senior year of high school allowed me to gain valuable research skills, to become involved with SPIE and to meet experts in the field of photonics,” Soskind said.

Her father always emphasized the power of the mind, which must be cherished and trained to think rationally, she said. Her main interest and focus of research combines the study of photonics and photomedicine.

Soskind said the club has been officially affiliated with Rutgers since last year due to her and some other students’ contributions, which inspired the foundation of a scientific community on campus. Currently, it is composed of 30 members, some of which are officially conducting advanced research for SPIE.

Soskind continues to propose conferences and seminars while concurrently selecting an expert team of researchers to present their findings to the public at various conferences, she said.

Soskind described McManamon as an engaging speaker who possesses the necessary credentials to promote such a discipline.

Following a preview of his main points, McManamon said SPIE is a non-profit organization with members that have been noticed for their reaserch and analysis skills.

He said the terms “lidar” and “ladar” are almost interchangeable. While lidar refers to light detection and ranging, widely used with atmosphere, ladar refers to laser detection, predominantly used with hard targets by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

McManamon said CO2 lasers were the earliest gas laser to be invented. He summarized the history of laser radars and CO2 laser functions.

He said opticts have advantage over microwave radar. Optics have a greater resolution compared to microwave radar.

“The only bad thing is that we cannot see through the clouds,” McManamon said.

The use of coherent ladar, instead of direct detection, is more beneficial because it provides an accurate measurement of velocity while directly measuring the return field, he said. The atmospheric interactions may manipute the research results.

“You get disturbances that bend the light,” he said.

Any atmospheric effect is not symetrical, though, McManamon said.

The conclusive point discussed the importance of ladar as the most prominent technology, which should serve both commercial and military purposes, he said. The use of fiber and diode lasers should increase.

Michael Soskind, a first-year student in the School of Engineering and member of SPIE said he enjoyed learning about photonics.

“I believe it is part of our everyday life. We cannot deny the impact of such innovative technology on the future,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this article credited Paul McManamon as a chief scientist at of the International Society for Optics and Photonics.


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