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Shaping the Future

Scientific Milestones During Israel’s First Half-Century
Shaping the Future

First published in 1997




Nondestructive testing

Holography is a lensless photographic method for recording and subsequently recreating an extremely exact three-dimensional image of an object. Weizmann Institute scientists developed a hybrid holographic system for nondestructive, real time tests of industrial components such as aeronautical, electronic and mechanical parts. While limited pressures are exerted on an object, without causing it any damage, the system precisely identifies and evaluates weak points and various flaws on the three-dimensional components.


Diffraction makes a difference

Weizmann Institute scientists developed innovative techniques to design and record novel diffractive optical components. These components are based on the diffraction phenomenon of light waves (and not on the principles of light refraction or reflection, upon which regular optical components are based). The resulting components are lighter, more convenient to use, and less expensive than the alternatives.
The Institute's scientists investigated possible applications of this technology, such as the development of new and more efficient components for optical computers, displays, communications, and various industrial processes. These applications are serving as the basis for developing a science-based industry in these fields.


All on the surface

Weizmann Institute scientists were among the first in the world to become involved in the technology of planar optics. In this technology, several diffractive optical components are combined on the surface of one substrate to enable the formation of a complete optical system mounted on a thin, single transparent plate. The advantages of these systems are that they are very compact, weigh very little, have a high resistance to environmental erosion, and are suitable for mass production (which means they can be advantageously exploited in a wide range of applications).
Several systems using this technology have been developed at Weizmann: compact head displays for pilots, doctors, and for virtual reality systems; systems for multiplexing and separating wavelength in optical communications; optical pattern recognition for parallel data processing in robotics; and optical interconnects between electronic circuits in computers and communication systems.


Increasing the flow of information

Weizmann Institute scientists developed a method to simultaneously transfer two-dimensional images via a single optical fiber (a task that was previously thought to be impossible). This method is based on exploiting two out of three factors that are needed to transfer data through optical fibers: the wavelength of the light transmitted, the angle of the incident light beam at the point of input to the optical fiber, and the time differences for transmitting different points of the image.
In follow-up studies, Weizmann scientists developed ways to calculate and predict the effects of nonlinearities that occur in optical fibers. (These nonlinearities lead to "noise" and disturb and limit the flow of information signals.) Their calculations and predictions enabled the scientists to find ways to decrease this undesirable noise, thereby increasing the transfer of information via optical fibers.