NASA offers new optical switch to commercial developers

NASA is including a new optical switch among the patented technologies it's offering to private industry for development into a commercial product.

The switch, patented in January, was developed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to improve performance of the agency's optical networks.

'All of our developments grow out of the space program,' said Edward Fein, JSC patent counsel. 'NASA's goal is to ensure that the products of its research and development work achieve practical application.'

The new switch routes optical data signals without converting them to electrical signals, improving speed and synchronization on fiber optic networks. It uses a polarizing beam splitter and spatial light modulators or liquid crystal devices. It can be used to route signals to multiple destinations.

Federal laboratories and individual developers share in the royalties from patented technology. NASA screens potential licensees according to their capability and resources for developing viable commercial products. In return for royalty payments, licensees receive the exclusivity they need to warrant the investment in taking a product to market.

JSC has a portfolio of 487 patents, with more than 40 patents pending. Successfully commercialized technology from the space program includes quartz timing crystals used on Apollo missions in the 1960s and smoke detectors developed in the 1970s for Skylab.

Information about the licensing opportunities is available at the JSC Technology Transfer and Commercialization Web site.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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