Prof. James B. Breckinridge
Adjunct Professor
SPIE Involvement:
Conference Chair | Conference Program Committee | Track Chair | Editorial Board Member: Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems | Author | Editor | Instructor | Visiting Lecturer
Area of Expertise:
Optical System Engineering , Imaging Systems , Interferometry , Optics Education , Space Optics , Polarization
Profile Summary

Autonomous self-assembling of large space telescopes for JWST follow-on, the effects of uncorrected polarization aberrations on exoplanet coronagraphy and precision polarimetry of exoplanet atmospheres, surfaces and dust rings are Dr. Breckinridge’s current research interests.
Dr Breckinridge earned his BSc degree in Physics from Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, OH in 1961 and his MSc and PhD in Optics at the University of Arizona, Tucson AZ. His dissertation was the development of the rotational shear spatial interferometer with applications to problems in the astronomical sciences. At JPL he was the instrument scientist for the ATMOS and the founding manager of the JPL Optics Section, which is responsible for the design, construction, and testing of most of the space-flight optical systems built by JPL. In 1994 Dr. Breckinridge became the JPL program manager for Innovative Optical Systems. In 1999 he accepted an assignment to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington DC to manage the Advanced Technologies and Instruments program for the Astronomical Sciences Division. He returned to JPL in 2003 to become the chief technologist for the NASA exo-planet program. In Jan 2010 he retired from JPL after 33 years of service.
Dr. Breckinridge taught the Optical Engineering class in the CALTECH Applied Physics and Aeronautics departments from 1983 to current. In 2003 he was the recipient of the George W. Goddard award of the SPIE. Dr. Breckinridge has over 95 publications in astronomy, physical optics, spectroscopy, and image science. Dr. Breckinridge currently holds an academic appointment at CALTECH as a visiting associate in Aeronautics and is an Adjunct Professor of Optics at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a consultant in space optics systems and technology.
Publications (42)

Proceedings Article | 22 December 2020 Poster + Paper
Proc. SPIE. 11443, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2020: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
KEYWORDS: Point spread functions, Telescopes, Polarization, Imaging systems, Wavefronts, Wave plates, Polarimetry, Coronagraphy, Ray tracing, Tolerancing

Proceedings Article | 13 December 2020 Presentation + Paper
Proc. SPIE. 11443, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2020: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
KEYWORDS: Microelectromechanical systems, Telescopes, Rockets, Visible radiation, Light scattering, Wavefronts, Deformable mirrors, Coronagraphy, Exoplanets, Prototyping

Proceedings Article | 5 November 2020 Paper
Proc. SPIE. 11568, AOPC 2020: Optics Ultra Precision Manufacturing and Testing
KEYWORDS: Diffraction, Point spread functions, Telescopes, Mirrors, Stars, Imaging systems, Image segmentation, Exoplanets, Optical instrument design, James Webb Space Telescope

Proceedings Article | 24 August 2020 Presentation
Proc. SPIE. 11479, Roland V. Shack Memorial Session: A Celebration of One of the Great Teachers of Optical Aberration Theory
KEYWORDS: Optical components, Diffraction, Aerospace engineering, Polarization, Birefringence, Image acquisition, Wavefronts, Image analysis, Exoplanets, Absorption

Proceedings Article | 9 September 2019 Presentation + Paper
Proc. SPIE. 11115, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts IX
KEYWORDS: Diffraction, Telescopes, Astronomy, Polarization, Coronagraphy, Exoplanets, Space telescopes, Transmittance, Astronomical telescopes, Optical instrument design

Showing 5 of 42 publications
Proceedings Volume Editor (20)

Showing 5 of 20 publications
Conference Committee Involvement (47)
UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts X
1 August 2021 | San Diego, California, United States
Photonic Instrumentation Engineering VIII
6 March 2021 | Online Only, California, United States
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2020: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
14 December 2020 | Online Only, California, United States
Photonic Instrumentation Engineering VII
4 February 2020 | San Francisco, California, United States
UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts IX
11 August 2019 | San Diego, California, United States
Showing 5 of 47 Conference Committees
Course Instructor
SC726: Introduction to the Optical System Engineering of Remote Sensing Systems
Scientists and engineers use optical and infrared instruments to create images and make remote measurements. Quantitative measurements of the intensity, the wavelength content and the polarization content of white-light scenes, such as the Earth’s atmosphere and surface, astronomical objects, and laboratory sources are frequently needed. This short course is intended to provide the student with an understanding of the first order optical design principals behind several remote sensing optical systems. Examples are taken from recent optics challenges surrounding the design of imagers, astronomical coronagraphs, spectrometers and imaging spectrometers.
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