OPN April 2010

Cover Story

Lasers and Optics for Measuring Tooth Decay

Daniel Fried

Lasers may finally provide dental patients a good reason to open up and say ahhhh. Dentists are already using optical technologies to detect tooth decay and lasers for therapeutic interventions, and they are looking to a future in which... more>>


Mode Harnessing for Laser Diodes

Nikolai Stelmakh and Michael Vasilyev

Recent experiments have shown that the modal structure of broad-area edge-emitting semiconductor lasers is box-like, with each lateral mode having a distinct wavelength. Thus, researchers can now reshape lateral modes and effectively combine all multimode laser output into a single-mode fiber. This approach provides a promising means for delivering high-power, high-speed modulated beams of any wavelength that are directly radiated from semiconductor lasers. more>>

Telescope Lens-Making in the 17th Century: The Legacy of Vangelista Torricelli

Giuseppe Molesini

In the early days of instrumental optics, the know-how of lens making was shrouded in secrecy. A remarkable exception can be found in a letter from 1643, in which the Italian lens-maker Vangelista Torricelli gives his correspondent directions on optical shop practices. more>>


A Large, Real-Time 3-D Display

Patricia Daukantas

A Chinese team’s 3-D display system delivers 1.8-m-tall images that don’t require polarized glasses or other specialized viewing devices. more>>

Quantum Cascade Lasers Gain Efficiency

Patricia Daukantas

Researchers have fabricated Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) that significantly boost “wall plug efficiency,” or the ratio of the power the laser emits to the power that the device consumes. more>>

Did You Know?

Patricia Daukantas

Using scanning lidar data to analyze wildfire smoke plumes. more>>


Policy Matters

Optics and the U.S. Department of Defense

Tom Price

The U.S. Department of Defense is a major source of support for optics research done in American labs, academic institutions and private businesses. more>>

The History of OSA

Profiles in Optics: Wallace R. Brode

John N. Howard

The life and career of a former JOSA editor and OSA president. more>>


When Is Science Valid?

Ken Baldwin

For scientists, peer review is the time-tested method for establishing scientific facts. But how can we educate a public that is growing accustomed to challenging a consensus they don’t understand? more>>