July/August 2011

Optogenetics: An Illuminating Journey into the Brain

Sally Cole Johnson

Through the fascinating new study of optogenetics, researchers can use light to control brain cells that have been genetically engineered to respond to specific wavelengths. This rapidly evolving field is helping to demystify how neural circuits function.


Rare Earth Elements: High Demand, Uncertain Supply

Rare earth elements are garnering global media attention due to their potential role in clean energy technologies. But these elements—which have enabled spectacular innovations in optics over the past decades—are now subject to unprecedented price shocks due to uncertainty around future supply. What does this mean for the optics community?

DNA as an Optical Material

DNA, the beautifully symmetrical “molecule of life,” carries the core genetic blueprint for every living organism. Now, through the emerging field of DNA photonics, it also has the potential to serve as an inexpensive, renewable resource in the development of optical waveguides, organic LEDs and laser structures.

The Extreme Light Infrastructure: Optics’ Next Horizon

The Extreme Light Infrastructure—a project involving nearly 40 research and academic institutions from 13 EU member countries—will allow researchers to probe laser-matter interaction at unprecedented intensity levels.

Optical Control through Light Transmission

The simple action of passing laser light through an optically transparent system may enable researchers to control a number of mechanical and optoelectronic processes. These novel interactions of light present an array of useful applications in optical switching, optical binding and fluorescence imaging.

 

Managing Up in Academia

Visions of Invisibility in Fiction

Optical 3-D Gesture Recognition

A Conversation with Rep. Ralph Hall

Going for the Gold: Metallic Beetles Bring Bling

Ship-Borne Laser Zaps Target a Mile Away

Presidential Profile: Van Zandt Williams

 

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