Cover Story

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... more>>


Rare Earth Elements: High Demand, Uncertain Supply

Marcius Extavour

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? more>>

DNA as an Optical Material

A.J. Steckl, H. Spaeth, H. You, E. Gomez and J. Grote

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. more>>

The Extreme Light Infrastructure: Optics’ Next Horizon

Gérard Mourou and Toshiki Tajima

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. more>>

Optical Control through Light Transmission

David S. Bradshaw and David L. Andrews

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. more>>


Boosting Precision and Stability of Optical Lattice Clocks

Patricia Daukantas

A Japanese team has learned how to improve the stability of an optical lattice clock by defeating one of the last remaining noise sources in the system. more>>

Going for the Gold: Metallic Beetles Bring Bling

Yvonne Carts-Powell

Researchers at the University of Costa Rica are studying how two beetles create the gold and silver on their backs. more>>

Ship-Borne Laser Zaps Target a Mile Away

Yvonne Carts-Powell

The Navy and Northrop Grumman recently tested the Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD), in which a ship-borne laser system disabled a small target boat. more>>

Better Nanoparticle Detection with Optical Microcavities

Patricia Daukantas

Scientists have devised a technique for spotting beads with a radius as small as 12.5 nm in solution, and they have improved the signal-to-noise ratio for sensing the influenza A virus by a factor of 10. more>>


Career Focus

Managing Up in Academia

Jean-luc Doumont

Life as a graduate student or post-doc is full of challenges, whether they include learning complex scientific concepts, acquiring new technical skills, or managing your first large project. For some unlucky individuals, an academic position may also bring the trial of coping with a poor relationship with their advisor. Here’s what to do if it happens to you. more>>


"Adopt-A-School" to Boost STEM Education

J. Scott Tyo

A pilot project in a Tucson school demonstrates how optical researchers and grad students can directly influence science education among today’s youth. more>>

Light Touch

Visions of Invisibility in Fiction

Greg Gbur

Long before the advent of optical cloaking, authors of science fiction were imagining how it could work—-and making some good guesses in the process. more>>

Optical Engineering

Optical 3-D Gesture Recognition

Andre Wong

With applications in gaming, business and beyond, 3-D optical gesture recognition technology uses light to turn human gestures into computerized data streams. more>>

Policy Matters

A Conversation with Rep. Ralph Hall

Laura Kolton

OPN talks with the U.S. chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee about R&D funding, America’s role in space, and how he is collaborating with the Obama Administration. more>>

The History of OSA

Presidential Profile: Van Zandt Williams

John N. Howard

Van Zandt Williams was OSA’s 1966 President for just five months due to his untimely death—but he had a lasting impact on the Society, particularly in the areas of education and outreach. more>>