March 07, 2014
Image of the Week
Table of Contents
OPN Image Galleries
Image of the Week
Image of the Week Gallery
Single jet beam ejected from the femtosecond laser induced micro air plasma with the focal lens inside the lens tube on the right properly offset. Olympus C5050Z. [Honorable mention 2013 After Image photo contest.] —Zhijun Xu, Nankai University
A Symphony of Color
An ensemble of optical beam splitter cubes illuminated by a flash light. —Dirk C. Heinecke and Oliver Kliebisch, University of Konstanz, Center for Applied Photonics, Germany
Mark your calendar: Analysis of data from the Hubble Space Telescope shows that, about four billion years from now, our Milky Way galaxy is destined for a gigantic collision with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, as shown in this illustration. —NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas; and A. Mellinger
Night-shining "noctilucent" clouds shine with light made blue by ozone absorption in the uppermost atmosphere, while the lower atmosphere glows red in deep twilight. Photographed from an airplane at 11.8 km over western Canada. [Honorable mention 2013 After Image photo contest.] —Joseph A. Shaw, Montana State University
A hexagonal arrangement of seven ball lenses, each forming an image of the triangular pattern behind them. [Third place 2013 After Image photo contest.] —William P. Risk, IBM
Ray of Light
The Photoelasticity of tape. [Second place 2013 After Image photo contest.] —Katy Wood, Maryland Institute College of Art
Typical cone-shaped light emission, taken when a piece of white paper is used to intercept sideways the transmitting light of a femtosecond laser that propagates from the right to the left, producing a micro air plasma ball (also shown on the right)Olympus C5050Z. [Winner 2013 After Image photo contest.] —Zhijun Xu, Nankai University
Crystal Ball or Green Bulb?
A green Christmas tree ornament imaged by a large glass sphere in the main lobby. —Page King, University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, U.S.A.
Beautiful colors are generated by viewing an LED flashlight through grating array. —Chun-hui Yu, National Yang Ming University, Taiwan
Wave clouds and a halo decorate the winter sky. —Joseph A. Shaw, Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., U.S.A.
Fire in the sky
A golden sun pillar and halo arc in Montana. —Joseph A. Shaw, Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., U.S.A.
Display of holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park, Ore., U.S.A. Over 200,000 LEDS are on display throughout the park, both above ground and under water. — Robert E. Schalck, Senior OSA Member, U.S.A. — Robert E. Schalck, Senior OSA Member, U.S.A.
Merry and bright
Holiday lights imaged by a lens — Page E. King, College of Optical Sciences, U.S.A.
Cloud formation nucleated by high altitude commercial jet condensation trails over Santa Barbara, Calif., U.S.A. — Samuel F. Pellicori, Pelicori Optical Consulting, U.S.A.
At the End of the Day
Capturing the sunset in my hand. — Ausra Gustainyte, Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Lithuania
White light scattered from a dilute amount of Intralipid in water. — Adam K. Glaser, Dartmouth College
A double rainbow appears behind the trees at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The second rainbow is observed when the sun’s rays bounce twice inside the water drops. –Rocio Borrego Varillas
A red, blue and green filter array at the focal point of a field mirror shows density gradients caused by rising columns of warmed air. The columns displayed as specific colors as they bent light rays towards the red or green filter. Undeviated light passed through central blue strip. –Andrew Davidhazy
Image of a mirror effect glitch made with photographs of cut paper under a black light. –Aphoristic J. Ways
A high-speed steel marble hits a glass plate and forms an isogyre pattern on the glass. The plate is between two crossed polarizer so it shows the shock-induced birefringence. –Alan Sailer, California, U.S.A.
Color under pressure
Glass disc between crossed polarizers while compressed by jaws of a C-clamp–Andrew Davidhazy
A Triptych of Mirrors
At the Nicolaus Copernicus University Institute of Physics, three mirrors are arranged in a triangle, allowing one to see multiple optical copies of oneself. – Karol Karnowski, Nicolaus Copernicus University
Light enters through a fiber from the left, traverses a silicone cube—where it is embedded in the hollow prism filled with liquid—and then exits. An optical fiber on the right collects part of the beam. Optofluidic prisms measure the refractive index of liquids. –Sergio Calixto, Centro de Investigaciones en Optica, Mexico
The Colossus in Coma
Enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies were found using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. These features, which span at least half a million light years, provide insight into how the cluster has grown through mergers of smaller groups of galaxies to become one of the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity. Chandra data is in pink, and that from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is white and blue. –X-ray: NASA/CXC/MPE/J. Sanders et al; Sloan Digital Sky Survey
Victoria Falls Rainbow
A rainbow, caused by refraction of light in water drops, shines over the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe –Rocio Borrego Varillas
Refraction enhances a beautiful sunset in Rottnest Island, 20 km off the coast of Perth, Australia, on 12 March 2013. The photographer is looking out across the Indian Ocean—next stop Madagascar! –Danuta Bukowska, Nicolaus Copernicus University
Fluorescent carbon nanoparticle solution with UV lamp illumination. –Caires Anderson, Federal University of Minas Gerais
More Soapy Optics
This photo was taken while children play with the soap bubbles. The image of surrounding forest and sun rays are visible in the bubble. –Danuta Bukowska, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland
Brian Monacelli (far right) and Roy McCord (far left) demonstrate a laser system to students at the Irvine Valley College in California. –Brian Monacelli
A halo of color is produced by light reflected in ice crystals. –Himansu Pattanaik, CREOL, University of Central Florida
Epi-illumination photomicrograph of MEMS device at 40X magnification. Colors result from thin-film interference between layers and coatings, and spatial interference occurs in the central section, where the spatial extent of features are near the diffraction limit of the imaging lens (40 mm Zeiss Epi-Luminar). –Andrew Resnick, Cleveland State Univ., U.S.A.
Red and white vapor clouds fill the skies over the Marshall Islands as part of NASA’s Equatorial Vortex Experiment. The red cloud was formed by the release of lithium vapor, and the white by the discharge of trimethyl aluminum. The clouds allow scientists from ground locations to observe neutral winds in the ionosphere. –NASA/John Grant
Sponge spicules in polarized light microscopy show beautiful color. –Yihong Guo, Tsinghua University, China
Cylindrical lens illuminated by a flash light. –Page King, University of Arizona, U.S.A.
Polarization of Plastic Spoon Segment. —Katy Wood, Texas
Beautiful scattering light pattern falls on the water's surface. —Jalpa Soni, IISER Kolkata
Interference in a Mach Zehnder interferometer that is testing patterned glass. –Danielle C. Doughty and Poonam P. Kadam, University of Arizona, U.S.A.
Refraction and diffraction
Water drop on the back of a compact disc. — Anthony T. Clutter, University of Arizona, U.S.A. Honorable Mention OPN 2011 Photo Contest
The Swift mosaic of the Small Magellanic Cloud contains about 250,000 ultraviolet sources. The 57-megapixel image was assembled from 656 separate snapshots. The image has a total exposure time of 1.8 days, an angular resolution of 2.5 arcseconds at full size, and maps UV light at wavelengths between 1,600 and 3,300 angstroms. The SMC is about 7,000 light-years across. –NASA, Swift, S. Immler (Goddard) and M. Siegel (Penn State)
The second-harmonic-generation frequency-resolved optical gating spectrogram of an ultrashot laser pulse. The autocorrelation shows that the pulse duration is 11.6 fs. –Chen-Ting Liao, University of Arizona, U.S.A.
A multi-color optical vortex is generated in a Raman active crystal. –Kai Wang, Miaochan Zhi, Xia Hua, James Strohaber, and Alexei V. Sokolov, Texas A&M University
Light-matter wave mixing
Laguerre-Gaussian beam light-matter wave mixing in a Bose-Einstein condensate creates a matter-wave vortex. –L. Deng and C.J. Zhu
In a 4-s exposure (with flash), student Jackie O'Brien lights a match with a 200-mW red diode laser at Oswego High School in Oswego, N.Y., U.S.A., under the direction of physics teacher Thomas C. Altman. –Thomas C. Altman
New plasma-assisted e-beam vacuum deposition system from Inrad Optics. –Inrad Optics
The Rheinberg illumination technique is used to image slime mold (Dictyostelium discoideum) on agar.—William R. West, Burlington, N.C., U.S.A.
Interference contrast image of unintentional and apparently destructive etching of an AlGaAs/GaAs superlattice on a GaAs wafer by hydrogen chloride, which penetrated a 100-nm-thick GaAs capping layer. —Wolfgang Stumpf, ETH Zurich
African Clawed Frog
Confocal tile scan of Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) tadpole (10x).—Tong Zhang, McGill University, Canada, Nikon Small World Competition, 2009 Image of Distinction
Polarizing microscope image of a nematic liquid crystal micro-droplet (about 50 µm) confined in an optical adhesive (dark background). Energy conservation causes the molecules to align in one of the stable radial configurations. —Ravi K. Komanduri, North Carolina State University
Frequency of Sound
Visualization of sound, laser vibrating through speaker in certain frequency, in this case female voice singing. — Manuela Donoso, NYU
James Webb Telescope Model at SXSW
As big as a tennis court and as tall as a four-story building, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to Hubble and the largest space telescope to ever be built. A full-scale model was on display from March 8-10 at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. — NASA/Chris Gunn
Through the Fresnel Lens
Looking out over the Lower New York Bay from inside Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the United States., a submission from the OPN 2012 After Image photo contest. — Scott A. Holmstrom, University of Tulsa
Refraction of sun light and surrounding scene in a twisted jet of water., a submission from the OPN 2012 After Image photo contest. — Philipp Jester
Franklinite under UV light., a submission from the OPN 2012 After Image photo contest. — Robert E. Schalck, Hardin Optical, U.S.A.
The highly distorted supernova remnant shown in this image may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The remnant, called W49B, is about a thousand years old, as seen from Earth, and is at a distance about 26,000 light years away. The image combines X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue and green, radio data from the NSF's Very Large Array in pink, and infrared data from Caltech's Palomar Observatory in yellow. — X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA
The Face of High-Power Lasing
Martin Gorjan works on the PFS-pro high-power laser system in the new Laboratory for Extreme Photonics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. PFS-pro generates ultrashort and extremely intense light pulses, which will be used in attosecond physics to explore the fastest processes in the microcosm. — Thorsten Naeser
A green laser sent through a diffraction grating and then refracted through a glass sphere. 2nd Place Winner of the 2012 After Image photo contest. — Page King, College of Optical Sciences Tucson, AZ, U.S.A.
Night Shining Clouds
Polar mesospheric clouds—also known as noctilucent or “night shining” clouds—form between 76 to 85 kilometers (47 to 53 miles) above the Earth’s surface, near the boundary of the mesosphere and thermosphere, a region known as the mesopause. This astronaut photograph was taken when the International Space Station (ISS)was over the Pacific Ocean south of French Polynesia. —NASA
Laser beams of three primary colors are guided inside streams of liquid into a ceramic bowl, where they combine to form white light (horizontal crop). Winner of the 2012 After Image photo contest. — Alexander R. Albrecht, University of New Mexico, U.S.A.
The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo. Selected as 1st Place in Nikon’s Small World competition. — Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
X Marks the Spot
Induced scintillation from a phosphorescent sheet irradiated with an x-ray photon beam at +/- 30 degrees from the vertical. The isocenter lies at the middle of the sheet where the two beams overlap and become more intense. —Adam K. Glaser, Dartmouth College
Earth at Night
This new global view of Earth's city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth's land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet. —NASA's Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD
Snow crystal, illuminated with colored lights. Selected as an Honorable Mention in Nikon’s Small World competition —Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, California Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
Syrup & Tape
Bottle of corn syrup and scotch tape illuminated by a computer screen - viewed with and without a linear polarizer. —Adam K. Glaser, Dartmouth College
Students perform measurements of the aurora in front of the Kjell Henriksen Observatory. Svalbard, Norway, November 2010. —Njaal Gulbarndsen
Individual pixels on the LCD display of an iPhone, taken with a 28X machine vision lens and CCD camera. The field of view is approximately 210 µm x 170 µm. —Dave Gardner, Thorlabs
The attractive iridescent green of the Indonesian Papilio palinurus butterfly is not generated by chemical pigments but by special concavities of 4-10 microns in diameter located in two-dimensional arrays in the wing scales. The optical image was captured by using an optical microscope (magnification 200) together with a digital pocket camera. Note that concavities act as secondary punctual light sources and the image is affected by the optical aberrations of the lens. —Jose M. Medina, University of Minho, Portugal; and José A. Diaz, University of Granada, Spain
The powerful primary mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to detect the light from distant galaxies. The manufacturer of those mirrors, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., recently celebrated their successful efforts as mirror segments were packed up in special shipping canisters (cans) for shipping to NASA. — Image Credit: Ball Aerospace / NASA
Ribbons of Light
Long fluorescent ribbons constructed from thousands of semiconducting quantum dot nanoparticles, which are about 10,000x smaller in diameter than a human hair. Selected as an Image of Distinction in Nikon’s Small World competition — Jonathan T. Pham & Catherine Russell, University of Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Transgenic mouse embryo, selected as an Image of Distinction in Nikon’s Small World competition — Amanda Phillips-Yzaguirre and Nancy Speck, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Flying bubbles over Sausalito toward San Francisco.
As these "gigantic bubbles" fly, they also create dispersion at the edges, which make them colorful. —Ahmet F. Coskun, UCLA
Helix Nebula - Unraveling at the Seams
A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. —NASA/JPL-Caltech
Technicians and scientists check out one of the Webb telescope's first two flight mirrors on Sept. 19, 2012 in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. —NASA/Chris Gunn
The Italian Boot
This oblique, night time panorama of much of Europe was photographed by one of the Expedition 32 crew members aboard the International Space Station flying approximately 240 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Aug. 18, 2012. —NASA
Long Exposure Image
Long exposure image of Čerenkov radiation and the induced fluorescence from a dilute amount of Fluorescein in water when irradiated with a medical LINAC megavoltage electron beam. —Adam K. Glaser, Dartmouth College
Cell Phone Chip
Chip removed from an old cell phone. Image acquired using epi-brightfield (tungsten-halogen bulb) at approximately 10X magnification. Colors are due to various optical effects, including interference from interior thin dielectic layers and surface plasmon resonance from interior thin metal layers. Setup included a Zeiss 16-mm Luminar objective on a Zeiss microscope stand and a Sony a850 camera body. —Andrew Resnick, Cleveland State University
Broadband light generation in Raman crystals
We focused two femtosecond laser beams into a 500-µm-thick PbWO4 Raman crystal to generate a broad spectrum of coherent Raman sidebands. The orange line is the 870-nm Stokes beam and the purple is the 800 nm pump beam; the rest are sideband beams. We observed 23 anti-Stokes and 2 Stokes Raman sidebands. —Miaochan Zhi, Kai Wang and Alexei V. Sokolov
Gas jets are widely used as targets for laser acceleration experiments and their characterization is crucial to optimize the process. In this setup the change in the wavefront of a HeNe laser is used to measure the gas density. —Rocio Borrego Varillas, University Salamanca
Total Reflection. —Alireza Aghajamali, Shiraz, Iran
Approaching the critical angle. A green laser pointer shines through a jar of water doped with traces of highlighter fluid. This is an effective way to demonstrate refraction, scattering, and total internal reflection.— Matthew E. Anderson, San Diego State University
Sunlight is scattered by air balloons producing a beautiful colorful pattern in a tree. —Rocio Borrego Varillas, University Salamanca
This image demonstrates how prisms add path length and depth of field. While the yellow flower itself is not in focus, its image in the right-angle prism is, as are the red flowers behind the yellow one and the prism. The blue beads next to the prism are up against the surface of the prism facing the camera. —Danielle C. Doughty, University of Arizona, U.S.A.
Image shows 83.33 hours of cosmic ray particles striking a Hamamatsu ORCA-ER digital CCD camera. Each of the three color channels are 10,000 exposures, 10 seconds each. Camera background has been removed and gamma adjusted for better contrast. August 7, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of cosmic rays. — George McNamara, Analytical Imaging Core Facility, University of Miami.
This composite image, created using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope, shows the molecular cloud Cepheus B, located in our galaxy about 2,400 light years from the Earth. —X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/K. Getman et al.; IRL NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J. Wang et al.
Light is part of the art in this installation at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. —Photo by Christina Folz
Tracing Star Twinkling
Scintillation and telescope jitter are recast into a beautiful image. A telephoto lens was wiggled slightly to capture a five-second exposure of the star Sirius on 4 January 2012. As the star‘s twinkling image skated around the focal plane, it traced graceful, colorful arcs. Twinkling is the rapid fluctuation in brightness and color of a star due to changes in the density of air pockets. — David K. Lynch, Thule Scientific
Learning by Laser
The helium-neon laser used for outreach activities by the Salamanca OSA Student Chapter: The cell is pumped by two electrodes that produce an electrical discharge. The cavity also consists of two Brewster windows and two mirrors.— R. Borrego Varillas, University of Salamanca, Spain
Earth’s City Lights
Earth’s city lights imaged with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System. Permanent lights and reflected light reveal the most urbanized areas on the planet. —Data courtesy of Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. —Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.
Green Flash and Super Moon
On May 6 the much-touted super moon, the largest full moon of 2012, rose over this peaceful harbor near the La Perdrix lighthouse on the coast of Brittany, France. The rise of the moon was preceded by a green flash, captured in the first frame of a time lapse video recorded that night. This two-second exposure shows the strongly colored flash to the left of the lighted buoy near the center. Green flashes for the sun and moon are caused by atmospheric refraction enhanced by long, low sight lines and strong atmospheric temperature gradients often favored by a sea horizon. —Laurent Laveder, www.pixheaven.net
A cell sample is imaged using the total internal reflectance fluorescence microscopy instrument developed by Spectral Applied Research. Laser light is refracted near the critical angle. To learn more, read the article on p. 12 of the May 2012 OPN. —Richard Berman, Spectral Applied Research
Transit of Venus
The transit of Venus, captured on 5 June 2012. A solar filter was used to isolate a narrow orange-yellow portion of the solar spectrum and attenuate it to the level where it could be viewed safely through a camera. —Joseph A. Shaw
The photo was taken on the night of 25 April 2012 through the curtain of a window at the Ramada Plaza hotel in Antalya, Turkey. It shows diffraction from the curtain, which serves as a 2D grid for incoherent light from strong and weak light projectors on the shoreline. —Ibrahim Abdulhalim, Ben Gurion University, Israel
Light shines into a transparent cylinder, disperses into colors, and internally reflects. The rays cluster and cross to form spirals of caustic light. —Ray tracing by Les Cowley done using Prism HD, an iPad/iPhone app created by Orion Elenzil.
Ring of Fire
An annular solar eclipse took place on Sunday 20 May. It was the first solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in 18 years. The Earth's moon passed in front of the sun, casting a giant shadow across the land. —NASA
A huge bubble imaged by Myles Duffy at Gaudi's Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain. —Myles Duffy
The larger of the two stars in the Eta Carinae system is a huge and unstable star that is nearing the end of its life. Huge clouds of matter thrown out a century and a half ago, known as the Homunculus Nebula, have been a regular target for Hubble since its launch in 1990. This image, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys High Resolution Channel, is the most detailed yet. It shows how the material from the star was not thrown out in a uniform manner; rather, it forms a huge dumbbell shape.—ESA/NASA
A prototyped microscopy instrument with two polarizing beam splitters that are used to pick off portions of a beam. Fine control mechanisms allow the splitters to be precisely moved in and out of the beam path. —Richard Berman, Spectral Applied Research
Two images of the giant asteroid Vesta obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft; both taken by Dawn's framing camera in December 2011. The left image uses near-infrared filters in which red represents 750 nm, green 920 nm and blue 980 nm. The right image has colors assigned by scientists that representing different rock or mineral types. These craters are in the south polar region, which has been partly covered by landslides from the adjacent crater. —NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA
Upright and inverted multi-reflection images of a woman’s face on teacup bubbles.— Ahmet Coskun, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Seventeen-month old luminary Finn D. Brewer after an electrifying ride down a slide. His hair-raising experience in front of the afternoon sun made possible this visualization of forward-scattering. —Lee Casperson, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, U.S.A.
Kinoform Diffractive Lens
A kinoform diffractive lens is used to focus near infrared femtosecond pulses in a sapphire plate for supercontinuum generation (Opt. Express 19, 4977-4984) —Rocío Borrego Varillas, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain
Microsphere clusters of various sizes and shapes on a coverslip appear colorful due to dispersive backscattering. The photo was taken with a digital camera inside a dark room using a flash. —Serhan O. Isikman, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A.
A 22" sphere of polished glass decorates the lobby of the University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences. —Stephen Jacobs, professor emeritus, University of Arizona, Tucson, U.S.A.
A type I barium borate crystal is pumped by a continuous wave laser working at 351 nm in a single frequency regimen. In this process, a single photon is down-converted into two photons, preserving energy and momentum. —Fabian Torres, Universidad de Concepcion, Chile.
The optical activity of dextrose creates the colorful bottom picture. The colors are displayed in the places where linearly polarized light moves through varying paths of normally colorless corn syrup. Cellophane in the strips around the bottle further rotates the polarization vector. —Carlos López-Mariscal, Naval Research Labs
The images show the flow patterns due to laser light and the formation of a microbubble at the end face of the optical fiber. —Reinher Pimentel-Dominguez, Mexico.
Close-up of half waveplate for terahertz wave built by Benedikt Scherger of the Philipps University Marburg. —Christian Stein
The glitter of sunlight on Earth's oceans as seen from space. The optical signature of glitter from oceans on extrasolar planets might be detectable from Earth, thereby providing a way to search for such planets. —Photo courtesy of NASA; more information: Appl. Opt., 50(28), F39-F49 (2011).
Fun with a CCD Sensor
Image created using a monochromatic CCD sensor with a resolution of 640 X 480 pixels. It is similar to the images published in Opt. Express, 18(20), 21131-7. —Maximino Avendaño Alejo, Mexico
Fresnel Lens Lookout
A nearly full moon outshines the Makapuu Lighhouse in Waimanalu, Hawaii. The lighthouse has a hyper-radiant Fresnel lens with a 1.3-m focal length, one of the largest in the world. Makapuu roughly translates to “bulging eye.”—Dr Robert E Murphy, Scientia Consulting, LLC, Towson, Maryland
Optical Stained Glass
Optical stained glass window: transparent plastic plate located between crossed polarizers. —From the OSA Through your lens Photo contest, Véronique Zambon, Canada.
Hand of God?
Numerous crepuscular rays--which might be the shadows of the Alps mountains projected on the clouds--are seen across Neuchatel's lake (Switzerland) before sunrise on Monday, January 9, 2012. —Optics and Photonics Technology Laboratory, Gaël Osowiecki, Eric Logean and Myun-Sik Kim, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
A full spectrum for optogenetic stimulation. From OSA's Through Your Lens Photo Contest- Joël Crépeau, dcclab.ca, Canada
Glitter and Glints
Glitter and glints on water: A four-second color exposure of moon glitter on the ocean showing a plethora of closed trajectories of the glints. From Applied Optics, Vol. 50, Issue 28, David K. Lynch
Moon through a Grating
Image of a full moon taken on 22 September 2010 with a simple transmission grating in front of a camera lens. Jupiter is apparent below the moon and slightly to the right. Robert Schalck, Hardin Optical Company, U.S.A.
“What would Fischer do?” A series of reflections on optics Tommaso Baldacchini, Technology and Applications Center, Newport Corporation, Irvine, California
Light and Lithography
Fluorescence effect excited by a continuous-wave laser emitting at 325 nm into a quantum-dot-embedded polydimethylsiloxane “calice.” The microstructure was fabricated through novel 3-D lithography. The research group of the CNR-Isituto Nazionale di Ottica of Napoli, Italy
Alaska’s Susitna Glacier: Like rivers, glaciers flow downhill, with tributaries joining to form larger rivers. But where water rushes, ice crawls. As a result, glaciers gather dust and dirt, and bear long-lasting evidence of past movements. NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science
Light synthesizer in which three constituent colors of a pulse are adjusted in phase and amplitude and recombined (Wirth et al. Science Express, 8 2011). Thorsten Naeser, Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Garching, Germany
Cherenkov emission and induced phosphorescence in a glass-encased glow-in-the-dark light bulb irradiated with a linear accelerator electron beam, irradiated. Adam Glaser, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Let the Record Show
Vinyl record illuminated with white light at grazing angle of incidence. Andrew Resnick, Department of Physics, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio
A randomly bended flexible optical grating film reflects the light of a fiber coupled xenon lamp source. Dr. Zoltán György Horváth, Laser Physics Department, RISP, Budapest, Hungary
Kitchen optics: The spectrum of sunlight produced by a prism reflected off the curved edge of a polished granite countertop. The curved edge isn’t continuous but is actually composed of 45 flat planes cut lengthwise and then polished. The screen is a white refrigerator. From OPN After Image, April 1999, Steve Jacobs
A green laser beam is used to probe a thin wave cloud to determine that the colored rings around the Moon (called a lunar corona) are caused by diffraction from unusually tiny ice crystals rather than the conventionally believed liquid water droplets. From Applied Optics, Vol.50, Issue 28. Joseph A. Shaw
Live image of Diatom Arachnoidiscus under 40x magnification was obtained with video-enhanced polychromatic polscope. The brightness corresponds to retardance and color corresponds to slow axis azimuth. Michael Shribak, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Rug laser: Narrow band, yellow amplified spontaneous emission of red rug fibers, excited by the nanosecond, first harmonic green light of a Q-switched Nd-YAG laser. Dr. Zoltán György Horváth, Laser Physics Department, RISP, Budapest, Hungary
Fungia sp. (mushroom coral), natural auto fluorescent proteins around mouth (6x). From Nikon Small World competition, 2010 image of distinction. James Nicholson, NOAA NOS NCCOS Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Caustics caused by surface of the water seen while walking along a creek. The phase fluctuations on the surface transformed into intensity fluctuations over a variety of spatial scales. Krishnakumar Venkateswaran
Optical Rotary Joint
Demonstration set-up for an optical rotary joint / slipring using injection moulded collimating optics. Hans Poisel, Ohm University of Applied Sciences, Nuernberg, Germany.
One Wasp, Two Views
Wasp under ambient and coherent light illumination. Picture taken by Nelson S. Winkler, Ilyas A. Saytashev and Kristen Zuraski from the Dantus research group at Michigan State University.
Pretty in Pink: Inside the Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition, or PS-PVD, ceramic powder is introduced into the plasma flame, which vaporizes it and then condenses it to form the ceramic coating. Image Credit: NASA/Marvin G. Smith (Wyle Information Systems LLC)
Illuminating a Flower
Green laser spot acts as an additional point source to illuminate the flower from its inner wall. (The green beam from the upper left side is falling to a strongly absorbing red part in order to avoid overexposure.) Dr. Zoltán György Horváth, Laser Physics Department, RISP, Budapest, Hungary
Cacodylic acid crystals (100x). From Nikon Small World competition, 2010 image of distinction. Dr. Rong Wen, University of Miami Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida, USA
Endeavour at the Pad
Endeavour at the Pad: The space shuttle Endeavour sat on Launch Pad 39A as a storm passed prior to the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure, Thursday, April 28, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., U.S.A. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Mouse Embryo Stem Cells
Mouse embryo stem cells surrounded by trophectoderm cells (63x). From Nikon Small World competition, 2010 image of distinction. Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisúa, Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
White light is comprised of many visible wavelengths. If one or more of the wavelengths is removed by destructive interference in a thin film, we see the remaining or complementary color. For example, if blue light is subtracted from white, we see yellow. The skin of these soap bubbles glistens with the complementary colors produced by interference. From April 2000 OPN
Craspedodiscus coscinodiscus Ehrenberg (extinct marine diatom) (1440x). From Nikon Small World competition, 2010 image of distinction. Stephen Nagy, Montana Diatoms
Fuels burning in space behave differently than they do on Earth. Here, a droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity, producing soot. When a bright, uniform backlight is placed behind the droplet and flame and recorded by a video camera, the soot appears as a dark cloud. On the International Space Station, the Flame Extinguishing Experiment examines the combustion of such liquid fuel droplets. Credit: NASA
An ingenious 10-s exposure from a swinging camera recorded the gyrating trails of Regulus, the alpha star of the constellation Leo (left), and the wandering planet Mars (right). Regulus and Mars were at about the same apparent brightness on 4 June 2010. From OPN July/ August 2011 Juergen Michelberger, Lauffen, Germany
A green ring fit for a superhero: This glowing emerald nebula seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is reminiscent of the ring wielded by the Green Lantern. Astronomers believe these rings are sculpted by the powerful light of 'O' stars, the most massive type of star known. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Perfect pulses: Virtually identical sampling oscilloscope waveforms show pulses being transmitted at 5 gigabits (top) and received (bottom) after 10,000 km. Originally published in OPN, January 1993. Courtesy of ATT Bell Labs/Peter Angelo Simon
The Inclined Planes, a laser sculpture created by Washington D.C. artist Rockne Krebs, lit up the sky over Johnstown, Pa., every night from May through September 1989 to commemorate the Great Flood of 1889. Gyorgy Kepes, NEA and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Highway of Light
A long exposed shot of busy Cooper Street, Arlington, Texas. The image was captured from the Center Bridge, University of Texas at Arlington. Gokul Krishna Srinivasan, Arlington, Texas
Rainbow over Everest
A rainbow cloud dwarfs Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. The phenomenon is caused by light reflecting off tiny ice crystals inside the body of the cloud's water vapor. Oleg Bartunov, Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Moscow
One-Drop Dye Laser
Original one drop only dye laser, a precursor of the edible laser. First published in OPN in February 2005. Theodor W. Haensch, Max-Planck-Institut fur Quantenoptlk
Lasers through a Fisheye
The optical principle of perspective demonstrated by parallel lines converging to the zenith point in a fisheye image. Joseph Shaw, OSA Fellow
2009 Photo Contest Entry: Microscope image of birefringent rose printed with femtosecond laser in 1 x 1 mm square. Martynas Beresna
Rare elliptical halo captured around a lamp post in Finland. Most sun haloes are circular, and they surround the sun when sunbeams hit ice crystals in the air. Elliptical haloes are less well understood; one theory is that they are formed by hexagonal plate-shaped crystals with blunt pyramid-shaped ends. Olli Leivo, Lahti, Finland
Got a Light?
Transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana (tobacco) plant magnified 10 times. (Image originally published in OPN November 2007.) Heiti Paves, Tallinn, Estonia 5th Place, Nikon Small World Competition 2006
An object made from UV fluorescent plastics is illuminated by ultraviolet light (also known as dark light) and emits light in the visible range. (Image originally published in OPN March 2007). Andriy Rybas, V. Karazin Kharkov National University OSA Student Chapter
In the Bubble
Dual image formed by the reflection on the front and rear surface of a soap bubble. Osvaldo Buccafusca, Fort Collins, Colo., U.S.A. From OPN 2008 After Image Photo Contest. Submitted by Marko Spasenovic, FOM Institute AMOLF
Nematic Liquid Crystal
Nematic liquid crystal confined to a TEM grid (10X).OPN May 2008 After Image. Sarah Teren, department of chemical and biological engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A.
Three-wave mixing of Ti:sapphire laser pulses in a non-collinear autocorrelator. (Beams enter from lower left). Alan Bristow, West Virginia University
Spontaneous Laser Pattern
Spontaneous pattern formation in a modelocked laser containing a nonlinear crystal for second harmonic generation. The pattern forms due to the feedback of the second harmonic to the crystal. Gabrielle Thomas, Imperial College London
Bathed in Light
Image captured in the lower level at The Plaza of America, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., on a bright Sunday morning. The rainbow colors are the result of a beautiful glass arrangement in the plaza. Gokul Krishna Srinivasan, University of Texas at Arlington, U.S.A.
Curved trail following an evening rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The colors are from diffraction from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Samuel Pellicori, Santa Barbara, Calif., U.S.A., 2007 After Image Photo Contest Entry
Art created using sunlight refracted through ordinary objects, including transparent goblets, chandelier crystals and ashtrays. The photographer captured images of sunlight refracting through them onto a white surface in a dark room. George Lourake, www.intheprism.com
Holographic TDS System
Part of the holographic tissue dynamics spectroscopy system, which allows researchers to detect motion inside living cells in three dimensions. Purdue Research Foundation
World's Smallest OSA Logo
The Amsterdam Student Chapter of OSA has made the smallest OSA logo in the world. They put a eurocent in a focused ion beam and milled the logo in one of the stars that was about 50-um wide (left). Within that logo (top right), they milled the world's smallest OSA logo, about 5 um wide (bottom right). Marko Spasenovic, FOM Institute AMOLF
Messier 8 Emission Nebula
2008 Photo Contest Entry: Messier 8 Emission Nebula taken in emssion lines of sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen through an apochromatic refractor with a 6.1-megapixel-cooled CCD camera. Richard Crisp, Tessera Technologies, San Jose, Calif., U.S.A.
This photo shows an icy crown for a desert palm tree. The 22 degree halo is caused by reflection and refraction of sunlight in ice crystals making up cirrus clouds in the Arizona desert. OPN 2010 After Photo Image Contest Joseph Shaw, Montana State University
Early-morning multiple image of a flower in dewdrops hanging on a spider web. Klaus Hinsch, Institute of Physics, Oldenburg University, Rastede, Germany
Diffraction colors from water droplets in the vapor above a steaming cup of tea. Klaus D. Hinsch
A glass sphere in front of a snowy landscape produces image inversion. Osvaldo Buccafusca
Cross Diffraction by Streelight
A fluorescent street lamp viewed through a thin net curtain in a window. The lamp exhibits a "cross" diffraction pattern due to a square slit, which also shows the almost white-light spectral decomposition. This is due to a light wave from the lamp reaching the curtain tissue with a coherent area larger than that of the air squares of the curtain grid. Fernando Moreno and Manuel Nieto-Vesperinas
A collage image showing the progression of the lunar eclipse throughout the night of December 21. Joseph Shaw
Multicolored laser rings generated from a femtosecond supercontinuum fiber source and an axicon. Matthew E. Anderson, San Diego State University
Diffuse refraction at the borders of a convex lens illuminated with two diode lasers. Juan Carlos Rojas-Lopez and Dorilian Lopez-Mago, Tecnologico de Monterrey OSA-SPIE student chapter
A bit of fungus found spontaneously growing on the bottom of a sample holder, imaged with differential interference contrast microscopy. Erik Garbacik Optical Sciences group, University of Twente
Fractal reflections of colored lights and the photographer in a tetrahedron of tangent spherical mirrors. Oscar Einzig
Refracted laser light taken on a 4 x 5 transparency film using argon and helium neon lasers. Janis D. Berry
Beer Can Pinhole
A Ti:sapphire crystal in an ultrafast laser photographed with a beercan pinhole camera. Klaas Wynne, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, U.K.
Inside an Oscillator
Inside an optical parametric oscillator with intracavity frequency doubling (APE PP2), Canon EOS 350D. Wolfgang W. Langbein
A 20-in. glass sphere being polished to decorate the west wing lobby of the University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences. The work was conducted under the direction of Prof. Jose Sasian. —Stephen Jacobs, the University of Arizona
The Sun in UV
The sun in three colors of ultraviolet light. Colorful portions pinpoint the sun's hottest and most violent areas. Stanford-Lockheed Institute for Space Research, NASA
The photoemission of electrons by an attosecond light pulse (blue beam) is time-resolved by controlling the electron motion with an ultrashort visible laser pulse (red beam). This attosecond streaking uncovers that electrons from different atomic orbitals are released with a delay comparable to the atomic unit of time. Thorsten Naeser and Christian Hackenberger
Lasers and Champagne
Red and green laser pointers are incident on a crystal champagne flute. No moving parts, no just reflection and refraction! Angos McCarthy
White light playback of an on-axis hologram of an annular diffusing slit. Conventional holography provides a 3-D reconstruction of the object in laser light, while rainbow holography, introduced by Stephen Benton in 1969, allows an extended incoherent light source to be used in place of a laser. Maurizio Vannoni and Giuseppe Molesini, Istituto Nazionale di Ottica Applicata, Firenze, Italy and Stephen Jacobs, Optical Sciences Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, U.S.A.
Light reflected off morning dew droplets. Kyle R. Perry, student, Medford., Ore., U.S.A.
A water droplet images the cover of the September 2010 OPN, which was placed upside down behind running water. The shadow of the tap is visible. Ingemar Petermann, Kista, Sweden
Tape dispenser in front of a computer monitor as a light source and analyzed with a cheap cross-polarizer in front. Carlos Treviño, David Iturbe-Castillo and Sabino Chavez-Cerda, Puebla Pue, Mexico
In Earth's Shadow
On the weekend of June 26, 2010, part of the Moon moved through the Earth's shadow. This happens once or twice a year, but not each month since the Moon's orbit around the Earth is slightly tilted. Brad Riza, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
Fun with an Argon-ion and a He-Ne laser. Jeff Keyzer from San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.
Output of a femtosecond noncollinear optical-parametric amplifier projected onto a paper screen. In the center, one can see the very intense, 400-nm-wavelength pump beam. The optical-parametric generation (OPG) ring results from emission of photons at a given angle (~ 4°) with respect to the pump beam. The bright spot centered on the lower half of the OPG ring is the green part of a white-light continuum beam being amplified in the OPA process. From Frank Rutz, diploma thesis (2001). Frank Rutz Department of Molecular and Optical Physics University of Freiburg, Germany
Lasers Pierce the Sky
Three green lasers are seen emanating from facilities at the Starfire Optical Range on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Lasers and deformable optics are used here to eliminate or minimize optical distortions caused by the Earth's atmosphere. Directed Energy Directorate, US Air Force/Wikimedia Commons
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