December 2011

Optics in 2011

Panel Chair: R.D. Guenther; Guest Editors: J. Dawes, C. Lopez-Mariscal, B. Jopson, E. Silaeva and J. Zavislan

This special issue of OPN highlights the most exciting peer-reviewed optics research to have emerged over the past 12 months.


The diffusion of light allows biologists to study tissue at various depths below the surface of a person’s skin. One novel development is the construction of a biological laser from a single cell.


A key component in any optical system is the detector that is used to transform light into a measurement.


Microstructured optical fibers constitute a versatile platform for developing novel optofluidic, sensing and actuating devices—bringing together photonics and microfluidics.


Spectral imaging is particularly important in the biosciences. Raman scattering provides unique spectral signatures that can be used in the study of cell chemistry.


A key optical tool for metrology allows us to use a ruler calibrated in wavelengths of light.

Nonlinear Optics

Nonlinear optics allows us to generate sources in new spectral regions and to provide increased signal propagation capability.

Photonic Structures

We have learned how to construct ordered index-of-refraction-modulated structures that allow us to control the propagation of light. Initially, researchers were simply interested in fabrication; now they are exploring limitations in the structures.


Surface plasmons have the unique capacity to confine light to very small dimensions, but the losses that occur when they propagate have limited their utility.

Quantum Optics

Exciting work is being done in quantum information theory and the detection of low light levels.


The atmosphere is nearly opaque at wavelengths from the far-infrared to the millimeter wave, but there are applications that work around this restriction.

Transformation Optics

A new design concept for optical devices comes from the mathematical view of space-time in general relativity. The desired optical path is determined by coordinate transformations.

Ultrafast Optics

Techniques that use optical pulses extending from the picosecond to the attosecond have become an important adjunct to nanoscale science.

3-D Recording and Display

The display of 3-D objects has always been fascinating. Recent research explores new possibilities in holographic imaging and 3-D television.

BiFeO3 Domains May Improve Solar Cells

Two-Color STED Helps Unravel Protein Interactions

Microscopy without Lenses

Blending Beams of Light and Plasma in Real Time

The Evolution of Coded-Aperture Spectroscopy

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