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Of Microscopy and Dust Motes: Our Quotable Year

Karen A. Newman, karen.newman@photonics.com

2012 was another year of optimism and advancement in biophotonics. Comments from our pages made by just a few of the year’s news makers illustrate the field’s development and the sparks of inspiration that ignited some of those discoveries: “This field was nonexistent before 1984. That’s when we discovered you could use the colors of light to detect cancer. When you shine a little light on the tissue, it glows.”
Robert Alfano, Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award winner and distinguished professor of physics, City College of New York

“With bio-inspired designs, biology is a metaphor, and robotics is the tool to make it happen. With bio-integrated designs, biology provides the materials, not just the metaphor. This is a new direction we’re pushing in biorobotics.”
Harry Asada, engineering professor, MIT

“I got my first laser in late 1990 – an Nd:YAG. There were about three dozen of us [exploring dental applications of lasers] back then, and we were all excited. It was a career-changing technology.”
Donald J. Coluzzi, DDS, associate clinical professor, department of preventive and restorative dental sciences, UCSF School of Dentistry

“This technology is still in its infancy. We took an important step beyond Lihong Wang’s original demonstration of TRUE by implementing a TRUE technique that is effectively unlimited in terms of its ability to deliver arbitrarily high power to the focused spot.”
Changhuei Yang, professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering, Caltech

“We believe that our work shows that optical nanoantennas could serve as integral components in potential lab-on-chip devices. The basic idea is to use nanoantennas to augment the optical forces on objects in aqueous environments. This will considerably relax the requirements on the optics used for such experiments.”
Kimani Toussaint Jr., assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“The basic idea [a light-controlled chemical ‘switch’], which has in principle been shown to work in animal models, is to confer light sensitivity on surviving neurons in the eye that do not normally respond to light.”
Dirk Trauner, biology professor, Ludwig Maximilian University

“One of my hopes is that we can use this technology [multiwaveguide probe] to test detailed theories of the neural codes utilized by the brain. Say that we could stimulate a set of neurons with a realistic pattern of activity: We could try to figure out whether that realistic pattern of activity actually drives a particular perception, action or behavior.”
Ed Boyden, professor, MIT Media Lab

“I was watching [Itzhak] Perlman play and, suddenly, I wondered what would happen if a particle of dust landed on one of the strings.”
Stephen Arnold, applied physics professor, NYU-Poly

Wishing you wonder and inspiration in the coming year. Enjoy the issue.


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