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Biophotonics Rising

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

When BioPhotonics International magazine launched in 1994, then-publisher Wendy A. Laurin wrote, “As you look through this first issue, we hope you will share our sense of awe at the increasing number of ways that photonic technology is becoming an integral part of the medical and biophotonic scene.” And that was before the first now-ubiquitous smartphones rolled off the assembly line, and long before their cameras were put into service as diagnostic devices – but it was only 19 years ago!

Compare that to the time it took to get electric light into even 50 percent of US homes after Thomas Edison founded The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York in 1886. Fifty years later, most Americans were still using gas lamps and candles to light their homes.

The progress in biophotonics over the past 19 years is awe-inspiring, and the talented people in this industry continue to illuminate the way forward. The finalists have been named in the 2013 Photonics Prism Awards, the annual recognition event we are proud to co-sponsor with SPIE. Three companies have been nominated in the Life Sciences and Biophotonics category, and several other finalists’ products have bio-related applications. Read more about these companies, their products and the finalists in all the categories beginning on page 38. Award crystals will be presented at a dinner held during Photonics West in early February.

But it isn’t just about awards. “Biophotonics is an interesting market for many reasons, both technologically and for its market diversification and market size potential,” said Carlos Lee, director general of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), in an interview for the January issue of Photonics Spectra.

Other experts echo Lee’s sentiment, saying life sciences applications are one of the strongest growth areas in an otherwise sluggish economy and that anything that can help reduce the cost of delivering high-quality health care will have a big impact on the economy. The prospects are exciting.

As 2012 rolled to a rather dramatic close, we learned of the latest smartphone adaptation: A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. And in the opening days of 2013, there was news that BioPhotas Inc.’s patented biophotonic medical device Celluma has received FDA clearance for treatment of acne; muscle and joint pain; muscle spasms; arthritis; muscle and joint stiffness; and compromised local blood circulation.

In addition, KLOX Technologies Inc., announced that it has the necessary authorizations from Health Canada to launch two investigational studies of its KLOX Biophotonic System for the treatment of chronic venous leg and pressure ulcers.

In this issue, we examine the market for biophotonics in dentistry, including the use of OCT for assessing the depth and internal structure of tooth decay, and the use of lasers for both dental diagnostic and surgical procedures.

In our cover story, Dr. Daniel Fried of the University of California, San Francisco, says the nature of dental decay has changed over the years thanks to the introduction of fluoride, and old diagnostic and treatment procedures no longer apply. Read the article “Polarization-Sensitive OCT Monitors Tooth Decay,” beginning on page 24.

BioPhotonics magazine’s managing editor, Laura S. Marshall, presents a Q&A with dental laser experts that shines some light on the market’s growth potential. Read “Dental Laser Market Shows No Signs of Decay,” beginning on page 28.

Also in this issue, news editor Gary Boas brings us up to speed on how coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy is overcoming challenges on the path to commercialization. In “CARS is Finding its Niche,” Boas writes that development for commercial applications beyond lipid imaging has been complicated by two big challenges: cost and sensitivity. Read the article beginning on page 31.

As always, I invite you to let me know how you like the issue at


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