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LEDs and Lasers Battle for Dominance in Brain Research

BioPhotonics
Oct 2016
Small but generally less powerful, or plenty of power but costly; the fight between LEDs and lasers in optogenetics intensifies.

MARIE FREEBODY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, marie.freebody@photonics.com

Small but generally less powerful, or plenty of power but costly; the fight between LEDs and lasers in optogenetics intensifies. Lighting up the brain to better understand, treat or even cure brain disorders has become an established field known as optogenetics. Today it is one of the most promising tools making contributions to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative — part of a new federal focus aimed at producing a dynamic picture of the brain.

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GLOSSARY
optogenetics
A discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, which have been genetically modified to respond to light. Only the cells that have been modified to include light-sensitive proteins will be under control of the light. The ability to selectively target cells gives researchers precise control. Using light to control the excitation, inhibition and signaling pathways of specific cells or groups of cells...
diode-pumped solid-state laser
A compact solid-state laser, referred to as DPSSL, created when a laser diode pumps light into either the sides or end of gain crystal. Depending on where the pumping occurs, high-quality and stable output beams can be achieved with end-pumped lasers, and high-power output beams can be realized as with side-pumped lasers. Common in green laser pointers, DPSSLs are also used for a variety of materials processing applications, such as cutting and precision marking, and in optogenetics.
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