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Latest Issue
Oct 2016

Power, Price and Portability

Power is not everything. If it costs too much, too few may wield it. And if it restricts freedom, it will only be tolerated for so long. This is especially true in the years-old competition between lasers and LEDs. These photonics technologies have vied to be light sources in many applications, and brain research is emerging to be a major battleground for them. Over the years, LEDs have relied on their low price to make up for their lack of power, which is lasers’ forte. While LEDs’ low cost has gotten them far and their power is increasing, it has not come far enough to oust lasers in fields such as optogenetics and diagnostics, particularly when it’s acceptable for test subjects to be restrained. However, as two feature articles in this month’s issue highlight, the introduction of portability, namely in the form of test subjects’ ability to freely move around, could help balance LEDs’ power-price dynamic.

James SchlettIn “LEDs and Lasers Battle for Dominance in Brain Research,” (read article), contributing editor Marie Freebody examines how LEDs are gaining ground in optogenetics not only because they are cheap but also because of their flexibility. LEDs can be implanted into tissue and their light delivery can be wirelessly controlled, enabling the observation of neural circuits of freely moving and interacting mice. Similarly, Arthur DiMartino of TechEn in “Near-Infrared Spectroscopy: Delving Deeper in the Brain,” (read article), describes how LEDs are driving down the costs of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) brain monitoring systems while also advancing researchers’ understanding of seniors’ and children’s cognition, and mobility of children through the use of wireless NIRS headbands. With these trends, in part spurred by LEDs, he says, “From daily fitness monitors to continuous medical brain monitors, NIRS technology in everyday devices will matter, and will be transformative for years to come.”

Other articles in this issue include:

• “Nonlinear Microscopy Moves Into the Operating Room,” by Thomas Hellerer, Christoph Polzer and Mojtaba Mohseni at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, (read article); and

• “Swept Source OCT Takes Optical Medical Imaging to the Next Level,” by Wolfgang Drexler at the Medical University of Vienna, and Michael Minneman and Jason Ensher of Insight Photonic Solutions, (read article).

We hope that you enjoy this issue.
Karen Newman Group Publisher Karen Newman has had a career in business-to-business and association publishing, much of it spent covering technical, scientific and life sciences subjects.
Mike Wheeler Michael D. Wheeler is managing editor of Photonics Spectra and EuroPhotonics. In addition, he is responsible for the editorial direction of BioPhotonics and Industrial Photonics.
Justine Murphy Senior Editor Justine Murphy is a multiple award-winning journalist who brings more than 15 years of experience to her role at Photonics Media.
James Schlett James Schlett is the editor of BioPhotonics and Industrial Photonics. He is also an author and award-winning business reporter.
Hank Hogan Contributing editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. Hogan worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody Contributing editor Marie Freebody is a free-lance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Valerie Coffey Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
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