Photonics Variety Spices Up the Sciences
The British science historian Jacob Bronowski once pointed out that where Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated with nature’s “variety, its infinite adaptability, the fitness and the individuality of all its parts,” Isaac Newton, in contrast, found great pleasure in astronomy because of “its unity, its singleness, its model of a nature in which the diversified parts were mere disguises for the same blank atoms.” However, despite his affinity for unity, Newton would doubtlessly be impressed with the variety of photonics technologies for which his theories on light laid the foundation in the 17th century. And that diversity is on display in this issue of BioPhotonics.
As science writer Valerie Coffey demonstrates in her cover article, “Beyond OCT: New Interferometric Imaging Techniques in Biomedicine,” (read article), recent years have seen the emergence of a wealth of optical coherence tomography (OCT) variations. As she explains, there’s full-field OCT, spectroscopic OCT, confocal Raman spectroscopy OCT, as well as interferometric synthetic aperture microscopy. Each variation promises to enhance doctors’ abilities to help patients retain the flavor, or zest, in their lives. Likewise, in my feature article, “Next-Generation Stereo Endoscopes are Opening Surgeons’ Eyes,” (read article), we see how researchers, such as those at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Visionsense Corp., have developed varying methods for developing stereoscopic endoscopes with just one optical channel.
Ryan Spitler, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., also highlights in his article, “Low-Level Light Therapy Is Still Looking for — and Finding — Clinical Inroads,” (read article), the growing list of therapeutic applications for lasers and LEDs. And lastly, in his article (read article), “Procedures Hinge on Nonlaser Light Sources’ Optimal Spatial Intensity Distribution,” Kevin Kirkham of Ophir-Spiricon LLC details the hazards of introducing unwanted variation in the spatial intensity distribution of nonlaser light sources and the importance of evaluating them with laser beam profiling systems.
It is no accident or coincidence that there is so much variation in the biophotonics industry. This variation is the result of strategic and substantial investments in research and development (R&D) made by companies. Recognizing that the industry’s future hinges on such investments, BioPhotonics in this issue is debuting a column called “The Pipeline,” which will provide a quarterly look at the R&D spending behind the next generation of biophotonics products. For “The Pipeline,” Photonics Media is following key R&D metrics for 20 publicly traded biophotonics-related companies. The core criteria used to select these companies include a listing in Photonics Media’s Photonics Buyer’s Guide; their development of biophotonics-related products; a listing on the Nasdaq or NYSE; market capitalization; and whether the company regularly reports R&D expense data on a quarterly and annual basis. “The Pipeline,” aims to help our readers understand the business trends that directly or indirectly impact their work or the biophotonics equipment they currently — or will one day — use.
We hope you enjoy the issue.
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