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New Frontiers in Spectroscopy

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This month’s issue should prove a treat to history buffs and futurists alike.

In a special section focusing on spectroscopy (read article), we chart the major contributions to the field over the past 500 years, beginning with Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery that the sun’s light could be dispersed into a continuous series of colors using an instrument he invented — now called the spectroscope. It’s unlikely, however, that Newton could have envisioned the impact spectroscopy is having on biomedicine today.

In an exclusive interview with senior editor Justine Murphy (read article), distinguished professor Robert Alfano and research associate Lingyan Shi, both of The City College of New York’s Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers, explain how the discovery of the “magic” 532-nm wavelength in Raman scattering, second-harmonic generation and two-photon excitation is yielding groundbreaking insights into the progression of cancer, and offering unprecedented findings on diseases of the brain.

And the best is yet to come.

Since the debut of the first compact photonic explorer (CPE) a decade ago, designed to image inside the body using spectroscopy, advances in CMOS detectors and microprocessors are paving the way for the smaller, more sophisticated CPEs of tomorrow. Alfano says these millimeter-scale robots could one day travel throughout the human body diagnosing cancer and transferring information wirelessly to computers.

Also in this issue, I get behind the wheel — figuratively — for an overview of head-up display (HUD) systems in cars. Displays have evolved significantly from the bulky in-console units of only a few years ago. Thanks to new projection technologies and advances in optics, “augmented reality” HUD systems, which put navigation and collision avoidance information on the windscreen as part of the driving experience, are set to debut commercially in 2018. (read article).

Contributing editor Hank Hogan explores advances in one of the hottest fields today:

3D printing. Better processing methods, the creation of industry standards, continued lower costs and better performance are moving 3D printing from prototyping to commercialization, especially in medical and aerospace applications (read article).

We round out the issue with a look at laser confocal microscopy for quantifying surface roughness, (read article); selecting tunable light sources for spectroscopy applications, (read article); and spectrophotometry for measuring the reflectance properties of thin-glass films, (read article).

Join us as we dive deeper into the aforementioned photonics technologies and their applications to see how they are reshaping the world in which we live.

Photonics Spectra
Feb 2016
Study of the reflection or transmission properties of specimens as a function of wavelength.
EditorialCMOSCPECity College of New YorkHUDHank Hogan3d printingspectrophotometryDr. Robert AlfanoLingyan Shiultrafast spectroscopylasersIsaac Newtoncompact photonic explorer

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