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Optimal Conditions, Great Viewing

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2016

Nestled in the Andes mountain range in the Atacama Desert in Chile sits the Las Campanas Observatory. At an elevation of almost 8,000 feet, the remote location is prized for its dark skies, excellent weather and superior visibility. Soon it will be home to the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) now under construction.

The GMT promises researchers an unprecedented view into the cosmos — peering back to a time not long after the Big Bang when the first stars, galaxies and black holes were formed. In addition to some of the most advanced optics ever produced, the telescope features a revolutionary adaptive optics system with six sodium laser beacons that, when used in conjunction with natural stars, will produce diffraction-limited images in the near- and mid-IR of never-before-seen resolution. For details, read Antonin Bouchez’s “A High-Resolution View of the Universe” (read article).

From the mysteries of the universe, we turn to secrets of the brain. While filtered lamps and LEDs have their place in the burgeoning field of optogenetics, lasers — specifically femtosecond lasers — offer the rare combination of spatial selectivity, high brightness and the capability of exciting multiphoton processes. Don’t miss, “Femtosecond Lasers Power New Approaches in Optogenetics,” by Coherent’s Darryl McCoy and Marco Arrigoni, (read article).

From new frontiers in medicine and astronomy, we also examine the innovative optical materials set to displace existing technologies in the years ahead. Learn more about the latest advances in nanotubes, metamaterials and super-black coating in Marie Freebody’s “Optical Materials of Tomorrow,” (read article).

Also in this issue:

• Manijeh Razeghi and colleagues from the Center for Quantum Devices at Northwestern University share specifics of a widely tunable, monolithically integrated mid-IR semiconductor laser operating at room temperature in “Quantum Cascade Laser Breakthrough for Advanced Remote Detection,” (read article).

• Clever innovation and disciplined engineering are helping create better, smaller and less expensive flow cytometers. See Giacomo Vacca’s “In Vitro Diagnostics, Immunology Spurring Advances in Flow Cytometry,” (read article).

• In “From Masers to Lasers in Space — and at the Cinema!,” Senior Editor Justine Murphy surveys the laser’s use in consumer electronics, telecommunications, industry and science, (read article).

We hope you enjoy the issue!

The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
astronomyFiltersMichael D. WheeleropticsGMTEditorial

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