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Latest Issue
Jul/Aug 2020

Photonics community moves at 'warp speed'

Reported new infections of COVID-19 have continued to ebb and flow around the world. But the need for an adaptable battery of diagnostic tests built around cutting-edge imaging that can be administered in a variety of settings — not to mention the continued study of the characteristics of the disease — has only increased over the last few months. Only a clear picture of what the infected, and their clinicians, are dealing with will provide a path to a cure.

Here in the U.S., an infusion of funding at the national level — made available to the National Institutes of Health and particularly the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) — is targeted toward the contributions of small and large companies, research institutions, and nonprofits, along with other agencies involved in developing reliable, versatile testing. Operation Warp Speed, as it is known in Washington, D.C., will involve elements of the photonics sector across the country, building on the successful Point-of-Care Technology Research Network (POCTRN) that has shared resources and data for over a dozen years. As Bruce Tromberg, director of NIBIB, points out, the hundreds of applications received for funding exploration and discovery indicate the excitement — and urgency — with which photonics researchers, designers, and manufacturers have responded.

Our COVID-19 coverage in this edition, beginning on page 16, shines a light on vital work in the biophotonics realm. Efforts include the use of imaging to gauge the side effects of touted treatments; Raman spectroscopy to identify proteins consistent with the disease; commercially available lasers to potentially kill the virus; newly developed sensors to detect its presence; strategies applied in decontaminating wastewater to combat COVID-19; and LED light to disinfect surfaces on which the virus may linger.

In “Biopinion,” Brian T. Cunningham of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign confirms that technology that can read data from across the spectrum will be at the very heart of the way scientists and clinicians look at and treat the pandemic. Read more here.

Elsewhere in our pages, Bethany Almeida, Igor L. Medintz, and James B. Delehanty explore how the use of quantum dots allows for deep resolution in a large number of cells. Learn about this work on here. Patrick Sasso and Dan Callen explain how superior lasers and optical components improve the accuracy and efficiency of flow cytometers. Find the details here.

Zibang Zhang and Guoan Zheng expound on how the use of a diffuser can allow for lensless microscopy without losing clarity or detail. Read their story here. And Brendan Brinkman illustrates how digital slide imaging can provide depth of detail while not losing sight of any piece of a specimen. Learn more here.

Enjoy the issue!
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
Robin Riley
Multimedia/Web Editor Robin Riley has 30+ years of experience in communications and marketing for a range of technical industries. She is a regular contributor to web content and social media, and organizes and produces custom and editorial webinars.
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.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
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