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BioPhotonics is the global resource for research, business and product news and information for the biophotonics community and the industry's only stand-alone print and digital magazine. Stay current with a FREE subscription, and expand your knowledge of light and the life sciences through our extensive, industry-specific archives.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
Jul/Aug 2022

LEDs light a path to diagnosis

DOUGLAS FARMER, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, causing nearly 18 million deaths in 2019 alone, according to the World Health Organization. The vast majority of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, indicating the need for a point-of-care diagnostic method capable of adapting to resource-limited clinical settings. Because of the ability of photoacoustic imaging to capture detail from deep within vasculature, the technique provides an ideal solution — especially given the availability of light-emitting diode (LED)-based illumination sources, which, thanks to recent advancements, are more portable, affordable, and energy efficient than ever before.

In photoacoustic imaging, short light pulses in the near- to far-infrared wavelength range are shined on tissue and absorbed by chromophores, resulting in thermoelastic expansion that produces ultrasound signals. These signals reveal details such as oxygen saturation levels, which can indicate cancer or its progression. Historically, the heavy, bulky laser systems used in photoacoustic imaging have hindered the technique’s usability in low-resource or cramped settings.

Now, LED arrays that provide pulsed light are being adapted for photoacoustic imaging, as Mithun Kuniyil Ajith Singh and Naoto Sato explain in our cover story. Additionally, the development of LED elements with double-stack structures has helped to overcome power limitations that, up to this point, have led to the continued choice of laser illumination over LEDs. Read more about what the future holds for this technology here.

LED arrays are also playing a prominent role in enhancing wearable optical technology. I write in another feature story that, by incorporating flexible sensors and other components, the capabilities of wearables are expected to move beyond capturing basic health data such as heart rate and into more advanced areas, including tracking levels of glucose and protein, monitoring neural activity, and helping to gauge the effectiveness of various therapies. Learn here about the advancements currently making their way into a clinical trial.

Elsewhere in this edition, here, Karina Weber and Jürgen Popp write that Raman spectroscopy is reaching its full potential when used in conjunction with artificial intelligence, enabling the noninvasive characterization of samples and the specific identification of diseased cells in real time.

Rob Morris writes in a feature that spectroscopy has a whole host of applications in environmental analysis, including the monitoring of spectral data in lakes and rivers to ascertain the existence or absence of various aquatic species and harmful agents. Find out here which technologies are being used to keep our waterways healthy.

Finally, in “Biopinion,” Steven Le offers the view that new methodologies are needed to track the safety of the increasing number of biopharmaceuticals being produced. Although light obscuration — in which light particles are passed between a light source and a detector — has been used by the industry for many years, its requirement for a large volume of samples negates its usefulness at the early stages of treatment. Le believes that the FDA needs to consider the use of new technologies, such as fluorescence membrane microscopy — in which drug particles are filtered through a membrane — to ensure the safety of patients. Read about what he has to say 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.
 
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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