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Latest Issue
Mar/Apr 2021

Z-splitter prism achieves resolution deep in sample

DOUGLAS FARMER, SENIOR EDITORHistorically, when scientists and clinicians looked through a traditional microscope, they saw only a thin 2D plane of a sample. This was unhelpful for understanding complex cellular processes or the relationships that various systems had to each other. While it was possible to cast various wavelengths of light deep into brain tissue, for example, researchers had to contend with the shallow and deep elements within the tissue contrasting and causing blur. So it is welcome news that a team of researchers from Boston University developed a technique that can simultaneously acquire images at various depths using a standard microscope. The method is based on a z-splitter prism. The prism splits the light into several paths, with increasing optical path delay to the sensor. The paths are then captured by a camera — without any overlap and in a single shot.

In our cover story for this issue, Sheng Xiao writes that — with the aid of a method called extended-volume 3D deconvolution — an algorithm takes blur into account, resulting in higher contrast and stronger resolution. In the future, not only could this technique identify the content of tissue, but it could also record fast-moving processes such as neural activity. Read more about these exciting developments.

Also in this issue, on the subject of capturing quality information at depth, Jakub Pospisil, Thomas Huser, and Judith Heidelin elaborate on developments in superresolution microscopy. Machine learning and image restoration are aiding in obtaining 3D images with cellular resolution. The authors explore the converging technologies that are making this happen.

Thomas Rasmussen writes that the door is opening for disease detection on many levels, through the use of diode array spectrometers. While filter-based instruments can only detect one wavelength, systems designed around a diode array spectrometer can use multiple wavelengths, allowing for the identification of many viruses and diseases. Find out about the advancements that companies are working on in this field.

In Biopinion, Jeff Harford covers how fluorescence is helping to guide modern therapeutics to new levels of effectiveness in the area of disease detection. NIR allows for high signal versus background, he writes, so that protein expression is accurate, regardless of the subtlety of the detection. Clinicians are missing out on the value of this method, he argues here.

Shifting the focus to the broader environment, Rob Morris and Yvette Mattley discuss the use of spectrometry and sensing devices to revolutionize the farm-to-table process — in the field, as produce is sorted, when it is transported, or anywhere in between. To maximize harvests, real-time measurements of factors such as browning in apples can allow farmers to make valuable adjustments before produce hits the shelves to be purchased by a consumer. Read about these technologies that are becoming integral to farming equipment and sorting lines.

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.
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
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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