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Optics in Energy, Alzheimer's, Physics Apps OSA 90thTopics
Aug 2006
Optics solutions to the energy problem and Alzheimer's disease and the implication of optical science for collision physics will be topics of presenters at Frontiers in Optics 2006.

Frontiers in Optics 2006 and Laser Science XXII unite the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the American Physical Society (APS) communities for five days of presentations, speakers and special events. As in recent years, Frontiers in Optics will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of OSA, which will also feature the FiO 2006 Conference, offering a variety of short courses and an exhibition (Oct. 10-11) by leading optics companies. Laser Science XXII serves as the annual meeting of the APS's Division of Laser Science and provides a forum for the latest work on laser applications and development, spanning topics in physics, biology and chemistry.

Plenary speakers will include Steven Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford University. Professor Chu's research is primarily in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer physics and biophysics. He will describe the global energy problem, with an emphasis on climate change, including current options and some areas of energy research that may lead to transforming technologies.

Chu's thesis and postdoctoral work was the observation of parity nonconservation in atomic transitions. While at Bell Laboratories, he and Allen Mills did the first laser spectroscopy of positronium and muonium. Chu led a group that showed how to first cool and then trap atoms with light. The "optical tweezers" trap is also widely used in biology.

Other contributions include the demonstration of the magneto-optic trap, the theory of laser cooling (also by Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and Jean Dalibard), the first atomic fountain and precision atom interferometry based on optical pulses of light. Using the optical tweezers, Chu introduced methods to simultaneously visualize and manipulate single biomolecules in 1990. His group is also applying methods such as fluorescence energy transfer, optical tweezers and atomic force microscope methods to study the biology at the single molecule level.

Chu was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics with William Phillips and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji in 1997. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Sinica, and is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Korean Academy of Science and Engineering. He co-chairs an InterAcademy Council (representing over 60 science academies around the world) studying transitioning to sustainable energy systems.

"Optics Meets Alzheimer's Disease: Seeing the Way to a Cure," will be the topic of Lee E. Goldstein, assistant professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; director of the Molecular Aging & Development Laboratory and associate director of the Center for Ophthalmic Research at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston; and senior research scientist, Genetics & Aging Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Research over the past two decades has produced a detailed molecular understanding of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that has led to the development of hundreds of emerging therapies. However, efficient testing and effective clinical use of these new treatments require development of early diagnostic technology that is capable of detecting and tracking the disease process before the onset of cognitive symptoms and irreparable brain damage, Goldstein said. He will discuss the use of noninvasive bio-optical laser technology and its potential to provide an important platform for early detection of the AD process. He will also explore a new paradigm that links early molecular diagnosis with early therapeutic intervention that holds promise for effective treatment of AD.

Goldstein's research is focused on understanding the role of abnormal protein aggregation in chronic degenerative disorders of aging. The work in his laboratory concentrates on AD, age-related cataracts and other diseases that involve pathogenic protein aggregation. His laboratory recently discovered the first evidence of Alzheimer's disease-associated amyloid pathology outside the brain, a finding that is leading toward development of novel noninvasive early diagnostic technology. His research team recently discovered a new transcription factor that plays a crucial role in cellular differentiation within the lens and the brain.

Paul B. Corkum, group leader of the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Science Group at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), will present "Mapping Attosecond Science onto Electron Interfermometry," as the recipient of the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize, awarded by the Division of Laser Science of the American Physical Society for his contributions to the development of ultrasoft, intense laser-field science, including his development of the recollision model for laser-matter interactions and his leadership in the emerging field of attosecond laser science.

Attosecond technology is a synthesis of optical and collision science that arises naturally when intense laser light illuminates atoms or molecules. Corkum will discuss optical science and its implications for collision physics. He will describe how electron interferomety can be used to image molecular orbitals and to measure both the spatial and temporal properties of attosecond pulses.

Corkum is best known for introducing many of the concepts of how intense light pulses interact with atoms and molecules then confirming them experimentally. His experiments were among the first to measure attosecond optical and electron pulses and the first to use them for scientific studies.

"Femtosecond Optics: More Than Just Really Fast," will the the topic of Erich P. Ippen, winner of OSA's Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment, the highest award conferred by the society. Ippen is being awarded for "laying the foundations of ultrafast science and engineering and providing vision and sustained leadership to the optics community," OSA said. Advances in ultrafast optics have created new capabilities for applications such as optical clocks, medical imaging, micromachining and communications. Many of these applications rely not on ultrahigh speed but benefit from the ultrawide bandwidths, low temporal coherence or high peak powers of ultrashort light pulses. Ippen will briefly describe the femtosecond laser technology that makes all of these possible.

Ippen is a professor of electrical engineering and of physics at MIT. At Bell Labs in the mid 1970s, he and Charles Shank produced the first pulses of light shorter than 1 psec and carried out the first femtosecond experiments in molecules, semiconductors and biological complexes. With his students at MIT, Ippen has continued to advance femtosecond science and technology, decreasing pulse durations to less than two cycles, studying ultrafast phenomena in materials, and developing compact short-pulse lasers and fiber optic devices for optical communication and signal processing.

For more information, visit:

AlzheimersAmerican Physical SocietyAPSBasic Sciencecollision physicsCommunicationsenergylensesMicroscopyOptical ScienceOptical Society of AmericaopticsOSA

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