Laser Focus World Weekly Newscast: December 10, 2012

This week, we talk about a flicker-free, shatterproof alternative to standard fluorescent tube lighting; Trumpf’s establishment of a joint venture, and an optical fiber approach that controls the ultrasmall.

First, scientists at Wake Forest University have developed a flicker-free, shatterproof alternative to the standard fluorescent tube for large-scale lighting. Called field-induced polymer electroluminescent, or FIPEL, technology, it gives off soft white light as opposed to the yellowish color from fluorescents or the bluish tinge from many LED lamps. The FIPEL lamp relies on a nano-engineered polymer matrix that glows when stimulated by an AC field to create bright white light similar to the sunlight human eyes prefer. What’s more, it can be made in any color and any shape. Scientist David Carroll of Wake Forest sees potential uses for office and home lighting as well as large display lighting, such as store marquees to signs on buses and subway cars. The group is working with a company to manufacture the technology and plans to have it ready for consumers as early as next year. The work appears in Organic Electronics.

In business news, Trumpf has founded Trumpf Scientific Lasers, which will develop and manufacture ultrashort-pulse lasers for the scientific market based on Trumpf’s disk-laser technology. To be based in Munich, Germany, Trumpf Scientific Lasers is a joint venture with professor Ferenc Krausz of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, with Trumpf as the majority shareholder. The mission of the new venture is to expand Trumpf’s product range to include ultrashort-pulse lasers highly suited for scientific applications that are new markets for Trumpf. The company notes that it also expects the resulting interchange of ideas with the scientific world to provide leads that will help improve Trumpf's industrial disk lasers.

And finally, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have created a fiber-optic tool that can precisely twist and turn the tiniest of particles, giving scientists the ability to manipulate single cells for cancer research and twist and untwist individual strands of DNA, for instance. For the first time, using flexible optical fibers rather than stationary lasers, the tool can spin or twist microscale objects in any direction and along any axis without moving any optical component. Also, the optical fibers can be positioned inside the human body, where they can manipulate and help study specific cells or potentially guide neurons in the spinal cord. Rather than an actual physical device that wraps around a cell or other microscopic particle to apply torque, the fiber-optic wrench is created when two beams of laser light, emitted by a pair of optical fibers—strike opposite sides of the microscopic object. The researchers used their new technique to rotate and shift human smooth muscle cells without damaging them, demonstrating that the technique may have both clinical and laboratory uses. The work appears in Optics Letters.

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