Enabler in chief

Oct. 1, 2012
Photonics is often described as a critical enabling technology and evidence is ample to support that contention. In this issue, two articles illustrate the research value of spectroscopy.
Conard Holton2

Photonics is often described as a critical enabling technology and evidence is ample to support that contention. In this issue, two articles illustrate the research value of spectroscopy: In one, a femtosecond laser is used to measure atmospheric-radical traces in Antarctica (page 20); in another, a spectrometer aboard NASA’s lunar orbiter makes the first spectroscopic observations of helium in the Moon’s atmosphere (page 32). Closer to home, our cover story details the emergence and commercialization of semiconductor chip-based resonant spectroscopy technology, which may greatly lower the cost of spectrometers and make the technology commonplace (page 35).

Such technology developments illustrate the claim that photonics is an enabling technology for research and sensing applications. But the reach of photonics is far greater and the evidence is in our features on four very diverse topics: genomics, data storage, biofuels, and industrial machining.

Genomics has benefited enormously from the widespread use of laser-induced fluorescence for sequencing and, according to the Photonic Frontiers article by contributing editor Jeff Hecht, will benefit even more in the future (page 49). Data storage capacity will continue to “densify” with the emergence of new holographic, near-field, and laser-assisted magnetic recording technologies, writes senior editor Gail Overton (page 39).

Biofuels to replace conventional fossil fuels can be made more economic by processes that incorporate optofluidic technology, reported by researchers at the University of Toronto (page 43). And higher-quality parts of many types will result from the use of picosecond lasers to make fine, clean cuts during processing, says an article from the Microsystems Division of IPG Photonics (page 57).

The diversity of these fields now reliant on photonics is truly astonishing and the articles are engaging and inspiring to read, at least for a skeptical journalist and editor in chief like me.

Sponsored Recommendations

Melles Griot® XPLAN™ CCG Lens Series

March 19, 2024
IDEX Health & Science sets a new standard with our Melles Griot® XPLAN™ CCG Lens Series fluorescence microscope imaging systems. Access superior-quality optics with off-the-shelf...

Spatial Biology

March 19, 2024
Spatial Biology refers to the field that integrates spatial information into biological research, allowing for the study of biological systems in their native spatial context....

Fluorescent Protein Optical Imaging Considerations

March 19, 2024
What factors should you consider when your incorporate fluorescent proteins in an optical imaging application? Learn more.

Custom-Engineered Optical Solutions for Your Application

March 19, 2024
We combine advanced optical design and manufacturing technology, with decades of experience in critical applications, to take you from first designs to ongoing marketplace success...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!