Diagnostic revolution

May 1, 2007
Early life-science applications of photonics centered mostly on the therapeutic use of lasers for general surgery and ophthalmology.

Early life-science applications of photonics centered mostly on the therapeutic use of lasers for general surgery and ophthalmology. But as the field of photonics has broadened and evolved, so too has the landscape for this technology in the “bio” arena. In recent years, high-profile lab-based applications such as DNA sequencing and proteomics have tended to overshadow a less prominent but equally important revolution in disease diagnostics.

In fact, medical diagnostics is filled with significant growth opportunities for photonics. Advances in spectroscopy and imaging techniques, for instance, are changing the way diseases will be detected and medicine practiced. Near-IR spectroscopy is being applied to areas ranging from burn diagnostics to dental imaging (see page 115). Raman spectroscopy is benefiting from novel approaches that overcome some of its limitations, such as extending the path length for biological samples, and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/289272 and page 123, respectively).

And the adaptive scanning optical microscope featured in last month’s issue (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/289405), which can image live cells, has just won the 2007 PhAST/Laser Focus World Innovation Award-to be presented during the plenary session at this month’s Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) in Baltimore, MD. Congratulations to Thorlabs (Newton, NJ)!

Readers’ choices

As photonics has become increasingly sophisticated so too have our readers, especially in terms of how they use the Internet to get news and key information. Some choose digital delivery of the magazine, others prefer print; some like receiving news via e-mail, while other readers want to visit their favorite Web site. In response, we’re developing an increasingly “broadband” approach to content delivery. Regular readers will notice constant improvements, such as the new Table of Contents for online content on this page, as we strive to deliver more of the information-both online and in print-that meets your needs. Let us know if we’re succeeding by e-mailing me at [email protected].

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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