Photonics makes room at the bottom

Sept. 14, 2016
In physicist Richard Feynman's famous 1959 lecture at Caltech, "There's plenty of room at the bottom," he introduced a new field of physics and helped launch the "nano" revolution.
Conard Holton2 5f3bf33c7d268

In physicist Richard Feynman's famous 1959 lecture at Caltech, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" (see http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html), he introduced a new field of physics and helped launch the "nano" revolution. A precise definition of nanotechnology may be subject to debate, but that revolution has fully engulfed photonics. For just a taste of this vast world, read our OSA Future Optics interview this issue with Michal Lipson, professor at Columbia University. She describes the advantages of working on the nanoscale and how silicon photonics can enable interesting new phenomena by localizing light within a few nanometers (see page 26).

The impact of nanoscale technology is apparent in several other features this issue. Gregg Fales and colleagues at Edmund Optics introduce us to random antireflective (RAR) nanotextures that can improve performance in laser optics (see page 41). John Wingerd at Siskiyou describes micromanipulators that exert nanoscale forces to allow measurements of single cells and are enabling advances in optical instrumentation for heart disease research (see page 45). And senior editor John Wallace writes about high-resolution microscopes paired with Raman spectrometers for characterizing molecular structures, including those of carbon nanomaterials such as graphene and fullerenes (see page 33).

Photonics technology is clearly taking advantage of nanoscale structures and opening up new views of the world at the nanoscale. We will explore the practical side of designing, manufacturing, and integrating optical systems that enable this technology as part of our new Optical Engineering Exchange, which we will be officially launching in October and highlighting at OSA's Frontiers in Optics meeting in Rochester (October 17-21). In the coming months, you will hear much more about this resource for all scales of optical engineering challenges that you may face.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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