Whats in a picture?

If it`s true that "a picture is worth a thousand words," it should come as no surprise that imaging--by which I mean acquisition, processing, and display of images--constitutes an increasingly significant part of the regular content of Laser Focus World. Imaging includes optoelectronic applications ranging from the creation and projection of pictures for entertainment to visual representations of complex data sets--sometimes called visualization. In the life sciences the complexity of samples fo

What`s in a picture?

Stephen G. Anderson

Executive Editor

[email protected]

If it`s true that "a picture is worth a thousand words," it should come as no surprise that imaging--by which I mean acquisition, processing, and display of images--constitutes an increasingly significant part of the regular content of Laser Focus World. Imaging includes optoelectronic applications ranging from the creation and projection of pictures for entertainment to visual representations of complex data sets--sometimes called visualization. In the life sciences the complexity of samples for analysis--because they may contain cells and biological molecules--means that scientists must find new ways to handle spectral information from multiple sources. Combining imaging techniques with more- established methods such as fluorescence spectroscopy has yielded some powerful analytical tools. Hyperspectral imaging spectroscopy, which can identify and quantify the relationships between biologically active molecules, is one such tool (see p. 89).

From a current practical point of view, however, the downside of the increased use of imaging is that a picture requires a significantly larger data file than does the proverbial thousand words--so the demand for more storage space and higher network bandwidths to keep and transmit these images looks to continue unabated. Wavelength-division multiplexing has opened up the capacity of existing fiberoptic networks to keep pace with these requirements and has spurred a host of research into the design and fabrication of specialized sources, such as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs; see p. 75). Wavelength-division multiplexing has also placed additional demands on the performance of the test equipment used to keep these fiberoptic networks functioning (see p. 161).

Optical telescopes represent a much older form of imaging. Next-generation instruments will be located in space--on the moon, perhaps, or on-board a satellite--to take advantage, among other factors, of being outside the effects of Earth`s atmosphere. But getting these systems into space economically is a challenge; large mirrors are heavy! A new technique for fabricating telescope mirrors could result in mirrors substantially lighter than those made by conventional means and make larger space-based optical telescopes a reality by reducing the overall size of the related payload (see p. 69).

A warm welcome

This month we introduce a new face to our technical editorial staff--John Wallace joins us as senior editor. His background includes an M.S. in optics from the University of Rochester and several years of experience designing equipment for photolithography--a combination that should serve him well at Laser Focus World.

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