Changing views

If the concept of a rollable and foldable electronic newspaper is appealing, or a room with electronic wallpaper able to display artwork then switch to become a room-sized TV screen ("surround scene" instead of "surround sound"?), it's possible you may not have to wait many more years.

If the concept of a rollable and foldable electronic newspaper is appealing, or a room with electronic wallpaper able to display artwork then switch to become a room-sized TV screen ("surround scene" instead of "surround sound"?), it's possible you may not have to wait many more years. Display technology is changing fast and even as some of us are still grappling with upgrading from CRTs to flat-panel monitors, another generation of displays is already on the horizon. Thin flexible displays—in which (among other technologies) organic light-emitting diodes are fabricated on transparent plastic or metallic foils—will open up an entirely new set of applications and markets, including perhaps the electronic newspaper. These devices are already moving from the research stage into pre-commercial development. What is claimed to be the world's thinnest flexible active-matrix display is shown on this month's cover and you can read more about flexible-display technology and its potential on page 65.

At the other end of the imaging chain—capturing the images—developments are no less exciting. On the macro level, spy satellite technology, for example, involves imaging at both infrared and visible wavelengths. In the United States, next-generation space-based IR surveillance satellites are expected to provide warning of missile launches as well as track missiles and guide missile-defense systems, while visible imagery delivers increasingly detailed pictures of battlefields or other areas or interest (see p. 99).

Meanwhile, at the micro level, optical imaging in a variety of guises is achieving unprecedented spatial resolution—on the order of a few microns—to deliver biomedical images with the potential to revolutionize the way we can see and study what's happening at a cellular and molecular level in living organisms. A novel fiber-based confocal microscopy technique, for instance, allows in-vivo imaging of microstructures such as cells and microvessels at up to 100 µm below the tissue surface and without damaging any tissue. And in another example, fluorescence molecular tomography can detect nanomolar concentrations of fluorochromes at spatial resolutions of 1 to 2 mm in the case of small animals at penetration depths of several centimeters in the near-IR. The effect that these and other imaging techniques are having on our view of the biological world are detailed in a special biomedical imaging supplement, which follows page 76.

Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
[email protected]

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