A delighted and "very overwhelmed" Kendra Stitt Robins (holding check, at right), Founder and Exective Director of Project Night Night, accepts a donation from Christof Fark on behalf of Schott Glass on the final afternoon of the exhibition. Schott adapted its long tradition of shot-glass giveaways by adding the International Year of Light logo to this year's design as well as requesting a $1 donation for each give-away, with the proceeds and a match from Schott going to a designated not-for-profit agency in the local area. Based in San Francisco, Project Night Night provides "Night Night Packages" including a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children's book, and a stuffed animal, free of charge, to homeless children from birth to pre-teen to help them "feel secure, cozy, ready to learn, and significant." (Video of the presentation [1:39]).

SPIE Photonics West 2015 was bigger, busier, and more vibrant than ever. Total registered attendance exceeded 21,000, topping the previous record set last year. The Photonics West Exhibition (above) was busy well into the last day with potential buyers, browsers, and partners visiting booths of 1,265 exhibiting companies.

Matt Muller of Swept Image, Inc., pitches the SweptVue 3D Microscope Adapter at Thursday's Startup Alley, a chance for attendees to meet one-on-one with entrepreneurs who pitched their new photonics businesses in this year's Startup Challenge. Aspiring entrepreneurs displayed prototypes with those wishing to explore potential partnerships, investment, or sales.

Talks were still going strong in the conference rooms on Thursday. For one, the Aydogan Ozcan Research Group at UCLA has been developing miniaturized, cost-effective scientific tools for several years now. Among other things, they have developed several labs-on-a-chip and miniaturized lens-free and fluorescence-based devices.

Group member Steve Feng presented their recent success in using Google Glass for the analysis of color-strip rapid diagnostic tests that are generally used for monitoring certain conditions (9332-21). Some of those strips are already available in the pharmacy, and have been designed to assess a simple mouth swab or urine sample. The read-out consists of a pattern of a few parallel lines containing qualitative or quantitative information about the patient's condition. Examples are tests for prostate cancer and HIV.

The strips have been adapted to contain 3 QR codes for alignment and positioning, and can be imaged by the Google Glass' 5-megapixel camera. The team wrote software that guides the person wearing the glasses through the entire procedure and, after connecting with an online server, presents the viewer with a clear-cut diagnosis.

The algorithm uses pattern matching and can read the lines as an actual chromatogram with peak positions and heights. To assess the sensitivity, dilution tests were performed and gave 100% accurate results for up to 6x dilutions. Even though the camera is limited in resolution, it can read up to 4 strips in parallel. Their most recent application of this technique is a plant leaf chloroform measurement tool to measure plant stress (SPAD test).

Nine new products were named winners of the 2015 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation -- an honor dubbed by one presenter as the "Oscar of photonics" -- during a gala banquet Wednesday evening. Industry luminaries announced awards to:

Blood-vessel-detecting technology for surgeons, a microphone that detects sound with no moving parts, and a plasmonic film that replaces a lab-bench worth of equipment with a robust, portable detector were selected as the top  projects in the 2015 SPIE Startup Challenge (above, winners, sponsors, and judges after the pitches).

First-place winner Jonathan Gunn of Briteseed LLC pitched SafeSnips, a blood-vessel-detecting technology that gives surgeons critical information to make more confident decisions in the operating room. A video of the winning pitch is online.

Taking second place, Balthasar Fischer of XARION Laser Acoustics pitched the Membrane-free Optical Microphone. The device requires neither a membrane nor any other moving component to convert sound into electrical voltage, exploiting the fact that sound can change the speed of light.

In third place, Jeffrey Crosby of Picoyune pitched a chemical sensing platform whose patented plasmonic film is highly sensitive to mercury and can be coupled with existing gas monitors. The intended first customers are coal-fired power plants that, by law, need to carefully monitor their output of mercury.

Advances in space-based optical communication, ultrafast lasers, and 3D printing highlighted the LASE plenary session at Photonics West, echoing a theme seen throughout this year’s meeting: real-world applications of technologies developed over decades of sustained research.

Donald Cornwell Jr., Director of the Technology Division at NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program, focused on advances in optical communications. The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration achieved the first two-way, high-rate (622 Mbps) laser communication from the moon, providing data transfer 4,800 times faster than the fastest RF uplink to a spacecraft. Cornwell explained that “We need more and more bandwidth to bring back more data from the instruments we send out into space.” The positive results from this demonstration enabled NASA to expand its laser optical communication program for future deep space missions, including a laser communications relay demonstration from geo-synchronous orbit in 2018.

Jens Limpert, head of the laser development group at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, focused on a unique approach to increasing the peak powers of ultrafast lasers: combining ultrafast laser pulses to enable Joule-class high repetition rate femtosecond lasers, which could lead to new applications in science, industry, and medicine. This research seeks to go “beyond the powers of any known laser architecture today,” and promises to “enable the next general of ultrafast laser sources.”

Xiaoyan Zeng of Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics discussed laser 3D printing of metallic components and its industrial applications. Zeng’s talk focused on the current status of laser melting deposition (LMD) and selective laser melting (SLM) for manufacturing metal components, including recent technical breakthroughs by Chinese researchers. For instance, Zeng’s group at Wuhan has developed SLM equipment that allow them to print multiple complex components with good mechanical performance, including jet nozzles, grid filters, and blade wheels.

Calling him "a giant of a friend," SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs shared his memories of Charles Townes Wednesday in a special tribute to the laser pioneer during the LASE plenary session (above, Arthurs shares a slide showing Townes in the center of a group of Nobel Laureates and others celebrating the 50th anniversary of the laser, in 2010).

Townes, who shared a Nobel Prize in 1964 for the development of the maser and laser, passed away 27 January at the age of 99.

"My career, my life were indelibly influenced by this genius," said Arthurs, who started his career as a laser physicist. "He really was a remarkable person to know. His vision, his openness to everything, his interest in all areas of science was quite inspiring."

One of the many impressive things about Townes was his love of his students, Arthurs noted. "Nobel laureates can be hard to pin down sometimes, but if he was asked to speak to students, he was immediately there. He loved doing that, loved giving them advice."

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize, Townes also won the Templeton award, which is given to an individual who encourages and honors those who advance knowledge in spiritual matters, Arthurs noted.

"It is a $1.5 million award -- bigger than the Nobel prize -- and anyone who had the honor to know Charles would not be surprised to know that he gave away all of the money - to Furman University (his alma mater), to a homeless shelter in Berkeley, and to a church," he said.

Arthurs said that what struck him most about Townes was his joie de vivre, his generosity, and his boundless curiosity.

"Although it is usual to give a moment of silence to pay tribute to such a person, I don't think he would want that," Arthurs said. "He would want us to celebrate, not to mourn. He would want us to get the message: Enjoy exploration. It's fun!"

In 2012, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the Conflict Mineral Rule as mandated by the Dodd-Frank legislation. This rule requires companies to disclose their use of minerals (specifically gold, tungsten, tantalum, and tin) that were obtained from either the Democratic Republic of Congo, or adjoining countries. The disclosure is required in order to understand if the money is being used to aid armed groups in this region. It effects thousands of companies in the U.S., but many are uneducated as to what they need to do in order to follow the rule.

Rosemary Szostak of Nerac moderated a panel discussion with three experts in the Conflict Mineral Rule, in order to help those in companies that need to better understand the rule, and how it effects them.

Dynda Thomas, a partner in the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, presented the three questions that every company needs to ask themselves about the Conflict Mineral Rules:

Answering these questions may be difficult for some companies, which is one of the reasons why reporting in the first year was lower than expected. However, as the years go on and people become more educated about conflict minerals, it is expected that the number and the quality of the reports will increase.

Consultant Douglas Hileman gave tips to companies for following the conflict mineral rule and filing their reports. These tips included setting clear cutoff dates for where the delineation of reporting years lies, only making claims in your report that can be backed up by evidence, and listing the steps you took to clearly show auditors how you took due diligence.

Offering a different perspective, Lydia Hultquist of NetApp gave a firsthand experience of a company dealing with complying for the first time. She led a team as they figured out what was required of them, how to contact their suppliers, and how to file the report. The first year was challenging, as most of the data had to be tracked manually, but the second year the burden was lessened as NetApp decided to use a third party provider.

Now the company faces a question of whether or not to attempt to change suppliers and become "conflict-free", obtaining all of their minerals from countries outside of those covered by the rule.

Participants in panel of industry executives on Wednesday afternoon all reported a strong year in 2014, with significant growth. One welcome change this year is the absence of a threat of sequestration to stifle government spending on technology.

Dirk Rothweile, executive vice president of optical systems for Jenoptik, noted that sequestration was a big threat in each of the last two years, but that it "seems to be not a topic this year". He reported a book-to-bill ratio of about 1, and said the company is expecting good business from the defense industry.

Dennis Werth, senior vice president of the photonics group for Newport, said that his group, which accounts for 40 percent of the company's business, had a strong year. An 8 percent growth rate was headed by Newport's microelectronics division, which grew 17 percent. Werth pointed to China as a key market, where factory automation is increasing demand for precision laser-machining equipment. He also cited China's growing healthcare market and crackdown on corruption in business as important factors for doing business there.

Eric Mottay, founder and now president and CEO of Amplitude Systems, joked that when he started 15 years ago the business plan in ultrafast lasers was "no business, no customer, no market." But it turned out to be the beginning of a new adventure. Citing the upbeat mood this year, he said that potential users "do not hesitate to start new programs in ultrafast lasers." While eye surgery is a strong market, the lasers may create brand-new applications or allow customers to increase quality and yield. "I'm not alone in thinking there's a big future for ultrafast lasers," he said.

Amy Eskilson, president and CEO of Inrad Optics, also sees ultrafast-laser opportunities, and said her company also had felt the impact of sequestration, but has rebounded strongly with very strong bookings in the past year. Inrad manufactures laser systems for research and the military, and inspection systems for process control and metrology.

Christof Lehner, general manager, North America for TRUMPF, said that over the past few years the company experienced steep growth after the financial crisis, then a couple of relatively flat years followed by more growth last fiscal year. Split between machine tools and laser technology/electronics divisions, the company is able to invest 10% of its revenue in R&D.

An important factor influencing the bottom line, especially for internationally focused companies, is the strengthening dollar. Most companies have balanced its impact on sales with cost savings in non-U.S.-based manufacturing.

A Laser Joining session in the High-Power Laser Materials Processing conference demonstrated the positive effect that photonic processes can have on the environment and society by saving energy and resources.

Lightweight components made from fibre-reinforced plastics (FRPs), ultrahigh strength metal alloys, and dissimilar materials like polymer-to-metal or metal-to-metal are nowadays in high demand, noted Uwe Stute of 4JET Technologies GmbH (9356-12).

Though lightweight, these components have strength and stiffness, and are rapidly growing in prevalence as a sustainable substitution to traditional materials such as steel and cement in the aviation, civil, and automotive industries.

However, cutting and joining these materials through conventional methods such as adhesive bonding or mechanical fastening is significantly challenged by factors like stress concentration, need for surface preparation, and harmful chemical emissions.

In comparison, laser-based photonic processes provide non-contact, high-precision machining with fatigue endurance and resistance to tool tear, temperature, and corrosion effects, making them highly suitable for automated mass-production of these lightweight components and structures.

Stute overviewed various laser sources that would be suitable for high-speed automated FRP cutting and ablating, and highlighted his team's work using ultrashort pulse lasers with varying pulse overlap to impact the area of heat-affected zones.

Whereas the photonic processes he presented are relevant for many industries, Stute focused primarily on application to reduce weight and improve driving dynamics in the automotive industry. After demonstrating a few results of successful implementation and usage of different laser processes to produce FRPs, Stute concluded that the next immediate step would be to develop standards addressing the emission and safety issues in producing lightweight components using laser processes.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, it became apparent that the communications networks in place in Japan were not robust enough to handle the challenge of such a natural disaster. The earthquake shut down 29,000 mobile base stations, restricted telephone lines, made internet access very limited, and left many people with no lines of communication and no way to seek help. Researchers then immediately began trying to develop improvements for the wired and wireless communications networks in Japan in order to prevent future disasters from crippling Japanese communication lines.<

In a special session on Resilient Green Wireless Networks for Future Mobile in Broadband Access Communication Technologies, Kiyoshi Hamaguchi (Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan) presented a possible solution for increasing the robustness by transitioning from a tree network design to that of a mesh network (9387-19).

The mesh will allow for bypass routes so that if individual locations are shut down or become isolated, information can still be transferred throughout the network. A test run of a mesh system combined with satellites was implemented at Tohoku University. Portable, solar-powered mesh nodes were developed, as well as permanent mesh nodes with digital screens that could explain safety information in case of an emergency. After this initial successful test in 2013, the technology was implemented in the town of Onogawa, Japan.

Fortunately, the system has not needed to be fully executed yet, but it appears to be performing well. Another implementation site is currently being planned to further develop the mesh system and determine its potential application.

Alternatively to the combination network mesh and satellite communications system, Fumiyuki Adachi of Tohoku University proposed unmanned aircraft as an element to increase the robustness of Japan's communication network (9387-21). The aircraft will be used as bypass routes for data transfer, should portions of the network be shut down due to natural disaster.

In addition to the necessity to guard against major catastrophic events, Katsumi Iwatsuki, also of Tohoku University, discussed the need for wired and wireless networks to make improvements in order to keep up with the growing need for data transfer (9387-17). He said that from the year 2010 to 2020, the amount of mobile data will increase by a factor of 1000. Soon, networks will need to develop 5G systems and beyond in order to handle the massive amounts of information being shared.

Iwatsuki suggested fully coherent transmission as a promising technology for optical links between signal processing centers and distributed antennae. This system would not only be more robust against possible disasters, but it would also have the capability to handle the extreme levels of communication traffic that are expected in the near future.

When Patrice Baldeck (Univ. Joseph Fourier) was faced with the challenge of writing several square centimeters of high-resolution material with a 3D printing technique based on nonlinear photochemistry, he started wondering if this would indeed be achievable by using more powerful lasers combined with parallel printing. After all, the potential of two-photon 3D printing is defined by the energy that can be absorbed by photoinitiators by two-photon absorption. At that time they were writing at 10 µm per second.

Baldeck teamed up with researchers including Pablo Romero and Nera Otero at AIMEN, planning to revolutionize (nonlinear) 3D printing. The dream was to fabricate, remove and finish a product in one single shot, using holographic projection. He came here to present how close they are to that dream, breaking the centimeter scale as well as the time restrictions by working on parallel fabrication (9360-34).

Baldeck started to work with a self-Q-switched laser that he is now using for 2PA at only 1% of its maximum power. This means that with 100x the power, he can either increase the spot size by 10x with loss of 3D resolution, or use 100 spots with the same resolution using parallel printing using a diffractive optical element (a phase mask). For fast printing of big objects, it is an option to increase the voxel size. Physics teaches us that increasing the beam waist (diameter) by a factor 10 will increase the axial size by a factor 100, resulting in considerable loss of 3D resolution. Fortunately, for certain applications (e.g. a smart phone case) this is not an issue.

Baldeck guides his audience through the possibilities of different kinds of pulsed lasers for parallel printing, with as extreme example an amplified nanosecond pulsed laser that would be able to print about 100.000 spots simultaneously, with about 200 nm resolution. At the end of his talk, Baldeck presents several centimeter-sized objects they have recently written in a matter of minutes, at a speed of 2 m/s.

Poster receptions are some of the liveliest gatherings during the Photonics West week, providing the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the author, meet potential new collaborators, and gather new ideas; above, Wednesday evening's event.

Opening day of the Photonics West Exhibition was "the best Day 1 ever," in the words of Graham Sperrin, European Sales Manager for ET Enterprises, whose comment was echoed by many representatives of the 1,260 exhibiting companies on the floor this year. Visitors got a close-up look at the latest in optics and photonics devices, components, and systems -- and will be back for more today and Thursday. More photos are in the exhibit gallery.

The two-day Job Fair connected prospective employees with employers with photonics jobs to fill. Companies sending recruiters included Apple, Ball Aerospace, Coherent, Google, GoPro, Microsoft, Newport Corp., and others. Find more about job openings, or read the SPIE Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report, on the SPIE Career Center.

Newport Corp.’s Jim Fisher (center, back row) congratulates winners of the Newport Research Excellence Travel Awards at Tuesday’s student networking luncheon. The grants provide financial support for university students to present their research at one of the two largest SPIE meetings. There were 18 winners overall. The winners are Utku Baran (Unvi. Of Washington), Liane Bernstein (Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal), Olga Bibikova (Univ. of Oulu), Angela D’esposito (Univ. College London), Itai Epstein (Tel Aviv University), Jami Johnson (Univ. of Auckland), Stefan Kalies (Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.), Rehab Kotb (American Univ. in Cairo), Jessica Kwong (Univ. of California, Irvine), Kuan-Yu Li (National Taiwan Univ.), Stephen Misak (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), Mohammad Amin Nazirzadeh (Bilkent Univ.), Stephen Restaino (Univ. of Maryland, College Park), Hyerin Song (Pusan National University), Zuleykhan Tomova (Univ. of Maryland, College Park), Daming Xu (CREOL, Univ. of Central Florida), and Zhou Yang (Univ. of New Mexico).

With the recent advances in fiber optics, light sources, imaging detectors, and molecular biology, a number of promising optical technologies are emerging as potential tools for functional and structural imaging of single cells with microscopic resolution. "However using these techniques to understand the structure and function of 'live cells' from nano- to micro-scale is still a significant challenge," said Gabriel Popescu of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during his Nano/Biophotonics plenary session talk, "Bridging molecular and cellular biology with optics."

Popescu presented the work carried out by his research group on using quantitative phase imaging (QPI) as a potential technique to overcome this challenge. QPI is an optical imaging technique that uses optical interferometry to quantify the phase changes that occur when light beam interacts with different regions of the cell having different intracellular densities.

He explained that by using a specially designed interferometer where both the reference and the object beam pass through the sample and microscope objective, it is possible to cancel each other's noise and obtain an interference pattern that is in turn is capable to deliver nanoscale information from cellular structures.

He added that, unlike the fluorescence based imaging techniques that pose an additional requirement on using either topical or intravenous staining agents to achieve high image contrast and sensitivity, QPI provides label-free measurements of nanoscale fluctuations and motions of cells, thereby making the cells happier.

Exciting results demonstrating the flickering characteristic of the red blood cells that could be monitored by quantifying the stiffness of the cell membranes with nanoscale accuracy using the QPI technique were presented. He also demonstrated results on how QPI enabled to visualize activities of neurons connecting to each other and to the muscle cells all during time intervals from seconds to several days.

Popescu concluded by presenting his vision about using the QPI technique along with optical fibers to enable studying the nanoscale activities of 'live cells in-vivo'. He further expressed his interest on combining QPI with epi-fluorescence microscopy to exact nanoscale information from targeted molecular structures, thus increasing the overall specificity of the imaging technique.

Thomas Südhof of the Stanford University School of Medicine received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his contribution to the mapping of the cell's transport system through vesicles -- specifically "discoveries of the machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells."

His current research is focusing on genetic defects causing autism and schizophrenia. In his plenary talk, Südhof presented the story of neurexins, a presynaptic receptor for the toxin secreted by the black widow spider that can cause autism and schizofrenia when mutated.

After an apology for being a neuroscientist at a photonics conference, he immersed his audience with some general facts and considerations about neurons and neuron plasticity before focusing on the more specialized neurexins, and β-neurexin in particular. Key to the presentation were "neuron plasticity," implying that information transfer between neurons changes with use, an essential property for memory and learning, and the use of fear conditioning to study the learning capabilities of mice, as well as their capability of remembering accurately.

While the classical top-down approach is being used by many neuroscientists to figure out how the brain works, Südhof realizes that additional complementary approaches are required. Figuring out the brain just simply isn't a matter of looking at either the global response or the specific synaptic patterns, and observations of synaptic patterns don't always lead to conclusive new information.

To study the function and importance of neurexins, Südhof and his coworkers generated knock-out mice, each missing one or more of the 3 neurexin genes. While the triple mutants were not viable at all, single mutants could undergo the fear conditioning, which simply means training by applying an electric shock after a given queue (e.g. sound, light flash) in a certain environment.

After this training, researchers can detect fear (or the absence of fear) by reproducing the environment and/or the queue, to see how accurately the mice can remember their training. In general, the knock-out mice show reduced synapse function. Further investigation in cultured cell lines revealed a decrease in the release probability and a reduction in Ca2+-influx.

These observations led to more experiments suggesting hyperactivated endocannabinoid signalling. Electrode experiments in mouse brain slices showed a remarkable difference in the effects on regular and burst firing subiculum neurons. The dramatic block of presynaptic, burst firing neurons has interesting complications for long-term plasticity. People with dysfunctional neurexins are still capable of performing most regular brain functions, since neurexins seem to be related only to complicated functions of the brain.

After his talk, Südhof addressed the questions from the audience, one of which was probing for the challenges from the neuroscientific community towards the optics and photonics community. Südhof said he thought that the most important challenge was to make high-resolution microscopy more accessible, both in vitro and in vivo, and additionally also to improve the computational analysis of the experimental data.

With lasers and photonics driving the additive manufacturing market, 3D printing is being hailed as the next industrial revolution, and has taken the public's imagination by storm.  A well-attended industry panel discussion (above) explored a realistic assessment of how digital manufacturing technology, applications, and markets will evolve in the near future.

But 3D printing -- also known as additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, laser deposition, and selective laser melting -- isn't just for gee-whiz demos of instantly "printed" candy, toys, cars, or tchotchkes at industrial and consumer tradeshows. It's an emerging production process on the verge of truly revolutionizing industrial manufacturing -- and opening up new business opportunities for lasers and photonics in the process.

In fact, the widespread adoption of 3D printing could upend currently accepted production economics by allowing products and components to be produced economically in smaller numbers, with more flexibility and using new materials.

After decades in the lab, silicon photonics is finally moving into the fab, where it is poised to push next-generation photonics technologies into mass markets, notably telecom/datacom, high performance computing, and even consumer electronics in the not-too-distant future.

That prediction was heard repeatedly Tuesday during a series of presentations on the burgeoning market for silicon photonics -- a market projected to grow from $50 million in 2017 to over $700 million by 2024, according to a July 2014 report from Yole Développement.

"All of this is being driven by mobile data connectivity and the need for higher bandwidth, which puts constraints on copper," said Mario Paniccia, director of the photonics technology lab at Intel during his keynote address, "Silicon photonics for a new era of scalable bandwidth." Paniccia said innovations in silicon photonics are "bringing photonics out into the mass market. I believe 2015 will be the transitional year."

What is driving this surge in commercialization efforts? More mobile connectivity means greater need to more efficiently and effectively move data to and from the cloud. And by "the cloud," Paniccia said, we really mean data centers -- some a million square feet or more.

Francesca Mangiarini (PhotonEtc) showed the newest developments and results from their multiplex microscopy hyperspectral imaging platform, in a paper co-authored by Institut Univ. en Santé Mentale de Quebec (9328-20).

They accepted the challenge to speed up hyperspectral imaging to use it in research on neurodegenerative diseases, generally referred to as diseases from the central nervous system (CNS). Their imaging platform is capable of measuring and tracking the mobility of 5-10 fluorescently labeled receptors in the synaptic cleft simultaneously, with a spectral resolution below 2.5 nm, in the 500-900 nm range and with the hyperspectral acquisition happening in under 4 seconds per image using a EMCCD camera.

The camera records sequential hyperspectral cubes, after which an algorithm identifies the different markers from the spectra and tracks each individual label.

Mangiarini reported on experiments performed by the institute's Paul De Koninck, who tested the platform on life synapses with receptors labeled with quantum dots and a synaptic marker to visualize the location of the synapse. The use of quantum dots provides stable markers with a large variability in spectral properties, allowing the discrimination of different probes through hyperspectral information.

A first experiment showed the effect of increased glutamate concentrations in the cells on the stargazin receptor (a calcium channel), which usually leads to cell death, while a second experiment studies the effect of a common drug for Alzheimer patients, Memantine, of which the working mechanism is unknown.

Their technique was able to show that both increased glutamate concentrations and the addition of Memantine drastically reduce the diffusion coefficient of the stargazin receptor and other glutamate receptors. Reduced mobility of those receptors in the synapses generally leads to decreased neuron activity, which may explain the effects described above.

As the amount of data produced grows exponentially, and the need for higher data rates continually increases, Intel and Corning are working together to overcome the current limitations of big data centers. Hai-Feng Liu of Intel presented the development of a silicon photonics transceiver and ClearCurve LX fiber, that combined produced a record breaking 25 Gb/s data rate along 820 meters of fiber with only a 3.4 dB power penalty (9390-1).

Liu explained that the majority of optical fiber currently used in big data centers is multimode, due to the ease of coupling to and from light sources; however, the reach of these fibers is limited to a few hundred meters, and even less at high data rates. In order to overcome this, a new multimode fiber was designed and fabricated by Corning.

The ClearCurve fiber has a 50 um core with a graded refractive index and a trench in the cladding. This design decreases the modal delay differences in the fiber, which increases the modal bandwidth, increasing the maximum reach of the fiber.

The silicon photonic transceiver was designed by Intel for 1310 nm, where the fiber chromatic dispersion is a minimum. The reach of this combined system is 8 times longer than that achieved using standard multimode fiber and a VCSEL based transceiver, enabling the growth of mega data centers utilizing high rates of data transmission.

Structural and functional imaging of the physical brain at several different scales is indispensable in understanding how the brain works, noted Francesco Pavone of the European Laboratory of Non-Linear Spectroscopy during the conference on Optical Techniques in Neurosurgery, Brain Imaging and Neurobiology (9305-226).

Because brain is a highly scattering medium, using versatile optical clearance methods that render the brain "transparent" to view large network of neurons with high accuracy, without losing the big picture, is of fundamental importance. Recent optical clearance methods offer to extract high-resolution images of mouse brains that are fixed in position. However extending these methods for high resolution and high contrast whole-brain imaging of humans is challenging.

Pavone presented results in using a water-soluble cleaning agent, 2,2-thiodiethanol (TDE), to optically clear regions of mouse and human brain with 4 times deeper penetration, stable fluorescence and no increase in photo-bleaching. TDE also showed compatibility with immunolabelling dyes such as DAPI and GFAP and did not cause tissue shrinkage or deformation.

He showed spectacular applications of correlative microscopies that combined linear and non-linear techniques for multi-level multi-colour brain mapping, reconstruction of entire brain vasculature whole mouse brain tomography with nano-scale resolution.

Mapping the brain's billion-fold neural network from thousands and thousands of recorded snapshots is a laborious, error-prone, and time-consuming task. Addressing this immediate problem of data management, Pavone concluded with recent work using a concept similar to Google Maps to build a fully automated tool to create a "Google" brain that would aid the user to manage, access, and navigate through this terabyte-size data set at several different scales from anywhere in the world.

A post-exhibit-day roundtable (above) led by Scott Tribble, Vice President for Global Trade Compliance at FLIR Systems and chair of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC), and SPIE lobbyist Jennifer Douris, drew a large number of participants for discussion on upcoming changes to the U.S. Munitions List (USML) that will impact ITAR regulations for both industry and research universities. The rewrite of Category XII of the U.S Munitions List (USML) is part of the overall effort undertaken by the Administration's Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative.

The USML contains the items controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Category XII covers much of the optic and photonic commodities and components controlled under ITAR. Most of the other categories have already been addressed, but they have saved Category XII for last due to its complexity and importance to both industry and the military. Proposed rules for this category are expected to be published in 2015.

Ian Moss, an attorney with Goulston & Storrs, led a workshop earlier in the day outling what sort of business activities are affected by current rules.

SPIE Student Services hosted a social employing next-generation networking to help networking-challenged students add a new contact every three minutes. Students networked for three minutes before moving on to interact with new people. They were encouraged to bring plenty of business cards, practice their pitches, and prepare to expand their networks.

Following the induction of 28 new SPIE fellows, 2014 Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Shuji Nakamura presented a history of the development of blue LEDs, and described their impact on the future of lighting.

Nakamura presented an overview of the enabling technologies, such as two-flow MOCVD and thermal annealing with nitrogen, that enabled the fabrication of this light source. While Nakamura confessed that he initially selected a GaN base for the LED simply as a means to obtain his PhD as quickly as possible, the choice ultimately led to the creation of a revolutionary technology.

The impact of LED lighting technology on the environment is profound, with an estimated 40% electricity savings and the elimination of over 30 high-power plants in the USA alone expected by the year 2030.

However, for the next generation, Nakamura pointed in a different direction for the future of lighting. He said that lasers, and not LEDs, are the next exciting step in efficient light sources. This is because the power density of lasers is more than 80 times that of LEDs, which could allow for high-brightness light sources taking up very little chip space, significantly with higher efficiency.

Applause was heard throughout Moscone as speakers presented their latest findings and visions for what's next in conference rooms and plenary halls -- a sampling of the day's talks follows.

Three leading physicists headlined the OPTO Plenary Session at Photonics West this year, providing insight into the latest advances in silicon photonics, ultrafast coherent charge transfers, and tunable metamaterials. These technologies are enabling advances in a variety of commercial applications, from solar cells and artificial light harvesting systems to telecom/datacom and biosensing.

Yuri Vlasov, manager of the Silicon Nanophotonics Project at the IBM Watson Research Center, discussed how silicon-based optical interconnects can replace traditional copper in short- and long-haul networks, resolving bottlenecks and lowering costs for cloud and data centers. Silicon photonics devices overcome the limitations of copper by integrating photonic and electronic components on a silicon-based platform. The result is a low-cost optical component with nearly infinite bandwidth, reduced power consumption, and better reliability and scalability.

Christoph Lienau, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Oldenburg, outlined his team’s recent work on ultrafast coherent charge transfer. This research explores molecular and nano-level processes behind the conversion of light into energy, with applications in the design of future artificial light-harvesting systems. Lienau’s group conducted ultrafast spectroscopic observations and quantum dynamics simulations, providing “direct insight into the fundamental phenomena that initiate the organic photovoltaic process.”

Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology, summarized his team’s recent achievements in understanding plasmonic metamaterials—assemblies that contain features, patterns or elements that enable an unprecedented control of light. The group has “demonstrated the possibility of making active, tunable metamaterials that are taking an interesting new direction in the form of metasurfaces.” These metasurfaces could be usable in a variety of structures where optics and electronics intersect, with potential applications including advanced solar cells, computers, telecommunications, sensors, and microscopes.

Dongkyun Kang and his research team at Massachusetts General Hospital have recently developed an ultraminiaturized endoscopy technology termed as spectrally encoded Endoscopy (SEE), which facilitates acquisition of 1-megapixel per image with a probe as small as 350 µm diameter. The fabrication methodology and imaging results of this SEE probe were presented by Kang during the BIOS Endoscopic Microscopy conference (9304-224).

SEE is an optical-fiber-based imaging approach that uses a broadband light source and a diffraction grating to simultaneously image multiple lines of the tissue without using any mechanical beam scanning devices. As a result, the resolution of SEE is dependent on the groove density and spectral width of the diffraction grating.

With the aim to improve field angles and resolution of SEE probes, Kang and his team specially fabricated a miniaturized diffraction grating with a high groove density (2000 lpmm) and a large spectral bandwidth (415-820 nm) using the soft lithography fabrication process. With the new design, a high-resolution SEE probe of an outer diameter of 350 µm with 500 resolvable points and field angle of 77° was developed as compared to the previously designed 500 µm, 30° field angle probe.

Kang presented the experimental results for SEE imaging of the mouse embryos, and demonstrated the capability of this ultraminiature endoscope to clearly visualize characteristic anatomical features of these tissues with high resolution and imaging contrast and its potential to be translated into clinical settings.

With 2,400 people dying each day of cardiovascular diseases alone in the U.S., a pressing need exists for more advanced imaging methods for detection and diagnosis of these diseases in early stages. With this opening remark, Pu Wang, a researcher from Purdue University and one of the speakers in the BIOS Photons Plus Ultrasound conference presented the work done by his team on using in-vivo intravascular photoacoustic imaging for diagnosis of arterial plaques that are the root cause for heart diseases (9323-31).

The work, done in collaboration with University of Southern California, University of California Irvine, Indiana University, and Shanghai Institute, demonstrated the use of a newly developed intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) dual-mode imaging system for high speed, in vivo selective chemical imaging of lipid deposition within the arterial walls.

The chemical imaging capability was achieved by using a high speed KGW-based Raman laser with the source excitation wavelength of 1730 nm and results were presented for IVUS/IVPA imaging of the iliac artery from an Ossabaw swine as a simple model for the in-vivo study, said Wang.

The presentation highlighted the great potential of IVPA technique to be the new tool for faster and non-invasive detection of arterial plaques with high accuracy, thus making it more suitable for translation in the clinical settings.

Second-harmonic generation (SHG) is a nonlinear optical technique that can be used in microscopy to visualize highly ordered, usually helical protein assemblies, without the need of labeling. Label-free imaging is a desired method for low-impact imaging in live animals, including humans. Collagen is a very interesting molecule for SHG imaging, because it reflects a number of pathologies of connective tissue, including strongly deviating patterns for certain cancer types.

Paul Campagnola and his team at the Univ. of Wisconson, Madison, found that the SHG patterns from different pathologies, including benign versus malign tumors, are similar within the same class (9329-33) . He therefore suggests a classification system based on textons -- repeating features in the texture of the images which can be used to first train a computer program to recognize them, and then later to use them for tumor classification using nearest neighbor classification.

Using a library of 40 textons, they were able to increase their accuracy to higher than 80% for all tested tumor types. They were able to apply this method (combined with 2D wavelet transform) to characterize idiopathic fibrosis, of which the pathology (and changes in collagen) are unknown.

Campagnola brought up the universal problem of never being able to image collagen fibers parallel to the laser beam with SHG. This leads to significant loss of information about the sample. He suggests to solve this problem by exciting the sample from different angles under the name of Multiview SHG. They made a small device to be embedded between a glass slide and cover slip, containing 2 millimeter scale prisms, enabling them to illuminate the sample from the sides, and reveal the hidden structures perpendicular to the glass slide.

Members from photonics clusters from throughout the world gathered for a reception to hear the latest updates from SPIE analysts about the size of the global photonics industry. Above, Rochester, New York, cluster member John Hart of Lumetrics, Inc., takes a turn in calling out where he's from, while others from Florida, the UK, and elsewhere wait their turn to call out their regions.

SPIE Industry and Market Analyst Steve Anderson told those gathered that SPIE's latest data shows that the worldwide core photonics industry is responsible for $156 billion in revenues generated by 2,750 companies who provide 700,000 jobs.

A reception hosted by the Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics drew a large crowd of friends and associates; above, from left, SPIE President Toyohiko Yatagai (Utsunomiya University), David Sampson (University of Western Australia), Bruce Tromberg (University of California, Irvine, Beckman Laser Institute), Francesco Pavone (European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy), and Qingming Luo, Executive Deputy Director, Wuhan National Lab for Optoelectronics, and Vice President, Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

The closest that the world of photonics has to rock stars played to a packed house at Sunday evening's special plenary event on super-resolution microscopy. Chair Bruce Tromberg introduced this as the very first BiOS Nobel session and predicted "more will follow." (Above, Tromberg fields questions after the talks with Eric Betzig, left, and W.E. Moerner, seated.)

Tromberg and fellow session chairs Ammasi Periasamy from the University of Virginia and PicoQuant's Rainer Erdmann began the evening with a video message from Stefan Hell, honoring a long-standing speaking commitment elsewhere. The saxophone-playing microscopist hit the nail on the head when he said that the personal stories of the three laureates were quite different.

For William "W.E." Moerner, it has been a relatively conventional route to the Nobel.For Eric Betzig, whose compelling tale involves quitting Bell Labs in the 1990s and a period in the scientific wilderness before building a super-resolution microscope from spare parts in best friend Harald Hess's living room, not so much.

What all three had in common, said Hell, was a passion to work on things that "could not be done -- supposedly."

The story of super-resolution begins with another Nobel winner -- 1933 physics laureate Erwin Schrödinger, who declared that the idea of observing individual molecules was fanciful. It was as likely to happen as man was to raise dinosaurs, he said.

By the 1980s, the inquisitive young research minds of Hell, Betzig, and Moerner were starting to think about ways to prove Schrödinger wrong. Thirty years on, and with the various flavors of super-resolution microscopy now revealing secrets of cell biology that literally could not be seen before, Hell summed up the collective achievement with this: "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And maybe one day somebody will raise dinosaurs."

As for the future of super-resolution microscopy, Betzig sees a growing role for adaptive optics, in combination with lattice light sheet and super-resolution techniques. "We can really get at the guts of what is going on in living cells in their normal environment," he said. Whether he personally sticks around remains to be seen -- going on previous form, he reckons he only has a couple more years to devote to microscopy before changing tack again.

Asked where the technology will have a real-world impact in the near future, Moerner was unequivocal. The obvious answer was in cell biology, he said. "We can see so many things that we couldn't see before." Ultimately, the impact of that on the medical world ought to be profound.

Bringing an unprecedented and downright entertaining BiOS conference session to a close, Tromberg summed up the warmth of feeling in the auditorium when he said, "It's been a remarkable night. All of us here will remember this night for the rest of our lives."

Exhibitors reported another busy day with a steady flow of booth visitors at the BiOS Expo. See more photos in the exhibition gallery.

Four new optical technologies each won $500 as the stand-out papers in this year's Translational Research forum, sponsored by OCT News. The winning entries, based in the U.S. and Israel, presented a smart bandage for wound monitoring, a fiber-optic setup to reduce the risks of spinal surgery, a new laser-based method to deliver drugs into the back of the eye, and a lens-free microscope for digital pathology.

Conference chairs Bruce Tromberg from University of California, Irvine, and Gabriela Apiou from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital said that they were selected from nearly 270 submissions for their focus on key clinical issues like addressing currently unmet medical needs and showing definitive outcomes.

The smart bandage developed by Zongxi Li and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital looks to have plenty of clinical potential. Li described how the transparent bandage uses phosphorescence stimulated by blue light to measure oxygen levels in the tissue of wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs). At the moment an invasive polarographic method is used, but that requires a painful needle insertion.

DFUs are a widespread problem, with an estimated 6 million people in the U.S. suffering from the condition, at an estimated annual cost of $25 billion. Many of those end up with amputations because of the lack of oxygenated blood reaching their feet. Li said that the bandage, tested on rats, could effectively "light up oxygen" with a simple color change for easy wound monitoring, and also be used to predict how likely DFUs were to appear.

Angela Kogler from Stony Brook University is working on a completely new way to monitor spinal cord ischemia. It has the potential to reduce the incidence of spinal injuries caused when nearby tumors are removed surgically.

The portable fiber-optic probe, developed in conjunction with Arjun Yodh at the University of Pennsylvania and a team with strong clinical experience, offers a different way to measure blood flow and oxygenation down the spine during surgery. Those are currently monitored by sending electrical impulses via the brain, something that can only be done under anesthetic because of the pain it causes, and which has other drawbacks like not being able to distinguish between ischemia caused by injury and that from surgical clamps reducing blood flow.

The technology, which uses differential spectroscopy techniques to measure deoxyhemoglobin levels, has been tested on sheep, showing accurate, sensitive results alongside a fast response. Clinical feedback suggests potential benefits for surgical planning, and a new start-up company called NFOSys is looking to develop it further.

The two other translational research winners were Ygal Rotensterich from Israel's Sheba Medical Center, with a new laser-based method to deliver stem cells into the retina to treat sight-threatening retinal diseases, and Yibo Zhang from Aydogan Ozcan's University of California, Los Angeles, research group, with a low-cost, lens-free microscope showing promise for digital pathology.

Authors of the four Translational Research Award winners were congratulated by conference chairs Bruce Tromberg and Gabriela Apiou. From left are Tromberg, Zhang, Li, Kogler, Rotensterich, and Apiou.

After receiving the Advanced Fabrication Technologies for Micro/Nano Optics and Photonics conference best paper award (9374-1), David Phillips (University of Glasgow) stepped up to the podium and met the suddenly increased expectations of his audience, explaining development of a new kind of scanning probe microscopy (like atomic force microscopy) based on optical tweezers.

The technology uses a 2D nanoscale tip, fabricated by direct laser writing and trapped using three focused laser beams through holographic methods, allowing control or read of both the position and the torque of the tip. Additionally, they record the view of the same tip from two different angles. In combination with 2D tracking and the use of three handles (optical traps), researchers are able to achieve six degrees of freedom to measure what objects are doing.

Because they can fabricate any desired shape and size of tip using two-photon polymerization of a photoresist material, they can work with 50-nm tips and even manipulate the restoring force of the optical traps. By designing a slightly conical tip, they were able to create a constant force plateau in the restoring force, which they can use to probe objects with a resolution below 10 nm.

Phillips demonstrated successful experiments in which a microscopic object is visible, as well as the tip. While the tip is pushing softly against the object, the tip is moved within the XY plane, tracing the surface of the object, which is monitored by the optical tweezers. This process is comparable to AFM but applies less pressure and shear on the sample.

For applications in micro-robotics, Phillips proposes a crank-like mechanism that can pick up an object and rotate it in the microscope, and flow control, as the direction of the flow can now be changed in a flow chamber.

In the conference on Endoscopic Microscopy, Michalina Gora described the recent developments of her team at Massachusetts General Hospital (9304-214) on tethered capsule OCT endomicroscopy for microscopic level imaging of the small intestine.

The tethered capsule, which is of the size of a multivitamin pill, is built around a Fourier domain OCT system that facilitates noninvasive imaging of the walls and folds over the entire 20-cm length of the small intestine.

Once swallowed, the capsule can pass down naturally through the digestive tract and can be controlled as well as pulled back by the tether, providing high resolution images both on the way up and down without the need to sedate the patient.

The capsule offers a convenient and non-invasive way to provide high resolution images of the duodenum lining (transverse resolution of 30 µm and axial resolution of 20 µm) as compared to conventional endoscopic biopsies. The results from the first human study suggest that tethered capsule OCT endomicroscopy may become a powerful minimally invasive tool for screening and diagnosis of celiac disease, Gora said.

From customized rapid prototyping for the automotive, food, and aerospace industries, 3D printing technologies are now fast finding applications in the booming medical and life sciences field. The growing interest of researchers in the use of 3D printing for healthcare applications ranging from customizable laboratory microscopes to bio-printed organs was evident during the Sunday evening poster session.

One of the posters that drew a lot of attention highlighted recent research work undertaken by Craig Brideau and others on a team at the University of Calgary on using 3D printing technologies in laboratory settings for basic health science research (9329-103).

They presented an overview of various existing 3D printing technologies like polymer jet printing, fused deposition modelling, selective laser sintering, and stereolithography and demonstrated how these techniques could be used for customization of existing laboratory equipment such as adapters for combining devices, guides, and holders for animal handling, microscopy, sample preparation, MRI, etc.

The poster session underlined how the parallel development of high-tech 3D printers with microscopic accuracy along with the growing demand and applications in the medical field are all opening up doors to a whole new world of personalized healthcare.

Charting a course from academia to a job in the photonics industry isn't a direct path for many. Three successful professionals in the industrial sector shared their winding journeys from graduate school to the executive office at a professional development session over the weekend.

Castor Optics co-founder Caroline Boudoux, Edmund Optics President and CEO Sam Sadoulet, and Tornado Spectral Systems VP of technology commercialization Aaron Weinroth (from left above) said they advanced their careers by acquiring the right skillsets inside and outside of academia, networking, and taking advantage of opportunities to solve problems.

"I have never charted my course in the photonics industry," Weinroth told a group of mostly students at professional development workshop called "Charting a Course in the Photonics Industry."

Yet, he learned marketing skills at a small company that didn't have a marketing department, became a shipping expert when his employer needed someone to make an important shipment to a customer, and generally took on new responsibilities whenever he saw the need. There's no right way to plan your career, he told the audience.

While their job histories reveal much on-the-job training, the three agreed there are some things that young professionals can - and perhaps should do, especially with some sobering statistics showing that only 12% of PhDs attain academic positions.

Sadoulet advised grad students, early career professionals, and post-docs to keep their options open at every phase of their career. He suggested getting involved in activities at school outside your field; being ready and willing to adapt to new situations; and making it a point to learn how to listen to others. "If I had to break down my day, it's 90% listening," he said.

Boudoux, who is also a professor at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, likewise counseled keeping an open mind to possible career options and changes and to be fearless about learning new things. Although her education and expertise is in medical imaging, Boudoux said she wound up learning all about fiber optics, electronics, and manufacturing in her role at Castor.

SPIE leadership and members of the Chinese Optical Society (COS) had a networking luncheon on Sunday to discuss goals for both societies. Pictured left to right are, standing, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs, SPIE President-Elect Bob Lieberman, Professor Xiudong-Sun, Chair of Department of Physics, Harbin Institute of Technology, and member of the COS council; Professor Yunfeng Xiao, Peking University; and, seated, SPIE President Toyohiko Yatagai, and COS Secretary General and professor at Peking University Qihuang Gong.

Dozens of conferences drew opening-day audiences to SPIE Photonics West beginning early Saturday morning for talks on new developments for imaging the brain at the cellular level, technologies to bring healthcare to remote, underserved areas of the world, and more.

A larger-than-ever number of registrants were on hand for talks as well the weekend BiOS Expo, the first of the week's professional development courses, an industry program, celebration of the International Year of Light -- and much networking.

Saturday evening brought the ever-popular hot topics session (above), chaired by Sergio Fantini of Tufts University and introduced by BiOS symposium chairs Jim Fujimoto of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rox Anderson, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine.

SPIE President Toyohiko Yatagai (Utsunomiya University) presented Lihong Wang of Washington University in St. Louis with the SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award at the opening of the session. Bruce Tromberg (Beckman Laser Institute, University of California, Irvine) provided a sketch of Dr. Chance's many accomplishment in biomedical optics -- and as an Olympics-winning sailor (from left below, Yatagai, Wang, and Tromberg).

In their talks, BiOS Hot Topics speakers once again previewed the future, sharing their labs' latest technologies for biomedical applications for treating brain disorders, lung, colon, breast, and other cancers, blindness, and other conditions -- and offered inspiration as well. Rafael Yuste noted that the White House BRAIN Initiative should help drive careers for those entering the field of brain research now, and along with David Roberts and other speakers congratulated the crowd for their commitment to providing ever-improved medical care options to the world.

"I love the melting pot that the SPIE has become," Anderson said. "We are actually making a difference for people in the world and what better for the International Year of Light."

Vadim Backman of Northwestern University revealed the first nanoscale measurement, chromatin-based, label-free assessment of cancer's activity inside cells.

The approach looks at chromatin structure to address fundamental problems in cancer biology. Analysis of interference spectra is converted to statistical properties, and inside one minute the system can image 100 cells, showing architecture of the nuclei and very small changes in nanoscale chromatin modifications in real time.

Spectral analysis reveals changes in nuclear and cell architecture an order of magnitude below the resolution of conventional microscopy, while the technique lets physicians identify pre-cancerous tissue that would otherwise be missed.

Backman said test kits will reach the U.S. medical marketplace as early as 2016, starting with a target of heavy smokers with colon cancer screening tests to follow soon.

Brett Bouma, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, gave an upbeat talk on how diagnostic procedures using optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology have become the gold standard for detecting diseases of the eye, heart and gastrointestinal tract, looking for disease in the body -- without incisions.

Advances in endoscopic OCT have included a 20-fold increase in image speed, now producing 3,000 frames per second, he said. Other advances include new probes such as tethered capsules, polarization sensitive imaging, and uses in biopsy guidance.

The technique has been in use since the 1990s in animals and in humans since 2002. But the clinical community was skeptical until studies in 2003 showed ways to obtain dramatically higher speed imaging of tissues over a wider field of view.

Illustrations showed how doctors used the technique to diagnose hidden diseases, and can achieve a 20-fold increase in image speed, to 3,000 frames per second with a scanning laser to show glitches in heart activity or to improve images of capillaries, say, in the esophagus or the lungs, or to spot for inflammation after a stent is in place.

OCT can produce an image in 100 microseconds, tracking heart pulses, Bouma noted. "This is just one of a great surge of advances throughout the world," he said.

Paola Taroni, a professor at the Politenico di Milano, told the audience of about 800 about a 218-patient study on collagen using light at specific wavelengths as a noninvasive way to look for breast cancer.

Collagen is important because it is a major constituent of stromal tissue, which determines breast density, a risk factor in breast cancer. Her group devised a collagen index based on the amount of collagen in the tissue and have found that high collagen content has a high correlation with malignant lesions.

She said that high false positive rates -- up to 30 percent, for benign cells -- showed a need for better non-invasive discrimination of malignant lesions. (For more, see the Journal of Biomedical Optics article, June 2013).

David Roberts of the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center urged the optical-scientist audience to "recruit your enthusiasm" by bringing information to neurosurgeons about the benefits of fluorescence-guided procedures on intracranial tumors. Neurosurgeons can't always find all traces of disease with white or blue light, he said, but fluorophore technology can identify tumor cells and guide resections of intracranial tumors while protecting functional tissue.

Roberts noted that "99 percent of neurosurgeons have no appreciation for the information that can be obtained from these fluorescent signals. We need to bring this information into the operating room."

A head-up display can guide a surgeon facing a malignant tumor and "suspicious areas" to see images from a probe "without disrupting the flow of surgical procedure, and with wide-field imaging."

Richard Rosen of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary showed the power of adaptive optics (AO) techniques to detect glaucoma and problems with the eye's rods and cones and to reveal the great complexity of retinal diseases.

These OCT techniques have been used in clinical diagnosis since 1990, using an approach first used "to take the twinkle out of stars" in astronomy. They've been applied to the eye since 1997, to view individual rod cells at 2 microns in vivo. "AO eliminates the blur in images, showing the capillaries more clearly," he said, and can even reveal microaneurysms and how they progress in the retina.

This can explain what has gone wrong with photoreceptors, and can identify cones as candidates for gene therapy. It can reveal the cell-level basis of glaucoma, and gives hope of being able to look at "border zones."

Peter So of MIT delved into sophisticated statistical methods in his talk on nonlinear microscopy. So explained how to come up with a maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) through analysis with multiple measurements from multiple imaging and microscopy techniques.

Many people suffering from diseases such as epilepsy, autism, or are diagnosed with schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's disease that cannot be helped because we do not understand how the brain works, noted Rafael Yuste of Columbia University. So scientists are working on methodologies to study the brain, visualize neurons, and map the connections, in order to comprehend neural circuitry in its entirety and develop treatments.

Neuroscientists are currently able to visualize neuron activity using calcium imaging, based on changes in fluorescence intensity or spectral properties of a dye that is sensitive to fluctuations in intracellular calcium concentrations, which is directly related with neuron activity. This method works in live animals, using a window in their skull. Nonlinear microscopy provides the ability to image deeper inside the brain.

The Yuste group is now working on expanding this technique to fast 3D imaging in the brains of living animals. Until not long ago, 3D visualization was only achievable by sequentially scanning different focal planes, which is very time-consuming. The implementation of holographic methods in their microscope can bring a solution.

The use of a spatial light modulator allows them to simultaneously record the fluorescence of a predefined set of neurons in different focal planes. The next step is to work on miniaturizing the microscope and word toward a device that can be used in humans.

Yuste noted the involvement of his work with the White House BRAIN initiative, with goals to develop methods to monitor the activity of every neuron in a piece of brain, manipulate and alter the neuronal circuits, and model the neurons and their connection in order to understand how the brain works. This could lead to better diagnostics and eventually to better understanding of pathology for better therapeutics.

Keynote speakers in a conference on Optogenetics and Optical Control of Cells described recent advances in the field, including mapping brain function and developing soft devices for treating brain tissue.

John Rogers, Swanlund Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, covered key developments in implantable wireless optoelectronic systems (9305-300). The need, he said, is for optoelectronics that create “minimal disruption to the living tissues.”

Rogers and his team, in partnership with Michael Bruchas at Washington University in St. Louis, have developed ultrathin, flexible optoelectronic devices including LEDs the size of individual neurons, sensors, and electrodes, which are delivered into the brain with a thin, releaseable micro-injection needle. The results from such studies, he said, could have implications for treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety, and other neurological disorders, Rogers said.

Optogenetics “can map and fix the brain,” said afternoon keynote speaker Ed Boyden, a research leader at the MIT Media Lab (9305-307). “We are developing technologies that enable the systematic mapping and engineering of the brain and the computations that it performs,” he said.

Boyden described the benefits and functioning of an important group of proteins, called channelrhodopsins, which enable light of certain wavelengths to control various cellular processes. That phenomenon could potentially be used to treat a wide range of human medical conditions, including blindness and Alzheimer's disease. Channelrhodopsin proteins have been cloned from algae.

“Ultimately we are hoping to create neuro technologies that enable the correction of brain disorders that affect over a billion people worldwide, and to provide insights into how the brain generates thoughts and feelings -- essential to understanding the human condition.”

the conference on Optics and Biophotonics in Low-Resource Settings, Christophe Millien of the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais in Haiti described a handheld, smartphone-based colposcope system used by mobile clinics that is enabling screening for cervical cancer -- and resulting in a saving of lives -- among a high-risk and underserved population (9314-9).

As has been noted, Millien said, "poverty is a carcinogen." Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer death for women all across the developing world in communities where there are no clinics or doctors, and often screening often is done by visualization with the naked eye. Haiti is estimated to have a rate of cervical cancer 10 times higher than, for example, the state of Kentucky in the USA.

The modified smartphone and accompanying software provide an easy-to-use, easily transportable mobile colposcope with which nurses and midwives can capture and share detailed images with doctors in Haiti and the USA, resulting in more accurate diagnoses and successful treatment.

A giant display in the lobby outside Hall D in Moscone North is one of several installations at SPIE Photonics West celebrating the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. The hallway between North and South Moscone is lined with more, and information on how to get involved is available at the IYL information desk next to the North lobby display wall.

The SPIE Bookstore in the North entrance to Photonics West is stocked with new (see below) and recent titles from SPIE Press as well as International Year of Light t-shirts and gifts for the youngsters.

The world's largest biomedical optics and biophotonics exhibition kicked off the Photonics West week, showcasing the latest technologies from more than 220 companies in the thriving biomedical optics and photonics industries. See more BiOS Expo photos in the exhibition gallery.

Hyeongeun Kim, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, discusses his poster, "Wide-range imaging based on dual scanning handheld OCT probe," from the conference on Design and Performance Validation of Phantoms Used in Conjunction with Optical Measurement of Tissue. Other authors include Sungwon Shin, Yubin Son, and Woonggyu Jung of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and Pil Un Kim, Oz-tec Co., Ltd. See more photos in the SPIE event photo gallery.

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