Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Optical fiber


Laser scanning technology is one of the most integral parts of today’s scientific research, manufacturing, defense, and biomedicine. In many applications, high-speed scanning capability is essential for scanning a large area in a short time and multi-dimensional sensing of moving objects and dynamical processes with fine temporal resolution. Unfortunately, conventional laser scanners are often too slow, resulting in limited precision and utility. Here we present a new type of laser scanner that offers ∼1,000 times higher scan rates than conventional state-of-the-art scanners. This method employs spatial dispersion of temporally stretched broadband optical pulses onto the target, enabling inertia-free laser scans at unprecedented scan rates of nearly 100 MHz at 800 nm. To show our scanner’s broad utility, we use it to demonstrate unique and previously difficult-to-achieve capabilities in imaging, surface vibrometry, and flow cytometry at a record 2D raster scan rate of more than 100 kHz with 27,000 resolvable points.

Concepts: Computer graphics, Scanner, Optical fiber, Optics, Flow cytometry, Time, Scan, 3D scanner


Optical telecommunication employs light pulses travelling down optical fibres; in a binary format logical Ones and Zeroes are represented by the presence or absence of a light pulse in a given time slot, respectively. The fibre’s data-carrying capacity must keep up with increasing demand, but for binary coding it now approaches its limit. Alternative coding schemes beyond binary are currently hotly debated; the challenge is to mitigate detrimental effects from the fibre’s nonlinearity. Here we provide proof-of-principle that coding with solitons and soliton molecules allows to encode two bits of data per clock period. Solitons do not suffer from nonlinearity, rather, they rely on it; this endows them with greater robustness. However, they are universally considered to be restricted to binary coding. With that notion now refuted, it is warranted to rethink future systems.

Concepts: Refractive index, 0, Polarization, Vector soliton, Optical fiber, Dispersion, Time, Binary numeral system


We have developed a pen and writing tablet for use by subjects during fMRI scanning. The pen consists of two jacketed, multi-mode optical fibers routed to the tip of a hollowed-out ball-point pen. The pen has been further modified by addition of a plastic plate to maintain a perpendicular pen-tablet orientation. The tablet is simply a non-metallic frame holding a paper print of continuously varying color gradients. The optical fibers are routed out of the MRI bore to a light-tight box in an adjacent control room. Within the box, light from a high intensity LED is coupled into one of the fibers, while the other fiber abuts a color sensor. Light from the LED exits the pen tip, illuminating a small spot on the tablet, and the resulting reflected light is routed to the color sensor. Given a lookup table of position for each color on the tablet, the coordinates of the pen on the tablet may be displayed and digitized in real-time. While simple and inexpensive, the system achieves sufficient resolution to grade writing tasks testing dysgraphic and dyslexic phenomena.

Concepts: Learning disability, Dysgraphia, Writing, Refraction, Optical fiber, Pen, Dyslexia, Light


A fiber optic sensor developed for the measurement of tendon forces was designed, numerically modeled, fabricated, and experimentally evaluated. The sensor incorporated fiber Bragg gratings and micro-fabricated stainless steel housings. A fiber Bragg grating is an optical device that is spectrally sensitive to axial strain. Stainless steel housings were designed to convert radial forces applied to the housing into axial forces that could be sensed by the fiber Bragg grating. The metal housings were fabricated by several methods including laser micromachining, swaging, and hydroforming. Designs are presented that allow for simultaneous temperature and force measurements as well as for simultaneous resolution of multi-axis forces.The sensor was experimentally evaluated by hydrostatic loading and in vitro testing. A commercial hydraulic burst tester was used to provide uniform pressures on the sensor in order to establish the linearity, repeatability, and accuracy characteristics of the sensor. The in vitro experiments were performed in excised tendon and in a dynamic gait simulator to simulate biological conditions. In both experimental conditions, the sensor was found to be a sensitive and reliable method for acquiring minimally invasive measurements of soft tissue forces. Our results suggest that this sensor will prove useful in a variety of biomechanical measurements.

Concepts: Diffraction grating, Test method, Bragg's law, In vitro, Experiment, Diffraction, Optical fiber, Fiber Bragg grating


We have investigated the influences of aluminum and gallium dopants (0 to 2.0 mol%) on zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films regarding crystallization and electrical and optical properties for application in transparent conducting oxide devices. Al- and Ga-doped ZnO thin films were deposited on glass substrates (corning 1737) by sol–gel spin-coating process. As a starting material, AlCl3.6H2O, Ga(NO3)2, and Zn(CH3COO)2.2H2O were used. A lowest sheet resistance of 3.3 x 103 [greek capital letter omega]/[white square] was obtained for the GZO thin film doped with 1.5 mol% of Ga after post-annealing at 650 [degree sign]C for 60 min in air. All the films showed more than 85 % transparency in the visible region. We have studied the structural and microstructural properties as a function of Al and Ga concentrations through X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy analysis. In addition, the optical bandgap and photoluminescence were estimated.

Concepts: Scanning electron microscope, Optical fiber, Aluminium, X-ray crystallography, Electron, Zinc oxide, X-ray, Zinc


BACKGROUND: The efficacy and safety of rigid pericardial endoscopy as the promising minimally invasive approach to the pericardial space was evaluated. Techniques for cell transplantation, epicardial pacemaker lead implantation, and epicardial ablation were developed. METHODS: Two swine and 5 canines were studied to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rigid pericardial endoscopy. After a double pericardiocentesis, a transurethral rigid endoscope was inserted into the pericardial space. The technique to obtain a clear visual field was examined, and acute complications such as hemodynamic changes and the effects on intra-pericardial pressure were evaluated. Using custom-made needles, pacemaker leads, and forceps, the applications for cell transplantation, epicardial pacemaker lead implantation, and epicardial ablation were also evaluated. RESULTS: The use of air, the detention of a stiff guide wire in the pericardial space, and the stretching of the pericardium with the rigid endoscope were all useful to obtain a clear visual field. A side-lying position also aided observation of the posterior side of the heart. As a cell transplantation methodology, we developed an ultrasonography-guided needle, which allows for the safe visualization of transplantation without major complications. Pacemaker leads were safely and properly implanted, which provides a better outcome for cardiac resynchronizing therapy. Furthermore, the success of clear visualization of the pulmonary veins enabled us to perform epicardial ablation. CONCLUSIONS: Rigid pericardial endoscopy holds promise as a safe method for minimally invasive cell transplantation, epicardial pacemaker lead implantation, and epicardial ablation by allowing clear visualization of the pericardial space.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Effectiveness, Safety, Pericardium, Minimally invasive, Artificial pacemaker, Endoscopy, Heart


Camera-guided instruments, such as endoscopes, have become an essential component of contemporary medicine. The 15-20 million endoscopies performed every year in the United States alone demonstrate the tremendous impact of this technology. However, doctors heavily rely on the visual feedback provided by the endoscope camera, which is routinely compromised when body fluids and fogging occlude the lens, requiring lengthy cleaning procedures that include irrigation, tissue rubbing, suction, and even temporary removal of the endoscope for external cleaning. Bronchoscopies are especially affected because they are performed on delicate tissue, in high-humidity environments with exposure to extremely adhesive biological fluids such as mucus and blood. Here, we present a repellent, liquid-infused coating on an endoscope lens capable of preventing vision loss after repeated submersions in blood and mucus. The material properties of the coating, including conformability, mechanical adhesion, transparency, oil type, and biocompatibility, were optimized in comprehensive in vitro and ex vivo studies. Extensive bronchoscopy procedures performed in vivo on porcine lungs showed significantly reduced fouling, resulting in either unnecessary or ∼10-15 times shorter and less intensive lens clearing procedures compared with an untreated endoscope. We believe that the material developed in this study opens up opportunities in the design of next-generation endoscopes that will improve visual field, display unprecedented antibacterial and antifouling properties, reduce the duration of the procedure, and enable visualization of currently unreachable parts of the body, thus offering enormous potential for disease diagnosis and treatment.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Blood, In vitro, Bronchoscopy, Endoscopy, In vivo


Fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) with naturally exceptional selectivity is a powerful technique and widely used in chemical and biomedical analysis. However, it is still challenging for conventional FRET to perform as a high sensitivity compact sensor. Here we propose a novel ‘FRET on Fiber’ concept, in which a partially reduced graphene oxide (prGO) film is deposited on a fiber-optic modal interferometer, acting as both the fluorescent quencher for the FRET and the sensitive cladding for optical phase measurement due to refractive index changes in biochemical detection. The target analytes induced fluorescence recovery with good selectivity and optical phase shift with high sensitivity are measured simultaneously. The functionalized prGO film coated on the fiber-optic interferometer shows high sensitivities for the detections of metal ion, dopamine and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), with detection limits of 1.2 nM, 1.3 μM and 1 pM, respectively. Such a prGO based ‘FRET on fiber’ configuration, bridging the FRET and the fiber-optic sensing technology, may serve as a platform for the realization of series of integrated ‘FRET on Fiber’ sensors for on-line environmental, chemical, and biomedical detection, with excellent compactness, high sensitivity, good selectivity and fast response.

Concepts: Light, Refractive index, Ultraviolet, Molecular biology, Optical fiber, Förster resonance energy transfer, Fluorescence, DNA


To enable high-speed underwater wireless optical communication (UWOC) in tap-water and seawater environments over long distances, a 450-nm blue GaN laser diode (LD) directly modulated by pre-leveled 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) data was employed to implement its maximal transmission capacity of up to 10 Gbps. The proposed UWOC in tap water provided a maximal allowable communication bit rate increase from 5.2 to 12.4 Gbps with the corresponding underwater transmission distance significantly reduced from 10.2 to 1.7 m, exhibiting a bit rate/distance decaying slope of -0.847 Gbps/m. When conducting the same type of UWOC in seawater, light scattering induced by impurities attenuated the blue laser power, thereby degrading the transmission with a slightly higher decay ratio of 0.941 Gbps/m. The blue LD based UWOC enables a 16-QAM OFDM bit rate of up to 7.2 Gbps for transmission in seawater more than 6.8 m.

Concepts: Amplitude modulation, Frequency-division multiplexing, Data transmission, Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing, Phase-shift keying, Quadrature amplitude modulation, Optical fiber, Modulation


Recently, a great deal of interest has been re-emerged on the possibility to manipulate surface waves, in particular, towards the THz and optical regime. Both concepts of Transformation Optics (TO) and metamaterials have been regarded as one of key enablers for such applications in applied electromagnetics. In this paper, we experimentally demonstrate for the first time a dielectric surface wave cloak from engineered gradient index materials to illustrate the possibility of using nanocomposites to control surface wave propagation through advanced additive manufacturing. The device is designed analytically and validated through numerical simulations and measurements, showing good agreement and performance as an effective surface wave cloak. The underlying design approach has much wider applications, which span from microwave to optics for the control of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) and radiation of nanoantennas.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Refraction, Refractive index, Metamaterial, Optics