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

Concept: Stimulated emission


Non-invasive optical imaging techniques, such as optical coherence tomography, are essential diagnostic tools in many disciplines, from the life sciences to nanotechnology. However, present methods are not able to image through opaque layers that scatter all the incident light. Even a very thin layer of a scattering material can appear opaque and hide any objects behind it. Although great progress has been made recently with methods such as ghost imaging and wavefront shaping, present procedures are still invasive because they require either a detector or a nonlinear material to be placed behind the scattering layer. Here we report an optical method that allows non-invasive imaging of a fluorescent object that is completely hidden behind an opaque scattering layer. We illuminate the object with laser light that has passed through the scattering layer. We scan the angle of incidence of the laser beam and detect the total fluorescence of the object from the front. From the detected signal, we obtain the image of the hidden object using an iterative algorithm. As a proof of concept, we retrieve a detailed image of a fluorescent object, comparable in size (50 micrometres) to a typical human cell, hidden 6 millimetres behind an opaque optical diffuser, and an image of a complex biological sample enclosed between two opaque screens. This approach to non-invasive imaging through strongly scattering media can be generalized to other contrast mechanisms and geometries.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Optics, Light, Optical fiber, Laser, Medical imaging, Coherence, Stimulated emission


Abstract Background: Recently, tranexamic acid (TNA) containing oral medication has gained public attention, claiming for whitening effects. Objective: This study was performed to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of oral TNA as an adjuvant to intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser treatment in melasma. Methods: A total of 51 patients were included in the study. Patients who have been on oral TNA during IPL and laser treatments (group A) and those who were treated with only IPL and laser (group B) were analyzed (from winter to summer). Modified melasma area and severity index (mMASI) scores were blindly evaluated by two investigators using digital photographs taken at each visit. Results: The mean modified MASI score decreased from 11.33 ± 7.07 to 6.21 ± 5.04 in group A and from 11.70 ± 6.72 to 8.93 ± 5.89 in group B (baseline vs. 2 weeks after the last treatment, p = 0.005). Modified MASI score right before and after IPL were more reduced in group A. No serious adverse effects were reported up to 8 months of oral TNA medication. Conclusion: Oral TNA may improve clinical efficacy in light- or laser-based melasma treatment especially during the period of relative high sun exposure without serious adverse effects.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Ultraviolet, Light, Laser, Stimulated emission, Effectiveness, Infrared, Intense pulsed light


In optogenetics, neurons are genetically modified to become sensitive to light and thus, they can be stimulated or inhibited by light of certain wavelengths. In this work, we describe the fabrication of a polymer-based shaft electrode as a tool for optogenetics. This device can conduct light as well as fluids to a target brain region and record electrical neural signals from the same part of the tissue simultaneously. It is intended to facilitate optogenetic in vivo experiments with those novel multimodal neural probes or polymer optrodes. We used microsystems technology to integrate an SU-8 based waveguide and fluidic channel into a polyimide-based electrode shaft to allow simultaneous optical stimulation, fluid delivery, and electrophysiological recording in awake behaving animals. In a first acute proof-of-concept experiment in genetically modified mice, our device recorded single unit activity that was modulated by laser light transmitted into the tissue via the integrated waveguide.

Concepts: Neuron, Light, Optical fiber, Stimulated emission, In vivo, Neuroscience, Human brain, Fluid


Three-in-one: A novel distyrylbenzene-based material forms J-type aggregates in single crystals with highly polarized and bright red emission, giving rise to optical gain narrowing, for which different mechanisms (amplified spontaneous emission, laser emission and stimulated resonance Raman scattering) are observed. These are correlated with the favorable intrinsic and macroscopic properties of the crystal, in particular to the orientation of the molecules to the crystal surface.

Concepts: Photon, Fundamental physics concepts, Laser, Stimulated emission, Chemistry, Atom, Chemical bond, Scattering


We consider the Rabi oscillation of an atom ensemble of Gaussian spatial distribution interacting with ultrafast laser pulses. Based on an analytical model calculation, we show that its dephasing dynamics is solely governed by the size ratio between the atom ensemble and the laser beam, and that every oscillation peak of the inhomogeneously broadened Rabi flopping falls on the homogeneous Rabi oscillation curve. The results are verified experimentally with a cold rubidium vapor in a magneto-optical trap. As a robust means to achieve higher-fidelity population inversion of the atom ensemble, we demonstrate a spin-echo type Rx(π/2)Ry(π)Rx(π/2) composite interaction as well.

Concepts: Laser, Stimulated emission, Oscillation, Feedback, Quantum optics, Optical pumping, Rabi cycle, Vacuum Rabi oscillation


The recent developments in time-domain diffuse optics that rely on physical concepts (e.g., time-gating and null distance) and advanced photonic components (e.g., vertical cavity source-emitting laser as light sources, single photon avalanche diode, and silicon photomultipliers as detectors, fast-gating circuits, and time-to-digital converters for acquisition) are focused. This study shows how these tools could lead on one hand to compact and wearable time-domain devices for point-of-care diagnostics down to the consumer level and on the other hand to powerful systems with exceptional depth penetration and sensitivity.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Stimulated emission, Diode, Quantum optics, Zener diode


Laser frequency noise contributes a significant limitation to today’s best atomic clocks. A proposed solution to this problem is to create a superradiant laser using an optical clock transition as its gain medium. This laser would act as an active atomic clock and would be highly immune to the fluctuations in reference cavity length that limit today’s best lasers. We demonstrate and characterize superradiant emission from the millihertz linewidth clock transition in an ensemble of laser-cooled (87)Sr atoms trapped within a high-finesse optical cavity. We measure a collective enhancement of the emission rate into the cavity mode by a factor of more than 10,000 compared to independently radiating atoms. We also demonstrate a method for seeding superradiant emission and observe interference between two independent transitions lasing simultaneously. We use this interference to characterize the relative spectral properties of the two lasing subensembles.

Concepts: Optics, Laser, Stimulated emission, Resonance, Laser science, Maser, Atomic clock


The semiconductor laser (SCL) is the principal light source powering the worldwide optical fiber network. The ever-increasing demand for data is causing the network to migrate to phase-coherent modulation formats, which place strict requirements on the temporal coherence of the light source that no longer can be met by current SCLs. This failure can be traced directly to the canonical laser design, in which photons are both generated and stored in the same, optically lossy, III-V material. This leads to an excessive and large amount of noisy spontaneous emission commingling with the laser mode, thereby degrading its coherence. High losses also decrease the amount of stored optical energy in the laser cavity, magnifying the effect of each individual spontaneous emission event on the phase of the laser field. Here, we propose a new design paradigm for the SCL. The keys to this paradigm are the deliberate removal of stored optical energy from the lossy III-V material by concentrating it in a passive, low-loss material and the incorporation of a very high-Q resonator as an integral (i.e., not externally coupled) part of the laser cavity. We demonstrate an SCL with a spectral linewidth of 18 kHz in the telecom band around 1.55 μm, achieved using a single-mode silicon resonator with Q of 10(6).

Concepts: Photon, Quantum mechanics, Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Optical fiber, Laser, Stimulated emission


We describe a novel method for making microbottle-shaped lasers by using a CO2 laser to melt Er:Yb glass onto silica microcapillaries or fibres. This is realised by the fact that the two glasses have different melting points. The CO2 laser power is controlled to flow the doped glass around the silica cylinder. In the case of a capillary, the resulting geometry is a hollow, microbottle-shaped resonator. This is a simple method for fabricating a number of glass whispering gallery mode (WGM) lasers with a wide range of sizes on a single, micron-scale structure. The Er:Yb doped glass outer layer is pumped at 980 nm via a tapered optical fibre and WGM lasing is recorded around 1535 nm. This structure facilitates a new way to thermo-optically tune the microlaser modes by passing gas through the capillary. The cooling effect of the gas flow shifts the WGMs towards shorter wavelengths and thermal tuning of the lasing modes over 70 GHz is achieved. Results are fitted using the theory of hot wire anemometry, allowing the flow rate to be calibrated with a flow sensitivity as high as 72 GHz/sccm. Strain tuning of the microlaser modes by up to 60 GHz is also demonstrated.

Concepts: Light, Optical fiber, Laser, Stimulated emission, Carbon dioxide laser, Infrared, Population inversion, Laser pumping


Rod photoreceptors consist of an outer segment (OS) and an inner segment. Inside the OS a biochemical machinery transforms the rhodopsin photoisomerization into electrical signal. This machinery has been treated as and is thought to be homogenous with marginal inhomogeneities. To verify this assumption, we developed a methodology based on special tapered optical fibers (TOFs) to deliver highly localized light stimulations. By using these TOFs, specific regions of the rod OS could be stimulated with spots of light highly confined in space. As the TOF is moved from the OS base toward its tip, the amplitude of saturating and single photon responses decreases, demonstrating that the efficacy of the transduction machinery is not uniform and is 5-10 times higher at the base than at the tip. This gradient of efficacy of the transduction machinery is attributed to a progressive depletion of the phosphodiesterase along the rod OS. Moreover we demonstrate that, using restricted spots of light, the duration of the photoresponse along the OS does not increase linearly with the light intensity as with diffuse light.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Optics, Light, Stimulated emission, Retina, Photoreceptor cell, Rod cell, Rhodopsin