Optics and photonics are utilized in numerous medical devices that help to save lives. Imaging equipment used for CAT, MRI and PET scans, as well as mammography, aid in the diagnosis of disease. Laser and optical techniques enable fundamentals ranging from research and technology development, to biomedical studies, to clinical applications.
Microscopy and Optical Coherence Tomography
Optical tools are well suited to the study of biology because the attainable spatial resolution matches so closely to the length scale of cells and sub-cellular features. Through continuous advances in imaging capabilities and contrast mechanisms optics enable development and application of new techniques for micrometer-scale structural and functional imaging of biological systems. More information: Optics Letters.
Molecular Probes and Nanobio-Optics
Focused on imaging expression patterns of specific genes or the distribution of particular proteins in an intact biological system, these technologies include fluorescent proteins, quantum dots and plasmonic nanoparticles. They make it possible to construct nano-scale probes that can be activated to produce therapeutic effects, potentially allowing molecular targeting with the activating light. More information: Biomedical Optics Express.
Optical Biosensors facilitate the detection of compounds for biological threat and contamination alerting. The integration of optical tools, microfluidics, and other lab-on-a-chip technologies, as well as the application of plasmonics and surface enhanced Raman scattering also aid internal discoveries. More information: Optics Letters.
Optical Trapping and Manipulation in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Optical trapping has been widely in the understanding of the movement mechanisms of molecular motors and the forces involved in cell adhesion. Techniques such as evanescent fields and state of the art optical tweezers initiate molecular- and cellular-scale manipulation as well as optical sorting for cell biology. More information: Applied Optics.
Therapeutic Laser Applications
Applications include the use of lasers as surgical tools for tissue cutting, welding, and coagulation, as well as the use of optics to initiate cell-damaging photochemical reactions for the treatment of diseases such as cancer. In addition, optics, spectroscopy, and imaging provide unique tools that may allow real-time diagnostics of the efficacy of clinical procedures. More information: Optics Letters.