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Celebrating LightDay 2024

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The International Day of Light, observed annually on 16 May, is a unique opportunity to celebrate the incredible ways that light science impacts people’s lives. To commemorate the day, OPN has put together several stories from the past year that showcase the experience of working in optics, and how light science is driving advances across applications in health care, environment, information technology and more.

[Note: Some OPN articles are available only to Optica members. Become a member now for full access to OPN—and a lot more!]

  • Research News

    Toward Germ-Killing Touch Screens

    A transparent nanostructured copper surface, which can be deposited on glass, killed over 99.9% of Staphylococcus aureus within 2 hours. 

    [09 May 2024]
  • Research News

    Lidar Takes a Closer Look at Clouds

    High-resolution technique enables remote monitoring of atmospheric processes that influence weather and climate.

    [02 May 2024]
  • Research News

    Photonic Crystals Pick Up Single Nanoparticles

    Cavity coupled to an optical fiber shows promise as a compact sensor of air pollutants and biomolecules. 

    [01 May 2024]
  • Conversations

    Bridging the Global Gap in Cancer Detection

    At CLEO, Rebecca Richards-Kortum will talk about how advances in imaging can improve cancer care around the world.

    [01 May 2024]
  • Profile

    Real-World Focus at the Photon Factory

    The ultrafast spectroscopy and micromachining lab at the University of Auckland connects fundamental science with industry applications.

    [01 May 2024]
  • Research News

    Combating the Illegal Ivory Trade with Lasers

    Researchers find that Raman spectroscopy can distinguish between mammoth and elephant tusks, providing a promising method for ivory identification.

    [30 April 2024]
  • Research News

    Seeing Purple in the Search for Alien Life

    Scientists are cataloging the variety of colors and spectral signatures that could indicate life on another planet.

    [24 April 2024]
  • Profile

    Inspiring a Better Future

    Fabian Ruf, the 2023 recipient of the Optica Foundation’s Chang Pivoting Fellowship, is passionate about transforming the world through education.

    [01 April 2024]
  • Research News

    Peering Into Solar Windows

    A detailed study of luminescent solar concentrators suggests that, while they fall short of silicon solar cells in efficiency, they could still have an important role in sustainable energy.

    [23 March 2024]
  • New Views on Battery Diagnostics

    To improve the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, scientists need techniques that offer insights into their internal dynamics.

    [01 March 2024]
  • Conversations

    Fiber Technology for the Future

    Microsoft’s David Richardson will speak at the upcoming OFC conference about recent progress in emerging transmission fibers.

    [01 March 2024]
  • Research News

    A Prototype Pacemaker Powered by Light

    Ultra-thin silicon membrane uses photovoltaics to regulate heartbeats.

    [28 February 2024]
  • Research News

    Metasurface Brings Facial Recognition Down to Size

    Combining a photonic-crystal laser with a nanostructured metasurface delivers a more compact solution for biometric authentication.

    [08 February 2024]
  • Research News

    How UV Light Zaps the Coronavirus

    Light with the shortest wavelengths damages the virus’s RNA and degrades the proteins that bind it to human cells.

    [17 January 2024]
  • Research News

    Revealing Nanoplastics in Bottled Water

    A laser-based technique detects orders of magnitude more plastic nanoparticles in bottled water than previously reported.

    [11 January 2024]
  • Research News

    Keeping Tabs on Cicadas—with Fiber Optics

    In a proof of concept, researchers use distributed acoustic sensing in optical fiber to gather data on a noisy population of insects.

    [30 November 2023]
  • Adaptive Optics: Assessing Vision, Disease and Treatment

    Recent research in using adaptive optics techniques for the human eye enables new scientific insights and clinical applications.

    [01 November 2023]
  • What Computer Vision Can Learn from Insect Vision 

    The superb vision of insects—biospeculatively combining optical preprocessing and small brains—offers an intriguing example for the development of lightweight visual systems for unmanned aircraft systems and other applications.

    [01 November 2023]
  • Conversations

    Sphere Breaks Records in Vegas

    OPN spoke with Stuart Elby, a senior vice president of MSG Ventures, about the technology and development of the new entertainment venue.

    [01 November 2023]
  • Research News

    Flexible Optical Fibers to Study Peripheral Nerves

    Implantable hydrogel fibers enable the use of optogenetics outside the brain in freely moving animals.

    [25 October 2023]
  • Lasers and Optics in Archaeology 

    Optical technologies, from airborne lidar to handheld chemical analyzers, give researchers broad views of ancient civilizations, yet focus down to the smallest shards of glass.

    [01 October 2023]
  • Research News

    Wearable Sentinel for a Silent Maternal Killer

    Wrist-worn prototype uses laser speckle imaging to detect postpartum hemorrhage before it becomes a medical emergency.

    [27 September 2023]
  • Illuminating Wildfire Risk

    As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires, optics is helping researchers better understand the threats—and reduce the impacts.

    [01 September 2023]
  • Careers

    My Path to Becoming a Popular-Science Writer

    An Optica Fellow shares lessons learned along his journey into nonacademic science communication.

    [01 August 2023]
  • Research News

    A “Janus” Thermal Cloak

    “Two-faced” material—a passive device with no moving parts—reportedly can keep cloaked objects, such as electric cars, at moderate temperatures throughout the year.

    [14 July 2023]
  • Research News

    Monitoring Vital Signs with Photonic Radar

    A hybrid approach, demonstrated on a cane toad, combines photonically generated RF signals and lidar for contactless detection of respiration.

    [10 July 2023]
  • Entrepreneurs to Watch

    In a biennial feature, OPN throws the spotlight on a selection of creative scientists and engineers—and the enterprises they’re building.

    [01 July 2023]
  • James Webb Space Telescope: A Sparkling Optical Success

    Superlatives strain to characterize the excellent performance of the astronomical community’s latest infrared telescope, which is beaming back dazzling and confounding images of the universe.

    [01 July 2023]
  • Research News

    Shining Light on Brain-to-Gut Communication

    Smart fibers offer new insights into the interplay between the central and the digestive nervous systems.

    [30 June 2023]
  • Research News

    From Carbon Dioxide to Liquid Fuel

    Photosynthesis-inspired artificial leaves use sunlight to convert the greenhouse gas into alcohols in a single step.

    [02 June 2023]
  • Infographic

    Implanted Lenses

    With an estimated 20 million surgeries performed each year worldwide, cataract extraction is the most common surgical procedure across all medical fields. An implanted intraocular lens helps restore post-cataract vision.

    [01 June 2023]
  • Then and Now

    Optical Brain Imaging

    The beginnings of optical brain imaging focused on overcoming light scattering and inventing effective techniques.

    [01 June 2023]
  • Research News

    NIR Spectroscopy Reveals Food Allergens

    Combining spectral data with a regression model could yield faster detection of contaminants.

    [24 May 2023]
  • Research News

    Imaging Blood Vessels of a Beating Heart

    Combining a speckle imaging technique and a postprocessing method could improve spatial resolution.

    [05 May 2023]
  • International Day of Light

    On 16 May, Light Science Shines

    UNESCO has officially declared 16 May as the International Day of Light. OPN spoke with John Dudley, who spearheaded this initiative, about his vision for the annual event.

    [01 May 2018]

Publish Date: 15 May 2024

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