The Biomedical Optics Symposium

The Biomedical Optics Symposium, held this week in San Jose, CA, saw over 150 companies ply their wares at the weekend trade exhibition. The event showcased a host of innovative component, subsystem and OEM products for all manner of biophotonic applications.

One eye-catching new offering was the ZoroLight LED multiplexer, a product that's being pushed for applications in fluorescence studies and high-throughput screening. Developed by Bookham (Santa Rosa, CA), an optical component/subsystem vendor traditionally associated with telecoms and industrial markets, ZoroLight can incorporate up to six LEDs in a compact module (device length typically varies from 80 to 200 mm depending on the number of LEDs).

Another neat subsystem launch is a family of white-light lasers from TOPTICA Photonics of Germany. There are three variants - widely tunable visible lasers, visible supercontinuums and IR supercontinuums - all combining "the brilliance of lasers and the bandwidth of lamps", according to the press release.

For its part, TOPTICA is lining up applications in microscopy and expects the flexibility in wavelength to be exploited in two-colour experiments and time-resolved photon counting, for example. The broadband supercontinuums are generated in photonic-crystal fibres or highly nonlinear fibres, while individual lines can be extracted from the visible supercontinuum by using acousto-optical tunable filters.

According to the spec sheet, the total power in the infrared supercontinuum (range 1000-2100 nm) is typically 150 mW; the tunable visible laser has a bandwidth of 1 nm, a tuning range of 485-700 nm, and power between 1-10 mW; and the visible supercontinuum spectrum ranges from 530-1000 nm with a total power of typically 40 mW.

At the system level, meanwhile, one of the more notable launches is the femtOgene laser microscope, billed as a "unique optical tool for nanobiotechnology, gene therapy and stem-cell research". Developed by JenLab, Germany, in collaboration with Austria's Femtolasers Produktions, the femtOgene is described as an ultracompact scanning nonlinear optical microscope with galvoscanners for beam scanning and focusing optics equipped with large-NA objectives (40x/1.3).

The instrument is based on a sub-20-femtosecond near-IR laser with high-order dispersion compensation, a technology that's said to overcome the problems of beam fluctuations observed in femtosecond laser systems based on prism technology. Specific applications for femtOgene will include optical "nanoinjection" of macromolecules; optical knock-out of cell organelles; and intracellular chromosome dissection.

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