Optics

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique that uses a laser and holograms to precisely position numerous tiny particles within seconds, representing a potential new tool to analyze biological samples or create devices using nanoassembly.

The technique, called rapid electrokinetic patterning, is a potential alternative to existing technologies because the patterns can be more quickly and easily changed, said mechanical engineering doctoral student Stuart J. Williams.
It's an idea that has pervaded a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy stories, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, and there are few of us that would deny a couple of hours with one - but is an invisibility cloak actually possible? Although the lightweight, flowing cloak of Harry Potter may be impossible in the near future, scientists are quickly creating and studying new metamaterials - materials with a negative index of refraction - that are paving the way to making invisibility a reality.
Research into the development of invisibility devices has spurred two physicists’ thought on the behaviour of light to overcome the seemingly intractable problem of optical singularities which could soon lead to the manufacturing of a perfect cat’s eye.

A research paper published in a New Journal of Physics’ focus issue ‘Cloaking and Transformation Optics’ called ‘The Transmutation of Singularities in Optical Instruments’, written by Thomas Tyc, Masaryk University, and Ulf Leonhardt, the University of St. Andrews and Singapore National University, shows that it is possible to reflect light from all directions.
Science fiction writers have long envisioned sailing a spacecraft by the optical force of the sun’s light. But, the forces of sunlight are too weak to fill even the oversized sails that have been tried. Now a team led by researchers at the Yale School of Engineering&Applied Science has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines — when the process is scaled to nano-proportions. 
 
Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.
 
Multiple high-definition videos and other data-rich services may soon stream through homes, offices, ships and planes via new hybrid optical/ultra-wideband-radio systems developed by European researchers.

Moshe Ran, Coordinator of the EU-funded project, UROOF (Photonic components for Ultra-wideband Radio Over Optical Fiber), has a vision. He wants to see streams of high-definition video and other high-bandwidth services flowing through homes, office buildings, and even ships and planes, through a happy marriage of optical and ultra-wideband radio technologies.

“It’s a natural combination that can bring a lot of advantages to the world,” says Ran.
The name has been around for four decades, but only now is a recognizable photonics community emerging in Europe. A European study has documented a fast-growing sector of more than 2100 companies and 700 research laboratories.

In 2005, Europe’s photonics sector earned €43.5 billion and was growing at 12% a year. It employed 246,000 people, accounted for 19% of world production and was already bigger than the semiconductor sector.  Yet, at the same time, the industry was hardly recognized in Europe.
Optical science has taken another leap forward. Increasing amounts of technologies rely on the usage of optic fibers for transmission of phone calls, TV broadcasts, and the internet. Optical fibers allows a higher bandwidth which means faster downloads, and connections.

A team of researchers from Clemson University, headed by Professor John Ballato, have devised a new optic fiber, containing a silicon core. Their findings, published in Optics Express (1), have propelled optic science into a new wave of applications for optic fibers.

ASCOT, England, October 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at the Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde, have started work on a 3.5 year project to develop a novel solid-state laser design incorporating CVD (chemical vapour deposition) diamond manufactured by Element Six Ltd. Element Six leads the world in the field of CVD diamond synthesis and its application.

LBG J2135-0102 (also known as the "Cosmic Eye" due to its morphological similarity to the Egyptian "Eye of Horus") was discovered from a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image in an effort to survey high redshift galaxy clusters. This galaxy is a typical star-forming galaxy at z=3 (seen when the Universe was only two billion years old) which has been gravitationally lensed by a factor 28x by a foreground galaxy cluster. The discovery paper can be found in Smail et al. (2007) ApJL 654 33 , whilst the detailed lens modelling used to correct for the lensing distortion is available in Dye et al. (2007) MNRAS 379 308.

This Cosmic Eye has given scientists a unique insight into galaxy formation in the very early Universe.

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have tested an ‘invisibility cloak’ that could reduce the risk of large water waves overtopping coastal defences.

Mathematicians at Liverpool, working with physicists at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille Universite have found that coastal defences could be made ‘invisible' when water is guided through a special structure made of metamaterials.

Metamaterial was first invented by Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London where scientists discovered that this unique structure could bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves – around a spherical space, making an object within this region appear invisible.