Researchers recently used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice, an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine.

 Because it employs commercial lasers and low-cost, mass-production techniques, the researchers believe it will set the stage for new generations of "tabletop" accelerators.

At its full potential, the new "accelerator on a chip" could match the accelerating power of SLAC's 2-mile-long linear accelerator in just 100 feet, and deliver a million more electron pulses per second.

If you want to see Aurora Borealis (the northern lights) in 3-D with your SLR cameras, and even determine the altitude where electrons in the atmosphere emit the light that produces aurora,  Ryuho Kataoka from the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo, Japan can show you how.

Kataoka came up with an idea for a new method to measure the height of aurora borealis after working on a 3D movie for a planetarium. They used two digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras set 8 km apart.

A new type of camera allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before.  It combines a telescope with a large diameter primary mirror is being used for digital photography at its theoretical resolution limit in visible wavelengths – the light that the human eye can see.

The design team has been developing this technology for more than 20 years at observatories in Arizona, most recently at the Large Binocular Telescope, and has now deployed this latest version in the high desert of Chile at the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope.

Light traveling in a vacuum is the ultimate speed demon, moving at about 700 million miles per hour.

Matter cannot exceed the speed of light - unless, perhaps, there is a speed bump in light's path. Researchers from  France's Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis and China's Xiamen University have embedded dye molecules in a liquid crystal matrix to throttle the group velocity of light back to less than one billionth of its top speed. The team says the ability to slow light in this manner may one day lead to new technologies in remote sensing and measurement science. 

Researchers have measured light emitted by photoluminescence from a nanodiamond levitating in free space. 

Their paper describes how they used a laser to trap nanodiamonds in space, and – using another laser – caused the diamonds to emit light at given frequencies.

The experiment, led by Nick Vamivakas, an assistant professor of optics at the University of Rochester, demonstrates that it is possible to levitate diamonds as small as 100 nanometers (approximately one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair) in free space, by using a technique known as laser trapping.  Specifically, nitrogen vacancy (NV) photoluminescence (PL) from a nanodiamond suspended in a free-space optical dipole trap.

Of the estimated 20,000 genes humans have, only a fraction are turned on at any given time. It depends on the cell's needs, which can change by the minute or hour.

Determining what those genes are doing means using tools that can manipulate their status on similarly short timescales and that is now possible with technology developed by the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. It can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene simply by shining light on the cells.

The advance in optogenetics, which uses proteins that change their function in response to light, is possible because researchers adapted light-sensitive proteins to either stimulate or suppress the expression of a specific target gene almost immediately after the light comes on.

X-ray experiments have found chemical traces of the original 'dinobird' Archaeopteryx and dilute traces of plumage pigments in a 150 million-year-old fossil.

Only 11 specimens of Archaeopteryx have been found, the first one consisting of a single feather. Until a few years ago, researchers thought minerals would have replaced all the bones and tissues of the original animal during fossilization, leaving no chemical traces behind, but two studies have turned up more information about this 'dinobird' and its plumage.

My wife’s cousin, the break-dancing radiologist, broke the microphone clip off my mic stand while singing karaoke on Thanksgiving (my wife and I host Thanksgiving at our house for the family every year). I had another microphone clip and replaced it so we could continue with karaoke, but I decided to keep the broken pieces of the old clip for the junk drawer.

Engineers from the University at Buffalo engineers have created technology that could lead to breakthroughs in solar energy, stealth technology and other areas - but they had to catch some rainbows first. 

Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at  the University at Buffalo, and a team of graduate students developed a "hyperbolic metamaterial waveguide," which is essentially an advanced microchip made of alternate ultra-thin films of metal and semiconductors and/or insulators. The waveguide halts and ultimately absorbs each frequency of light, at slightly different places in a vertical direction  to catch a "rainbow" of wavelengths.  

Scientists have created single layers of a naturally occurring rare mineral called tungstenite, or WS2, and the resulting sheet of stacked sulfur and tungsten atoms forms a honeycomb pattern of triangles that have been shown to have unusual light-emitting (photoluminescent) properties.

 According to Mauricio Terrones, a professor of physics and of materials science and engineering at Penn State, the triangular structures have potential applications in optical technology; for example, for use in light detectors and lasers.