Optics

New information about a link between the growth of blood vessels critical to the spread of cancer and the copper in our bodies has been discovered by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, using a beamline at the Advanced Photon Source.

Growing new blood vessels from existing ones — a process called angiogenesis — is important in growth, development and wound healing. But it also enables the spread of tumors throughout the body, so researchers have been scrambling for ways to stop angiogenesis in the fight against cancer.

One element critical to blood vessel growth is copper, a vital nutrient that plays important roles in many life processes.

In work that could lead to completely new devices, systems and applications in computing and telecommunications, MIT researchers are bringing the long-sought goal of "optics on a chip" one step closer to market.

In the January 2007 inaugural issue of the journal Nature Photonics, the team reports a novel way to integrate photonic circuitry on a silicon chip. Adding the power and speed of light waves to traditional electronics could achieve system performance inconceivable by electronic means alone.


Illustration of MIT's solution to polarization sensitivity, which until now prohibited most real-world applications of 'optics on a chip.' (Graphic courtesy of Tymon Barwicz, MIT)