February 2016

FEATURE

Could photonics be The Force behind a real lightsaber?

The lightsaber, or laser sword, was first introduced to cinema goers in 1977 in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as the weapon used by the Jedi and the Sith.

Although fictional, few can deny that the lightsaber is an ingenious invention. It is compact and lightweight, yet can cut through virtually anything – from metal to human flesh. On screen, lightsabers appear as glowing blades that can deflect blaster bolts and that do not pass through one another during battles.

FEATURE

The future of EUV lithography

The commercial deployment of Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography systems has been hit by years of delays and has met scepticism along the way. But the technical need for EUV lithography has continued to push for the development of production-ready machines – could we be on the brink of a breakthrough?

FEATURE

Is a solution for sepsis in sight?

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a global healthcare problem. More common than heart attacks, and claiming more lives than any cancer, the condition is one the biggest killers in the developed world1. Such a high mortality rate is largely due to the fact that current diagnostic methods cannot diagnose patients in time to treat them.  

FEATURE

The Emperor's new photonics clothes

At some point in human history, ‘wearable technology’ meant wrapping yourself in the hide of the animal that you hunted with a hand-made spear. More recently, LED digital watches topped the 1970s charts for fashionable photonics. But now, wearable technology extends from head to toe, with glasses that project a smartphone screen in front of your eye; contact lenses poised to combine medical sensors with mobile virtual reality; and comfortable textiles integrated with LEDs and photonic sensors that monitor biological functions. 

Looking closer