October 2015


Crowdsourcing photonics experiment to study air pollution

A Europe-wide photonics experiment has begun that crowdsources data from members of public to further understand how air pollution affects the environment and human health.

The experiment will see thousands of people across Europe transform their mobile phones into a scientific tool – through use of an attachment and a mobile app – allowing them to measure pollutant particles in locations that have not yet been monitored with existing technologies.


Finishing school for optics

Polishing is one of the most important stages of transforming optical material into a finished component capable of controlling light in the desired manner. The grinding and polishing technique will depend largely on what the optic  will be used for, although to a certain extent advanced polishing capabilities are useless without the ability to test the finished product. Therefore, a lot of the progress being made in optical manufacture concerns metrology, as new polishing processes cannot be developed without the equipment to test them.


Easy on the eye

The inroads being made by photonics into a range of novel biomedical applications are plain to see in market forecasts and research publications; but in ophthalmology clinics the impact is already more concrete.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) gave lasers a first foothold in ophthalmology in the early 1990s, not just for its ability to provide images of the retina, but also thanks to its neat fit within the culture and work-flows of treatment centres. Ever since, photonics has been exploited in increasingly ingenious ways for both the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.