Table of contents


In This Issue

This issue pv




In the limelight p383


Photonics research features heavily in the 2008 Prince of Asturias Awards, where its role in benefiting the environment and combating poverty is celebrated.


Research Highlights

Hyperentanglement, delayed images, exciton logic, and more pp384 - 385



News and Views

Plasmonics: Subwavelength imaging in colour pp387 - 388

Peter Nordlander


A chain of nanorods with weakly damped plasmon resonances is able to perform far-field colour imaging with subwavelength resolution, according to theoretical simulations.

Photonic circuits: Organic integration p388

Rachel Won


Silicon photonics: Lighting up the chip pp389 - 390

Attila Mekis


A tiny GeSi electro-absorption modulator with energy consumption at the femtojoule-per-bit level represents a step towards bringing photonics ever closer to computer chips.

X-ray imaging: Ultrafast diffract-and-destroy movies pp390 - 391

John Spence


Combining optical and X-ray lasers enables imaging with high temporal and spectral resolution. By taking pictures of a succession of exploding targets, a movie can be made charting the dynamics of the solid material on a 10-ps timescale.

Photon counting: Avalanche inspiration pp392 - 393

Gerard Milburn


The ability of a customized avalanche-photodiode detector to distinguish the exact number of photons that it receives will simplify the tools required to perform reliable experiments in quantum optics.

Data storage: Blue laser battle p393

Nadya Anscombe


Photodynamic Therapy: Two photons are better than one pp394 - 395

Stanley Brown


Over the past 20 years photodynamic therapy, a cell-killing technique where a photosensitizing drug is activated by carefully targeted visible light, has led to new therapies for cancer and other diseases. In doing so it has won support from scientists, clinicians and patients alike.

View from...CLEO/QELS 2008: Scientific exploration comes to the fore pp395 - 396

Amber Jenkins


Gravity waves, event horizons and the interplay between light and fluids are just a few of the topics that were touched on at the CLEO/QELS Conference in the USA in May. Nature Photonics reports.

Random lasers: Resonance control pp397 - 398

M. A. Noginov


Random lasers do not have mirrors or optical elements. They often lack a well-defined shape or size, and their emission wavelength is difficult to tune. Now it is shown that the optical resonances in an ensemble of microspheres can provide the crucial element of control.



Ultrafast single-shot diffraction imaging of nanoscale dynamics pp415 - 419

Anton Barty, Sébastien Boutet, Michael J. Bogan, Stefan Hau-Riege, Stefano Marchesini, Klaus Sokolowski-Tinten, Nikola Stojanovic, Ra'anan Tobey, Henri Ehrke, Andrea Cavalleri, Stefan Düsterer, Matthias Frank, Sas carona Bajt, Bruce W. Woods, M. Marvin Seibert, Janos Hajdu, Rolf Treusch & Henry N. Chapman


High-speed imaging gives us a fascinating insight into ultrafast changes in materials. By combining the speed of optical pulses and the short wavelength of X-ray pulses, imaging with 50-nm spatial and 10-ps temporal resolution is possible, with scope to go much further.

Subject Category: Imaging and sensing

See also: News and Views by Spence

Blood-vessel closure using photosensitizers engineered for two-photon excitation pp420 - 424

Hazel A. Collins, Mamta Khurana, Eduardo H. Moriyama, Adrian Mariampillai, Emma Dahlstedt, Milan Balaz, Marina K. Kuimova, Mikhail Drobizhev, Victor X. D. Yang, David Phillips, Aleksander Rebane, Brian C. Wilson & Harry L. Anderson


Two-photon excitation is attractive for photodynamic therapy as it potentially allows deeper penetration within biological tissue and targeting with better precision. However, two-photon cross-sections of light-sensitive drugs are typically small, which has until now limited their practical utility. Now Anderson and colleagues have come up with a new family of light-sensitive drugs that are designed for efficient two-photon excitation. They demonstrate selective closure of blood vessels in mice using one of their new drugs.

Subject Category: Biophotonics

See also: News and Views by Brown

An avalanche-photodiode-based photon-number-resolving detector pp425 - 428

B. E. Kardynal stroke, Z. L. Yuan & A. J. Shields


Determining the exact number of photons in a weak light pulse is an important requirement for many applications in quantum optics. Now, contrary to popular belief, Andrew Shields and colleagues have demonstrated that an avalanche-photodiode detector can perform the task.

Subject Categories: Quantum optics | Optoelectronic devices and components

See also: News and Views by Milburn

Resonance-driven random lasing pp429 - 432

Stefano Gottardo, Riccardo Sapienza, Pedro D. García, Alvaro Blanco, Diederik S. Wiersma & Cefe López


In a random laser, the conventional optical cavity is replaced by light scattering from many particles. The random arrangement of the particles makes it difficult to tune the lasing to a chosen wavelength. However, tuning is possible by controlling the size of the particles.

Subject Categories: Lasers, LEDs and light sources | Fundamental optical physics

See also: News and Views by Noginov

Waveguide-integrated, ultralow-energy GeSi electro-absorption modulators pp433 - 437

Jifeng Liu, Mark Beals, Andrew Pomerene, Sarah Bernardis, Rong Sun, Jing Cheng, Lionel C. Kimerling & Jurgen Michel


A waveguide–integrated GeSi electro-absorption modulator on silicon with an ultra-low energy consumption of 50 fJ–1bit is presented. Operating in the spectral range of 1539—1553 nm, the CMOS–compatible device has an active area of 30 microm2 and is anticipated to be useful for future communication systems based on large–scale electronic–photonic integration on silicon.

Subject Category: Optoelectronic devices and components

See also: News and Views by Mekis



Subwavelength colour imaging with a metallic nanolens pp438 - 442

Satoshi Kawata, Atsushi Ono & Prabhat Verma


A stack of silver nanorods could, according to calculations, be the answer to performing subwavelength colour imaging over far-field distances. The metallic nanolens is designed to operate in the visible wavelength range and by tapering the nanorods, image magnification is also shown to be feasible. If realized such a lens could be useful for imaging applications in the biomedical sciences and other fields.

Subject Categories: Imaging and sensing | Plasmonics | Novel materials and engineered structures

See also: News and Views by Nordlander


Photonics at NPG

Photonics at NPG pp443 - 444

A round-up of recent papers in the field of photonics published by the physical sciences division of the Nature Publishing Group.



Not so random p446

Interview with Diederik Wiersma


Random lasers, as their name implies, are difficult to predict. Nature Photonics spoke to Diederik Wiersma at the European Laboratory for Nonlinear Spectroscopy in Florence, Italy, about taming their random nature.


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