Volume 5 Issue 1, January 2011

Volume 5 Issue 1

Scientists in the USA have now developed the 'lightfoil' - an optical analogue of the aerofoil. When illuminated by a uniform beam of laser light, radiation pressure causes this carefully shaped microstructure to rotate and take off.

Image courtesy of Jesper Gluckstad.

Article by Swartzlander et.al


Application Note

Research Highlights

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    The unusual nonlinear optical properties of rapidly cooled disordered ferroelectric crystals allow beam spreading to be completely suppressed, irrespective of the beam width and intensity, offering potentially important applications in imaging and all-optical beam control.

    • Andrey Sukhorukov
  • News & Views |

    Spin and charge terahertz excitations in solids are promising for implementing future technologies such as spintronics and quantum computation, but coherently controlling them has been a significant challenge. Researchers have now manipulated coherent spin waves in an antiferromagnet using the intense magnetic field of ultrashort terahertz pulses.

    • Junichiro Kono
  • News & Views |

    Using intricately sculpted light fields to control tiny objects is a well-understood and important technique. Now, the concept of sculpting the object rather than the light field promises to propel light–matter research in an exciting new direction.

    • Jesper Glückstad
  • News & Views |

    ACTMOST, a new initiative subsidized by the European Commission, looks poised to boost microphotonic innovation in Europe.

    • Rachel Won
  • News & Views |

    The demonstration of live video conferencing using quantum key distribution suggests that applications exploiting secure video communication may be just around the corner.

    • Noriaki Horiuchi
  • News & Views |

    Miniature lasers with dimensions approaching the nanoscale could provide the ultimate integrated source of bright and coherent light if losses can be overcome and electrical pumping made efficient.

    • David Pile

Business News


  • Profile |

    When AOptix Technologies was set up in 2000 to exploit adaptive optics in laser communications systems, its future looked bright. But, as Nadya Anscombe finds out, the company has had to adapt to changes in the market and find new applications for its technology.

    • Nadya Anscombe

Industry Perspectives

  • Industry Perspective |

    Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology has allowed the realization of cost-effective, high-performance deformable mirrors for adaptive-optics-enhanced imaging.

    • Thomas Bifano
  • Industry Perspective |

    The advent of ophthalmic imaging instruments equipped with adaptive optics technology now makes it possible to visualize the retina at the cellular level, allowing the early detection of eye diseases.

    • Mark Zacharria
    • , Barbara Lamory
    •  & Nicolas Chateau

Product Highlights


  • Interview |

    Adaptive optics has a huge range of applications. Nadya Anscombe talks to Robert Tyson, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the USA, to find out his views on its future.

    • Nadya Anscombe
  • Interview |

    Light can now be used to raise a wing-shaped refractive object, in a technique analogous to aerodynamic lift. Grover Swartzlander from the Rochester Institute of Technology in the USA told Nature Photonics how his team achieved optical lift using a uniform collimated beam of light.

    • Rachel Won


  • Letter |

    Researchers report the direct observation of ultrafast magnetic dynamics using the magnetic component of highly intense terahertz wave pulses with a time resolution of 8 fs. This concept provides a universal ultrafast method of visualizing magnetic excitations in the electronic ground state.

    • Tobias Kampfrath
    • , Alexander Sell
    • , Gregor Klatt
    • , Alexej Pashkin
    • , Sebastian Mährlein
    • , Thomas Dekorsy
    • , Martin Wolf
    • , Manfred Fiebig
    • , Alfred Leitenstorfer
    •  & Rupert Huber
  • Letter |

    Scientists demonstrate a fully integrated and scalable waveguide chip that can control the polarization and intensity of light using a row of independent atomic junctions. The device may enable quantum states of matter and light to be engineered on a microscopic scale.

    • M. Kohnen
    • , M. Succo
    • , P. G. Petrov
    • , R. A. Nyman
    • , M. Trupke
    •  & E. A. Hinds
  • Letter |

    The diffraction of light scales with wavelength, thereby placing fundamental limits on applications such as imaging, microscopy and communications. Here, researchers experimentally demonstrate scale-free propagation in supercooled structures and cancel diffraction, instead of merely compensating for it, as is the case for most approaches in nonlinear optics.

    • E. DelRe
    • , E. Spinozzi
    • , A. J. Agranat
    •  & C. Conti


  • Article |

    Scientists demonstrate an optical analogue of aerodynamic lift, in which an airfoil-shaped refractive object can be controlled through the radiation pressure induced by refracted and reflected rays of light.

    • Grover A. Swartzlander Jr
    • , Timothy J. Peterson
    • , Alexandra B. Artusio-Glimpse
    •  & Alan D. Raisanen
  • Article |

    Researchers demonstrate a probabilistic noiseless linear amplifier based on photon addition and subtraction. The technique enables coherent states to be amplified to the highest levels of effective gain and final-state fidelity, and could become an essential tool for applications in quantum communication and metrology.

    • A. Zavatta
    • , J. Fiurášek
    •  & M. Bellini



  • Focus |

    Adaptive optics

    Adaptive-optics-enhanced imaging of the retina, clearly showing individual photoreceptors and blood vessels.