Digital microscope in your hand

One of the important and widely-used optical instruments, an optical microscope, helps us see small things and tiny detail easily and it is used in various purposes such as education, science, agriculture, and public health.  It typically costs around hundreds US dollars at the cheapest.  It also comes with limited features; for example, you need to pay more if you would like to capture the image or record a video clip and even upload it to the internet to share with others.

μEye's polymer lens. Credit: NECTEC’s Photonics Technology Laboratory.

μEye’s polymer lens. Credit: NECTEC’s Photonics Technology Laboratory.

Realizing that today mobile devices in the form of tablet and smart phone becomes available for everyone and they are embedded with at least one digital camera, would it be much better to transform our mobile device into a digital microscope without the need of additional lens holder sets?

A research team at National Electronics and Computer Technology (NECTEC)’s Photonics Technology Laboratory under Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency have developed a series of polymer lenses called μEye (pronounces as Mu-Eye) based on their proprietary inventions and designs which can transform a smart phone or a tablet into a digital microscopes.  They even got support through a well-known Indiegogo crowdfunding platform.  With the current lens version, available optical magnifications are 25x, 50x, and 100x.  As one side of their μEye’s lenses is flat, the lens shown in the figure below can be directly attached in front of the mobile device’s camera.

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Helping Others Find Light

Those of us who are fortunate to work directly in the photonics or optical technology fields or are members of the wider technical community, already have an innate appreciation of the transformative nature of light-based technologies and the crucial role they place in our daily lives. Light is not something we take for granted; we recognize implicitly how optical technologies have revolutionized medicine, manufacturing communications, and energy. However, while developed countries have benefited tremendously from these advancements, there are many in developing countries that lack basic access to the very technologies that we consider both commonplace and fundamental for existence. For example, more than one-fifth of the world’s 7.3 billion population has no access to electricity, almost 600 million people living in Africa alone. Without electricity families have no clean source of light, having to rely instead on expensive (and dangerous) alternatives like homemade kerosene lamps; families can spend up to 40 percent of their income just on kerosene. With respect to access to communications, less than 20% of the global internet usage comes from Africa. This disparity in technology richness and its detrimental consequences was recently highlighted by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon who noted, “Widespread energy poverty still condemns billions to darkness, ill health and missed opportunities for education and prosperity”.

Credit: SolarAid.

Credit: SolarAid.

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An enlightening wine tasting

Wine is one of life’s most enjoyable pleasures. Light is fundamental to our very survival.  What’s the link between the two? The e-Luminate Foundation explored this as part of a wine tasting experiment to prove whether or not lighting conditions influence our perception of wine.

The experiment consisted in tasting wine under different lights in the prestigious Fellows Dining Room at Gonville & Caius College in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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Discover the Power of Light – Three European Projects Bring Photonics Closer to Society

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. It underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Businesses in the field of photonics and light-based technologies work on solving key societal challenges, such as energy generation and energy efficiency, healthy ageing of the population, climate change, and security. Photonic technologies have major impact on the world economy with a current global market of €300 billion and projected market value of over €600 billion in 2020. But most people around the world has no idea about what Photonics is. Therefore global initiatives such as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) are of vital importance to bring Photonics closer to society.

Three European projects – GoPhoton!, Photonics4All and LIGHT2015 –  share these goals to make Photonics a household word. Their aim is to raise awareness among the public, young people and entrepreneurs of what Photonics is, and how and why Photonics is an essential technology of the future. They want to inspire a new generation of young scientists using Photonics with hands-on activities to promote the excitement of Photonic science and to strengthen networking and collaborations across societies in Europe to promote the EU as the World Hub of Photonics.

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IYL 2015 Events #43 | Week 26 October – 1 November

Find below the activities listed on the IYL 2015 Event Programme starting between 26 October – 1 November. Click on the links for more information on the different activities.

Please note that some last-minute additions to the event programme may not appear here. For an up-to-date overview of IYL 2015 events please visit the IYL 2015 Event Programme.