A bio-friendly nano-sized light source capable of emitting coherent light across the visible spectrum, has been invented by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energys Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California at Berkeley. Among the many potential applications of this nano-sized light source, once the technology is refined, are single cell endoscopy and other forms of subwavelength bio-imaging, integrated circuitry for nanophotonic technology, and new advanced methods of cyber cryptography.
Working with individual nanowires, weve developed the first electrode-free, continuously tunable coherent visible light source thats compatible with physiological environments, said chemist Peidong Yang, one of the principal investigators behind this project, and a leading nanoscience authority who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Labs Molecular Foundry and Materials Sciences Division, and the UC Berkeley Chemistry Department.
Weve also demonstrated that it is possible to trap and manipulate single nanowires with optical tweezers, a critical capability not only for bio-imaging but also for wiring together nanophotonic circuitry.
Jan Liphardt, a biophysicist who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeleys Physics Department, was another principal investigator for this research.
This nanowire light source is like having a tiny flashlight that we can potentially scan across a living cell, visualizing the cell while mechanically interacting with it, Liphardt said.
Yang and Liphardt were among the co-authors of a paper that is featured on the cover of the June 28, 2007 edition of the journal /Nature./ The paper is entitled: Tunable Nanowire Nonlinear Optical Probe. Other authors of the paper were Yuri Nakayama, Peter Pauzauskie, Aleksandra Radenovic, Robert Onorato and Richard Saykally.