Biophotonicsa New Frontier

We live in an era of technological revolutions that continue to impact our lives and constantly redefine the breadth of our social interactions. The past century has witnessed many technological breakthroughs, one of which is photonics. Photonics utilizes photons instead of electrons to transmit, process, and store information and thus provides a tremendous gain in capacity and speed in information technology. Photonics is an all-encompassing light-based optical technology that is being hailed as the dominant technology for this new millennium. The invention of lasers, a concentrated source of monochromatic and highly directed light, has revolutionized photonics. Since the demonstration of the first laser in 1960, laser light has touched all aspects of our lives, from home entertainment, to high-capacity information storage, to fiber-optic telecommunications, thus opening up numerous opportunities for photonics.

A new extension of photonics is biophotonics, which involves a fusion of photonics and biology. Biophotonics deals with interaction between light and biological matter. A general introduction to biophotonics is illustrated in Figure 1.1.

The use of photonics for optical diagnostics, as well as for light-activated and light-guided therapy, will have a major impact on health care. This is not surprising since Nature has used biophotonics as a basic principle of life from the beginning. Harnessing photons to achieve photosynthesis and conversion of photons through a series of complex steps to create vision are the best examples of biophotonics at work. Conversely, biology is also advancing photonics, since biomaterials are showing promise as new photonic media for technological applications.

As an increasingly aging world population presents unique health problems, biophotonics offers great hope for the early detection of diseases and for new modalities of light-guided and light-activated therapies. Lasers have already made a significant impact on general, plastic, and cosmetic surgeries. Two popular examples of cosmetic surgeries utilizing lasers are skin resurfacing

Introduction to Biophotonics, by Paras N. Prasad

ISBN: 0-471-28770-9 Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Photonics Technology for

Biomaterials for Photonics Technology

Photonics Technology for

Biomaterials for Photonics Technology

BioMedical Sciences

Bioimaging/Biosensing Optical diagnostics Light based therapies Tissue engineering Light manipulations of cells

Laser media

Optical communication channels Optical signal processing High capacity data storage

Figure 1.1. Biophotonics as defined by the fusion of photonics and biomedical sciences. The two broad aspects of biophotonics are also identified.

(most commonly known as wrinkle removal) and hair removal. Laser technology also allows one to administer a burst of ultrashort laser pulses that have shown promise for use in tissue engineering. Furthermore, biophotonics may produce retinal implants for restoring vision by reverse engineering Nature's methods.

This book provides an introduction to the exciting new field of biophoton-ics and is intended for multidisciplinary readership. The book focuses on its potential benefits to medicine. An overview of biophotonics for health care applications is presented in Figure 1.2. It illustrates the scope of biophotonics through multidisciplinary comprehensive research and development possibilities. The focus of the book is on optical probing, diagnostics, and light-activated therapies. However, biophotonics in a broad sense also includes the use of biology for photonics technology, such as biomaterials and development of bioinspired materials as photonic media. These topics are also briefly covered in this book.

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