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Benefits Of Biophotonics

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Alexander Gurwitsch around 1930

Around 1923 Alexander Gurwitsch discovers an "ultraweak" photon emission from living systems (onions, yeast,...), since he suggested connections between photon emission and cell division rate. He calls this photonemission "mitogenetic radiation". His experiments indicate that the wavelength is in the range around 260 nm (Bibliography under Gurwisch and also Ruth (1977, 1979)).

Around 1950: Russian scientists rediscover "ultraweak photon emission" from living organisms. Most results are published in "Biophysics" (engl.) and originally in "Biofizika").( Bibliography under Ruth, 1979).

Italian nuclear physicists discover by chance "bioluminescence" of seedlings. They do not think that this finding is significant, but they publish the results. (Colli et al. 1954, 1955, Ruth 1979).

The Russian biophysicist and the American chemist enunciate the first theory of ultraweak photonemission (UWPE) from biological systems, the so called "imperfection" theory. UWPE shall be an expression of the deviation from equilibrium, some kind of distortion of metabolic processes (Zhuravlev 1972, Seliger 1975, Ruth 1979).

Independently from each other and by different motivations scientific groups in Australia (Quickenden), Germany (Fritz-Albert Popp), Japan (Inaba), and Poland (Slawinski) show evidence of ultraweak photon emission from biological systems by use of modern single-photon counting systems.

Need and Relevance

The field of optics is one of the oldest and most important branches of the sciences. Long before the theory of electromagnetism was developed, optical phenomena were studied, characterized, and used as probes of nature. Since the invention of the laser a half-century ago, this tool has become the preeminent source for all studies involving light. It too has revolutionized countless areas of high technology including telecommunications, data storage, semiconductor manufacturing, healthcare technology, metrology, imaging, and more.

The field of applied biosciences is an emerging discipline at the intersection of molecular and cellular biology, the physical sciences, and materials engineering. Equipped with the tools of modern molecular biology, powerful characterizations, theory, and computation, scientists in this area seek to develop a physical understanding of the exquisite and complex behaviors of biological systems.

The particular focus of the applied biosciences uncovers the biological principles of self-organization, recognition, regulation, replication, communication, and cooperation that characterize living systems, allowing scientists to extend these principles in the synthesis of modern materials. This field has advanced to become a promising area of applied science, blurring the border between traditional scientific disciplines and offering new routes for the design of materials where organization precedes function. The technological promise of applied bioscience includes the health applications of biomedical and biotechnology, but also encompasses a host of novel nanotechnologies.

Currently, data convergence is driving the development of communication systems and services. Therefore, the merging of telecommunications, computing and audiovisual systems, and growth of wide-band services demands explosive increase in the capacity of communication systems. Optical technologies have great potential for the implementation of high-speed systems due to their potential for a decrease in size, weight and power consumption and an increase in speed, capacity, bandwidth, and fan-out and integration degree. Actually, the recent wide-scale deployment of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) systems is already a clear demonstration of the advantages of optical systems and rapid progress of device technologies. However, in order to be able to fulfill the bandwidth requirements, new mass producible and heavily integrated photonic components and modules (passive and active) have to be developed.

The communication market is really strong in Europe, and expert research teams exist for developing novel devices in close collaboration with global contributors. The high population density, for example in Asia, potentially represents a really wide economical open space for these new communication products. This integrated project completely fulfils the priorities of the European Commission, particularly the priority 1.1.2.iii, IST / components and microsystems.

The aim is to associate advanced materials technologies (sol-gel and polymers), processing technologies (laser writing, electron beam lithography, ion implantation, silicon on insulator, pulsed laser deposition and microelectronic technologies) and modern integration and packaging technologies (silicon on insulator, micro-electromechanical systems and low temperature co-fired ceramics) to fabricate passive and active hybrid integrated modules and systems for optical communication applications. Full exploitation of these technologies requires deep theoretical understanding of the physical phenomena as well as strong modeling and simulation capabilities of processes and modules. In the short term, this hybrid integration approach is the aim; however, in the future, we will also concentrate on full photonic integration allowing for the full integration of active and passive structures and devices into single substrates. The thermal stability, sensitivity to ageing and reliability of components are relevant evaluation criteria. In particular, main effort is focused on passive and active amplitude and phase filtering of guided waves as well as processing signals in the wavelength domain. These systems are required to fully exploit 40-Gbit/s and 100 G-bit/s networks in the future. The final goal to fabricate new mass-producible, highly integrated components will be reached by technological developments and innovations with new emerging technologies and combination of matured technologies.

Obstacles and solutions.

It's easy to see the benefits of employing optical technologies in telecom networks, but right now there are plenty of obstacles in the way of turning dreams into reality.

One of the big obstacles is cost. Carrier budgets are tightening, and a lot of optical gear is still very expensive. Analysts agree that operators cannot continue to absorb reductions in bandwidth prices unless system vendors and components manufacturers reduce costs drastically.

Another is space. The deployment of DWDM in networks has led to a huge increase in the number of boxes in carrier sites


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