ULTRAFAST LIGHT/SPECTROSCOPY: 30th anniversary celebration highlights IUSL's contributions

The Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) at The City College of New York celebrated its 30th anniversary with a full-day conference on October 9, 2012.

The first research institute dedicated to applications for ultrafast light, the IUSL has been a pioneering force in optics, and a major academic center for biomedical optics research. Institute founder and director and Distinguished Professor of Physics, Dr. Robert Alfano, had already discovered the supercontinuum by that time; the "ultimate white light source" has enabled many applications in life sciences and beyond, including spectroscopy, multiphoton imaging, and optical coherence tomography.

The logo of the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) depicts supercontinuum white light
The logo of the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) depicts supercontinuum white light.

That is why so many biophotonics luminaries turned up to celebrate the institute's anniversary. Among the presenters were academicians responsible for advancing many aspects of the field: James Fujimoto (MIT), Steven Jacques (Oregon Health & Science University), Bruce Tromberg (University of California Irvine), Joseph Izatt (Duke University), Lihong Wang (Washington University in St. Louis), and Brian Pogue (Dartmouth College). The keynote was delivered by scientist, entrepreneur, and citizen space traveler Gregory H. Olsen, co-founder of Sensors Unlimited Inc.

In his presentation, Alfano recognized IUSL engineer Yury Budansky as a key to the institute's success, since he built many of the optical devices that IUSL physicists envisioned.

IUSL researchers were the first to detect cancer using fluorescence in 1984, and shortly afterward by using Raman scattering of light. Their innovations in multiphotons in 1996 formed the basis for multiphoton microscopy, and their research of optical imaging through scattering media led to the development of optical mammography, ballistic light, and snake light. IUSL also helped propel the evolution of optical spectroscopy.

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