Blue light gives night diving a bright makeover

Seeking to get a more vibrant, varied fluorescence experience when viewing marine life during nighttime diving, Charles Mazel, Ph.D., principal research scientist at Physical Sciences Inc. (Andover, MA) and a scuba enthusiast, discovered that blue light delivered.

In the mid-1980s, Mazel experimented with ultraviolet (UV) light, which, while invisible to the human eye, can make marine life fluoresce. He later gained access to a spectrofluorometer, which enabled him to monitor the emission spectra of coral samples, and found that fluorescence was stronger in the blue wavelength region (450–495 nm) than in the UV. Discovering too that blue light caused back reflection that overpowers the beauty of the fluorescence, he remedied that with a yellow filter visor.

In preparation for a diving trip in the Bahamas, he built a blue light prototype using a low-powered filament bulb flashlight. There, he compared his prototype (while wearing his yellow filter visor) with the UV light that he had been using, and found that the blue light/yellow filter combo enabled him to view weak red fluorescence in chlorophyll that cannot be seen using UV light.1

NIGHTSEA founder Charles Mazel photographed a Phymanthus crucifer, known as a beaded anemone, in Pedro Bank in Jamaica. While most of these fluoresce a single color, this one exhibited intense oranges and yellows with subtle patches of green, he says. (Image courtesy of NIGHTSEA)

While on another diving trip in Bonaire, Dutch Antilles, Mazel viewed nudibranchs (known as sea slugs), a type of mollusk that sheds its shell after the larval stage and measures around three-quarters of an inch. Nudibranchs may have several utilities in medicine, as scientists have studied their simple nervous systems for clues on learning and memory, and used their defensive toxins in search of pharmaceuticals.2 Mazel was able to view a species of nudibranchs that normally looks translucent, but when illuminated with blue light appear in bright-orange fluorescence, he told BioOptics World.

Mazel's discoveries led him to start NIGHTSEA (Bedford, MA), a company that offers blue-light tools at varying price points for sport divers, researchers, and photographers, among others. In a collaboration with underwater lighting maker Light & Motion (Monterey, CA), Mazel developed the Sola NIGHTSEA blue-light underwater device, which delivers 3000 mW of radiant flux for just under two hours when submerged. A custom interference filter pops on over the light head to convert the blue light to white.

In November 2013, the partners launched the GoBe light tool, which weighs 120 g and is compatible with six interchangeable light heads—including a 500-lumen NIGHTSEA light head with a 20° beam angle and submergibility to 120 m. For more information, please visit http://www.lightandmotion.com/gobe.

1. See http://www.nightsea.com/articles/blue-light-for-underwater-fluorescence/.

2. See http://www.calacademy.org/newsroom/releases/2010/johnson_award.php.

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

DISEASE DETECTION/ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING: Novel design makes mid-IR fiber laser super-sensitive for breath analysis

A fiber laser able to produce 25 times more light than other lasers operating at a similar wavelength has proven able to detect very low concentrations of gases.

Michelson Diagnostics places volume purchase order for Axsun Technologies' swept-laser engines

Michelson Diagnostics has placed a volume purchase order for swept-laser optical coherence tomography (OCT) engines from Axsun Technologies a subsidiary of Volcano Corporation.

What’s new at SPIE BiOS 2014?

Today begins what is probably the most stimulating week of the year for those involved in biophotonics: The 2014 SPIE Biomedical Optics Symposium (SPIE BiOS) at SPIE Photonics West 2014.

BIOPHOTONICS RESEARCH/FUNDING: Biophotonics research attracts big investments

Recent announcements of biophotonics research investments in both of Earth's hemispheres bode well for life sciences.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World