Biophysics breakthrough: A microscope image of a single biological cell engineered to produce green laser light.
The living laser device developed by MGH researchers Malte Gather, PhD, and Seok-Hyun Yun, PhD – both of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine – has been selected as one of the top 10 breakthroughs in 2011 by Physics World. Gather and Yun were the first to create a laser from a single, living cell as reported in the July issue of the journal Nature Photonics.
By genetically engineering cells to express green fluorescent protein (GFP) – normally found in jellyfish – and then shining an intense blue light on the GFP molecules, Gather and Yun were able to amplify the light into nanosecond-long pulses of laser light.
Says Yun, “The ability to generate laser light from a biocompatible source placed inside a patient could be useful for photodynamic therapies, in which drugs are activated by the application of light, or for novel forms of imaging.”
Read more articles from the 01/13/11 Hotline issue.