Sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their frickin’ heads. Picture: New Line Cinema
What does green fluorescent protein do to a mouse embryo? Makes it glow. Picture: AP
DR Evil just got inappropriately excited.
Some meddling US boffins have found that it may be possible to implant frickin’ lasers in sharks’ heads.
At the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, professors Seok Hyun Yun and Malthe Gather have coaxed living cells to produce laser light.
The “unspecified” mammal cells produce green fluorescent protein (GFP) such as that which makes some jellyfish emit light.
The couple then placed the cell inside a tiny tube with mirrors at both ends.
“Not only did the cell-based device produce pulses of laser light (but) the researchers also found that the spherical shape of the cell itself acted as a lens, refocusing the light and inducing emission of laser light at lower energy levels.”
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While lasers have been around for 50 or so years, until now, they have relied on artificial or engineered materials such as doped crystals, synthetic dyes and purified gases to control their properties.
Prof Yun and Prof Gather’s research shows for the first time that living cells are viable vessels for optical amplification.
Not only do they produce “bright, directional and narrowband laser emission” (read “laser beam”), they also survive the process.
“The cells… were able to continue producing hundreds of pulses of laser light,” they said.
Whether the next step is to start breeding laser-head sharks is entirely up to assorted scientific and ethics communities and committees, but until then, Prof Gather at least has some other notable ideas.
Namely, optical fibres straight to the brain, UK tech website The Register reports.
“One of our long-term goals will be finding ways to bring optical communications and computing, currently done with inanimate electronic devices, into the realm of biotechnology,” Prof Gather said