Evil geniuses may no longer have to take sharks and attach laser beams onto their heads; they might be built right in. Thanks to a breakthrough in biology and physics, scientists have created the world’s first living laser. Malte Gather and Seok-Hyun Yun from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have managed to insert a green glowing protein (eGFP) inside a reflective optical cavity of a living cell made from a human embryonic kidney cell line, reports Scientific American. By hitting it with pulses of low energy, the researchers are able to make it glow normally, but when enough energy is applied, the light it emits straightens up, gets brighter, and becomes uniformly green.
But is there really a use for a laser this incredibly small? Well, not yet. “I think that’s the difficult question to answer for this,” said Steve Meech, a chemist from teh University of East Anglia. “Of course, the old scientist’s defense is, ‘What use is a baby?’ Which is an old quote from [Michael] Faraday. Having said that, I have spent some time trying to come up with applications for this and haven’t.”
For now, the scientists are happy just knowing its possible to create a green laser this small. It actually came from pure intellectual curiosity,” said Yun. “From the very beginning we had a vision to make it work inside a cell.”
After the discovery high wears off, we’re confident that some real laser shark progress will begin. For much more detailed information about the discovery, check out the full study at Nature Photonics.