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Development of Novel Biological Lasers based on Fluorescent Proteins, Live Cells, and Self-Assembled Resonators (BioLAS)
Start date: Aug 1, 2013, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Biological structures with optical functionality have fascinated mankind for generations. In the future, their application for bioinspired and bioderived optical devices might enable new photonic tools. An example of such a novel biooptical component is the biolaser that was recently pioneered by the Applicant. In this type of laser coherent emission is generated by a single biological cell that is genetically programmed to produce a fluorescent material (the so called green fluorescent protein, GFP). Current biolasers, however, are quite inefficient and require both an artificial resonator and an external pump source. The Applicant’s long-term goal is to establish whether laser light can be generated completely independently within a living organism. During the integration phase, the Applicant will develop a better understanding of lasing and stimulated emission in biological materials and systems and improve the performance of these lasers. The focus will initially be on investigating biologically derived gain media, in particular different fluorescent proteins, and their in vitro characteristics as laser materials. Moreover, in vivo lasing based on cells expressing fluorescent proteins will be studied in detail and self-healing of lasers will be demonstrated. Suitable resonators for completely natural lasers, in particular self-assembled structures, will also be investigated. The Applicant currently has a competitive edge in the field but other groups, especially outside Europe, are expected to become strong competitors over the next years. The integration phase thus constitutes a unique opportunity to establish a strong position in this truly novel field within Europe. Synergies between work on organic lasers, intensively studied at the Researcher’s new host institution, and the recently invented biolasers render integration at the chosen host institution particular attractive.
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