See you at the Biophysical Society conference in San Diego

The reasons we spotlight biophysical applications so often are straightforward: These applications are challenging and beautiful; they have resulted in many innovative approaches of possible utility to other fields, and their teachings are crucial for the advancement of science and the improvement of human life.  
Fascinating depiction of DNA translocating
through a solid-state nanopore.
Courtesy Biophysics Group at the Kavli Institute
of NanoScience, Delft University of Technology.

Applications demanding resolutions at the nanoscale are becoming commonplace across many industries, ranging from semiconductor manufacturing to materials science to photonics, but biophysical applications often also require positional stabilities spanning unusually long periods of time.  Sophisticated lasers, cameras, modulators or steering mirrors, position-sensitive detectors, a high-end microscope, coarse and fine stages and a host of ancillary instruments--plus a powerful computer--complete the typical setup, and everything must be meshed and coordinated, and it all must perform with superb resolution and nanoscale stability over the long duration of experiments.

This has posed significant challenges in motion technology, driving innovation on our side.  One challenge has been that observation of long-term nanoscale stabilities was beyond the capabilities of classical position-metrology instrumentation.  Measuring nanoscale positions dependably over many minutes remained an elusive goal until some clever work, in a biophysics laboratory, enabled its direct observation.

Ingeniousness characterizes this field.  By definition interdisciplinary, it has served to vividly demonstrate the process of recombinant innovation, in which tricks and technologies from different arenas get mashed together to propel advancement.  Out of the biophysical field have come significant breakthroughs in optical trapping, super-resolution imaging, and atomic force microscopy, leading to revelations about cellular structure and biological molecular machines and the uncloaking of cell-membrane pores-- the mysterious gateways targeted by half of all drugs.  The bustle of individual transport molecules has been directly observed as they ferry their cargoes from place to place along gossamer fibrils, their gaits and forces characterized, their startling talent for editing their own work revealed.  The stuff of miracles.

A beautiful, mysterious and consequential field, full of innovation.  We hope you can join us at the Biophysical Society annual meeting, 25-29 February, to see what's new.

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