Plenary Event
Sunday Evening Plenary
21 August 2022 • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM PDT | Conv. Ctr. Room 6A 
6:05 PM - 6:35 PM: Photon scissors and tweezers: a cell surgeon’s story

2022 SPIE Gold Medal Winner: Michael W. Berns, Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (United States)

It was 1966 and all I knew about lasers was that Goldfinger was going to slice James Bond in half. Then one of my professors at Cornell told me that the department had purchased a small ruby laser but did not know what to do with it, and he felt it might be useful for very fine tissue ablation if coupled to a microscope. But the operating parameters of the red ruby laser made it difficult to control when focused to a small spot, plus the absorption characteristics of most of the cell structures did not match the 694.3 nm wavelength of the laser. However, when the blue green argon ion laser was available, the ability to focus the pulsed beam to its diffraction limit plus the absorption properties of some cell structures (and the addition of light-absorbing dyes to these structures) allowed for precise ablation in spots less than 0.5 micrometer diameter, especially the chromosomes in live cells. When the nanosecond and picosecond 532 nm and 355 nm harmonics of the Nd:YAG lasers became available, even greater precision of nanoablation was possible due to natural absorption by the target structure and/or non-linear multiphoton ablation that occurred regardless of absorption characteristics of the target. These optical systems were used (and still are) to perform subcellular surgery on any cell organelle visible with the light microscope. With Arthur Ashkin’s invention of optical traps (laser tweezers), cell biologists now had a complementary optical tool to the laser scissors and so began a renaissance in the use of light to finely alter and manipulate cells.

Michael Berns is the Distinguished Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor at the University of California, Irvine. He is co-founder of the non-profit (501c-3) Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (with Arnold O. Beckman), a premier center for biophotonics where basic research and patient treatment occur under the same roof. Berns has published 500 articles in leading journals, six books, and holds sixteen patents. His books and publications have been published in 13 different languages and he has been featured in National Geographic and Scientific American magazines five times. He received the UCI Medal, the highest honor of the University. He is foreign member of the Royal Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and Fellow of the British Royal Society of Biology. and Royal Society of Medicine. In 2021, he published a full length historical fiction novel, The Tinderbox Plot, which accurately predicted the events of January 6, 2021.

6:35 PM - 6:45 PM: Q&A

6:45 PM - 7:15 PM: Quantum science and metrology

Jun Ye, JILA, Univ. of Colorado (United States)

Precise engineering of quantum states of matter and innovative laser technology are revolutionizing the performance of atomic clocks and metrology, providing new opportunities to explore emerging phenomena, test fundamental symmetry, and search for new physics. The recent work of measuring gravitational time dilation at the sub-millimeter scale highlights exciting prospects for new scientific discovery and technology development.

Jun Ye is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of NIST, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of APS, and a Fellow of OSA. His research focuses on the frontiers of light-matter interactions that include precision measurement, quantum science, and ultracold matter. He has co-authored 400 scientific papers and delivered 600 invited talks. Honors include Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, Herbert Walther Award, Julius Springer Prize, Micius Quantum Prize, N.F. Ramsey Prize, I.I. Rabi Award, US Presidential Rank Award (Distinguished), and four Gold Medals (U.S. Commerce Department). Group web page:

7:15 PM - 7:25 PM: Q&A