"Combing" Gases Optically

JILA physicists have designed and demonstrated an "optical comb" capable of performing real-time analysis of the quantity, structure, and dynamics of a variety of atoms and molecules simultaneously, even in minuscule gas samples. The technology has potential applications in chemistry labs, environmental monitoring stations, security sites where screening takes place for explosives or biochemical weapons, and in medical facilities in which diseases are diagnosed by monitoring the patients' respiratory gases. (http:// tinyurl.com/z5flv)