Fostering Collaborative Research in Physics & Engineering

HEPL, founded in 1947 as Stanford's first Independent Laboratory, provides facilities and administrative structure enabling faculty to do research that spans across the boundaries of a single department or school—for example: physics & engineering or physics & biology/medicine. The Independent Laboratory concept, in many ways unique to Stanford, facilitates world-class research and teaching.
For more information about HEPL research, see the Research page.

News in Brief

New HEPL Director Sarah Church

The wireless retinal implants convert
light transmitted from special glasses
into electrical current, stimulating
the retina's bipolar cells.
—Images courtesy of the Palanker lab

April 27, 2015

Photovoltaic retinal implant developed by HEPL's Palanker Group, could restore functional sight

A multidisciplinary Stanford/HEPL research team, led by Professor Daniel Palanker, has developed a wireless retinal implant that they say could restore vision five times better than existing devices.

Results in rat studies suggest it could provide functional vision to patients with retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.

A paper describing the implant was published online April 27 in Nature Medicine.

“The performance we’re observing at the moment is very encouraging,” said Georges Goetz, a lead author of the paper and graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford. “Based on our current results, we hope that human recipients of this implant will be able to recognize objects and move about.”

Read Full Story by Becky Bach, Stanford Medical School Office of Communications & Public Affairs...

New HEPL Director Sarah Church

NASA Illustration: Searching for life
beyond our solar system

April 27, 2015

Stanford and UC Berkeley partner on NASA's new effort to detect life on other planets

The study of exoplanets – planets around other stars – is a relatively new field, but planet-hunting efforts have been prolific. The discovery of the first exoplanet around a star like our sun was made in 1995, and NASA's Kepler space telescope has detected more than 1,000 exoplanets in the past six years.

Now a new NASA initiative aims to answer the big question: Is there life on these alien worlds? The NExSS (Nexus for Exoplanet System Science) initiative will bring together the "best and brightest," according to a NASA press release. NExSS will marshal the expertise of 10 universities, three NASA centers and two research institutes.

One NExSS project, called "Exoplanets Unveiled," will specifically address this question: What are the properties of exoplanetary systems, particularly as they relate to their formation, evolution and potential to harbor life? The project is led by James Graham, a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and will draw upon the expertise of Bruce Macintosh, a professor of physics at Stanford and the principal investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI).

Read Full Stanford Report Story by Bjorn Carey...