A pair of Harvard researchers have created laser light using a human cell and a protein found in jellyfish.
According to Wired UK, Seok-Hyun Yun and Malte Gather genetically modified human embryonic kidney cells to produce green fluorescent protein (GFP), the substance that makes jellyfish bioluminescent. Then, the team placed one of the newly engineered cells between two mirrors, spaced just 20 micrometres apart.
Pulses of blue light shot at the cell caused it to emit a visible laser beam. Sun told Scientific American that the beam, though faint, was a "nice green" color when viewed with the naked eye.
The experiment lasted on a few nanoseconds, and the cell remained intact after.
"This is the first time that we have used biological materials to build a laser and generate light from something that is living," Yun said, according to Nature News.
Yun and Gather said they hope their laser test will allow them to study the properties of other kinds of cells.
Further into the future, writes Wired, their research may even lead to the use of laser beams within the human body and might allow doctors to subcutaneously zap cancerous cells.
The pair published their results in the Nature Photonics journal.