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SPIE Optics + Photonics event news

25-29 August 2013
San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California (USA)


Jon Jenkins Kepler search
for exoplanets
Federico Capasso SPIE 2013
Gold Medal
Optics Outreach Games winner Optics Outreach
Games winner

Event photo gallery


Thursday 29 August

Wednesday 28 August

Tuesday 27 August

Monday 26 August

Sunday 25 August

Saturday 24 August


Press release: 'Bigger, busier SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013 draws cross-disciplinary crowd to San Diego'

Thursday 29 August

On a growth curve

Robert Edmund at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013
Robert Edmund "loves"
optics, and showed off
stickers to prove it. They
were being handed out
during a busy day at the
Edmund Optics booth.

As the exhibition closed at mid-afternoon on Thursday, total attendance for Optics + Photonics 2013 had topped 4,500, over 200 more than last year.

The exhibition grew over last year as well, with a total of 178 companies compared to last year's 166, and 75 student chapter displays compared to 63 last year.

Not surprisingly, exhibitors reported a good week, with busy booths throughout the week, and reports of more and even stronger leads than in recent years.

As one noted, "We had one lead that was so hot that the customer wanted to know how fast we could deliver the product. If we'd had a credit card swipe in our booth, I think we could have closed the deal on the spot."

The unique multidisciplinary synergy of the event and strong technical program worked for both technical attendees and exhibitors.

Z Microsystems, which also shows its real-time video enhancement technology at the SPIE DSS exhibition, characterized Optics + Photonics visitors as "a good crowd, tech-savvy." The company has been providing military displays and is moving into biomedical applications.

"The near-record number of papers presented here at Optics + Photonics 2013 must be responsible for the significant increase in leads and lead quality in our booth traffic this year," said Brian Lula, president and CEO of PI (Physik Instrumente) LP.

Among the week's many high points were 17 outstanding plenary talks from Federico Capasso of Harvard, Jon Jenkins of SETI/NASA and others, a well-received talk by Harry Atwater of Caltech on the bright future for solar energy generation and more than 3,300 other technical presentations spanning a wide swath of the photonics sector. (Read below to follow activities day by day.)


What's next?

The announcement at Thursday morning's exhibitor breakfast that next year's exhibition will move to the bright and airy Sails Pavilion adjacent to the convention center's upstairs conference rooms met with applause.

Conference planning meetings yielded some important ideas for new technical content -- watch for the calls for papers to find the ideal conference and submit an abstract. Dates are 17-21 August 2014.


Exhibitor breakfast at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013 

How big IS the photonics industry?

Ever wonder just how much revenue photonics creates in the marketplace, or how many jobs are in the field? A well-attended breakfast for exhibitors (above) on the final day of SPIE Optics + Photonics featured a talk by SPIE Industry and Market Strategist Steve Anderson about society efforts to collect data on the impact of the photonics industry on the economy.

Anderson pointed out that collecting those numbers to help raise awareness of the impact and importance of the industry is an important step in gaining support for policy directions and funding.

Anderson also recalled the announcement at Optics + Photonics last year of the release of the National Academies report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation," and provided an update on the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) launched as a direct result of the report's recommendations.

Goals of the NPI, sponsored by SPIE and several other societies, are to raise awareness about photonics among policy makers, the media and the public; increase collaboration among the community; and drive U.S. funding and investment in photonics.

"The NPI has legs, and it is moving forward -- it's an exciting time" Anderson said.

He urged individuals and companies to "join the movement." Find out how and access a rich store of resources at www.lightourfuture.org.


Anticipating a 'year of light'

International Year of Light poster International Year of Light poster International Year of Light poster

The 3 stunning posters above anticipating an International Year of Light (IYL) celebration in 2015 above were among more than 30 on display in the Photonics for a Better World pavilion during the exhibition. The posters were created by supporters of a proposal before the United Nations to establish the IYL to raise awareness about the initiative.

Optics leaders from around the world, including SPIE President-Elect Philip Stahl and SPIE members John Dudley (President of the European Physical Society and coordinator of the initiative) and Anthony Johnson (OSA Past President), were part of a delegation who presented the goals and activities of IYL to representatives of the United Nations and UNESCO in May.

A declaration by the U.N. to celebrate an International Year of Light would highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives and futures.

Groups supporting the IYL, including SPIE, are optimistic that the proposal will be put before the full U.N. General Assembly by the end of the year. A final proclamation isn't expected before January 2014.

Although the posters anticipate that a Year of Light would be celebrated in 2015, the U.N. has not decided on a specific year.

Learn more about the posters and the book in which they're featured at www.magic-of-light.org/iyl2015/index.htm. See more photos in the photo gallery


Wednesday 28 August

Recognizing excellence and leadership

SPIE Awards Banquet

Nearly 300 people were on hand for the 58th annual SPIE Awards and Recognition Banquet, with SPIE President William Arnold presiding over the festivities.

The Gold Medal of the Society, its highest honor, was presented to Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Awards announced at the banquet included the Directors' Award and the President's Award.

Bjorn Andresen

The SPIE Directors' Award was presented in recognition of significant services of outstanding benefit to the society to Bjørn Andresen (left), Acktar Ltd., in appreciation of his decades of sustained and outstanding service to SPIE, particularly in organizing and developing SPIE's Infrared Technology and Applications Conference. His extraordinary level of dedication and commitment for over 39 years has brought great credit upon himself, his colleagues, and the mission of SPIE.

SPIE President's Award

The SPIE President's Award recognizes unique and meritorious service of outstanding benefit to the Society and to the optics community. The 2013 award was presented jointly to Paul McManamon (center), Exciting Technology, LLC, and Alan Willner (left), University of Southern California, in recognition of their significant service to SPIE and the greater optics and photonics community, by co-chairing the National Research Council's report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation."

See all of the SPIE award winners here


Working together

Ben Eggleton and William Arnold

Ben Eggleton, University of Sydney, and SPIE President William Arnold (seated) take a moment during the awards banquet rehearsal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Optical Society and SPIE.


A tribute to a true leader

John Caulfield tribute

Colleagues and family both recalled that John Caulfield, long-time SPIE Fellow, society officer, conference chair and editor of the journal Optical Engineering, believed that people were the most important part of science.

Caulfield, who died in early 2012, was honored Wednesday with a day-long tribute conference (above) and a luncheon at which SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs was among those sharing impressions and memories.

"He always had an observation, a recommendation or a criticism," Arthurs said. "Whatever it might be, it was presented in his inimitable style with disarming charm and a compelling smile. The motive was always clear: it was to help someone else, to help the society."

Arthurs characterized Caulfield's influence as most important to the "soul of the society, helping shape the core sense of values. He was a moral anchor; he changed us for the better, and I hope that we will always be shaped by the standards he set."

John Caulfield familyOn hand at the luncheon to receive a commemorative plaque from SPIE President-Elect Philip Stahl were (at right, from left) Caulfield's daughters Kim Caulfield and Cynthia Caulfield Osborne and wife, Jane Caulfield.

Chairs for the Tribute to H. John Caulfield conference were SPIE Past President María Yzuel, Univ. Autònoma de Barcelona, and SPIE Fellows Jorge Ojeda-Castaneda, Univ. de Guanajuato, and Barry Johnson, Alabama A&M University. Proceedings will be published in the SPIE Digital Library.


Severe storms, carbon gases

Remote Sensing plenary

Plenary talks continued on Wednesday, with four speakers in the Organic Photonics and Electronics session, and two in Remote Sensing; above, Mark Schoeberl, Science and Technology Corp., describes the Geostationary Remote Infrared Pollution Sounder (GRIPS), an instrument for measuring carbon gases from space.

Earlier in the session, Gail Bingham, chief scientist at Utah State University's Space Dynamics Lab, outlined a long-term plan for forecasting extreme weather using six geostationary satellites utilizing a new hyperspectral imaging sounder in a project known as STORM, for Sounding and Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology. Read more about the project in the optics.org article.


Spintronics, OLEDs, solar: toward great efficiency

Omrane Fadhel Tobin Marks Valy Vardeny Martin Pfeiffer
Omrane Fadhel Tobin Marks Valy Vardeny Martin Pfeiffer

Speakers in the Organic track (pictured above) included:

  • Omrane Fadhel (Novaled AG), on recent results in organic electronics using doping technologies: Novaled has established the intentional doping approach as a primary method to lower operating voltage and increase power efficiency in OLEDs.
  • Tobin Marks (Northwestern University), on new materials strategies for creating hybrid electronic circuitry, touching on topics such as transparent and mechanically flexible electronics, self-assembled and printable high-k nanodielectrics enabling ultralarge capacitance and low leakage, and combining materials for high performance.
  • Valy Vardeny (University of Utah), on spin effects in organic optoelectronic devices, including spintronics work that has opened up new research directions toward improving power conversion efficiency of solar cells.
  • Martin Pfeiffer (Heliatek GmbH) on vacuum-deposited organic tandem solar cells "on their way from lab to fab," characterized by superior performance at high temperature and low light, and the option for semitransparent modules in attractive colors.

During the plenary session, Symposium Chair Zakya Kafafi (National Science Foundation) presented the Organic Photonics + Electronics Best Student Paper Award certificate to Tobias Schwab, for his paper "Improved light outcoupling and mode analysis of top-emitting OLEDs on periodically corrugated substrates," and the runner-up certificate to Jungbum Kim, for his paper "Enhanced light out-coupling from surface plasmonic loss minimized transparent organic light-emitting diodes."See photos in the photo gallery.


Photonics for vision

poster session

Wednesday evening's poster session -- the second of the busy week -- included papers from conferences on Nanotechnology, Organic Photonics and Electronics, Signal and Image Processing, and X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Particle Technologies. Above, a paper from Venkataramana Kalikivayi (at left), Sudip Pal and Angarai Ganesan of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras presents a new technique for retinal imaging to study vision loss and color perception. See more photos in the photo gallery.


Many thanks!

Chuck DeMund and John Kiel

SPIE Secretary/Treasurer Brian Lula surprised Financial Advisory Committee members Chuck DeMund, left, and John Kiel with gifts recognizing their long and valuable service to the society. Both have been Fellows of the Society since 1977, and each has served the society in numerous roles including as Treasurer. DeMund was President of SPIE from 1972 through 1974.

Lula, an accomplished astronomer by avocation, presented each with a large framed print of nebula images, and SPIE-designed neckties featuring his astronomical images.


Ranks of Senior Members grow

Senior Members

The number of SPIE Senior Members recognized for their professional experience, active involvement with the optics community and SPIE, and significant performance that sets them apart from their peers continues to grow. With 58 added this year, the total has reached nearly 400. Approximately two dozen Senior Members gathered Wednesday morning for breakfast in their honor.


Tuesday 27 August

SPIE celebrates its Members

SPIE Member Reception

SPIE Members gathered on the Coronado Terrace at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Marina after the Annual General Meeting of the Society to socialize, have a delicious dinner, and relax after a long day attending conferences at the convention center. See more Member Reception photos in the photo gallery.


Members hear report on state of the society, election results

Annual General Meeting

With SPIE President William Arnold presiding over the Annual General Meeting of the SPIE Corporation, Secretary/Treasurer Brian Lula and Executive Director Eugene Arthurs reported on the robust state of the society. (From left above, Arthurs, Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak, President-Elect Philip Stahl, Arnold, Vice President Toyohiko Yatagai, and Lula.)

Robert Lieberman

Arnold announced the election of Robert Lieberman, president and CTO of Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., as 2014 Vice President. With the election, Lieberman joins the SPIE presidential chain and will serve as President-Elect in 2015 and President in 2016.

In 2014, Stahl, Senior Optical Physicist and James Webb Space Telescope Optical Components Lead at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, will serve as President; Arnold, Chief Scientist and Vice President of Technology Development Center at ASML USA, Inc., will serve as Immediate Past President of the Society; Yatagai, Director of the Center for Optical Research and Education and Distinguished Professor at Utsunomiya University, will serve as President-Elect; and Lula, president and CEO of PI (Physik Instrumente) LP, will serve as Secretary/Treasurer.

Newly elected Society Directors, who will serve three-year terms for 2014-2016, are:

  • Michael Eismann, Air Force Research Lab.
  • James Grote, Air Force Research Lab.
  • Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Vanderbilt University
  • Demetri Psaltis, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Read more about the elections in the SPIE press release.


Exhibition opens: suppliers, jobs -- and voting for a better world

Optics + Photonics exhibition

Top industry suppliers were open for business in the exhibition hall starting this morning, bringing their latest devices and applications -- and their expertise. Nearly 180 companies are participating this week, and business was brisk in the hall as the three-day show opened. See more in the photo gallery.

OP13 Job Fair

More than a dozen companies with positions to fill were on hand in the SPIE Job Fair (above). The fair is on Tuesday and Wednesday during exhibition hours.

SPIE outreach project funding vote

A voting station is open at the Photonics for a Better World booth (#1323) in the exhibition hall, giving Optics + Photonics attendees a chance to help direct funding for the society's outreach activities. (SPIE provided more than $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.)

Projects open for voting include:

  • ALOP: Active Learning in Optics and Photonics, an international teacher training program
  • Child ViSion, providing self-adjustable glasses through school-based programs in Africa
  • Laser Roadshow, engaging elementary and middle-school children in science through a laser show.

Stop by to cast your vote, and check out information on the proposed International Year of Light and other important projects using light to help make ours a better world.


Growth trends in open source

Stephen AylwardStephen Aylward (at right) of Kitware gave an engaging talk on the growth and use of open source software in medical and other applications on Tuesday afternoon in the Signal, Image, and Data Processing plenary session.

A former professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Aylward spoke about his personal experience in leaving academia for industry, as well as his reasons for choosing Kitware, a company that was struggling at the time.

He showed predictions for open software's growth from one million open source projects in 2012 to double that in 2014, and he discussed successful medical applications of open source software, such as the Image-Guided Surgery Toolkit (IGSTK) developed at Georgetown by Kevin Cleary. Among its successes, the IGSTK has been deployed in robot-guided neurosurgery by a team in Italy and in a commercial neurosurgical system in Argentina.

Other open source successes Aylward discussed included VistA, a health record database developed by US Veterans' Affairs, and 3D Slicer, which represents the state-of-the-art in reviewing of medical images.

"But I'm not an open source zealot," he insisted. Although having dedicated his presentation to detailing numerous examples of successful open source applications, he explained why he felt that open and closed source software each have their place, using an Oreo cookie as an analogy.

"Open source," he said, "is the double stuff." The cookies surrounding open source in his analogy are the proprietary or closed source hardware and applications, and he gave BrainLAB as one example of a successful joining of open and closed source.

However, open source does have its issues. There is the possibility of duplicate code that could water down the efficacy of software, as well as the still untested legal issues because open source has yet to truly be challenged in the courts.

Aylward closed by predicting that open source will beat even the prediction of two million open source projects in 2014 as computing becomes pervasive in health monitoring, mobile technology, and medical imaging.


Curiosity on Mars, space-diving to Earth

Roger Wiens

The cameras on Curiosity, the most ambitious Mars mission ever attempted, are yet to find signs of life: no microbes; no precursors. But hold on: "This mission isn't over yet," said Roger Wiens (at right), principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument team on the Curiosity Rover Mission. "Stay tuned over the next couple of years. When we get to Mount Sharp, you'll see what we are going to do there." Wiens gave the first of three Optical Engineering plenary talks on Tuesday afternoon.

Mount Sharp is a critical destination for the rover, currently ambling across the Martian landscape at a tortoise-like tenth of a mile an hour. To huge public interest, it landed on Mars in August 2012. A year later, Wiens said, "we are now a fifth of the way to the gateway to the mountain." So far, the cameras have sent back data on 80,000 laser shots, and a thousand images.

ChemCam employs laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to create a plasma on the surface of target rocks and assess their elemental make-up, in part to evaluate the potential for life on Mars, to study possible carbon compounds as the chemical building blocks of life. That will reveal its past habitability and the possible roles of water.

Read more in the optics.org article.

Joe Houston Dennis Fisher Jay Nemeth
Joe Houston Dennis Fisher Jay Nemeth

The Red Bull Sky Dive project was featured in two plenary talks. The first, by SPIE Past President Joe Houston, introduced the project that enabled Felix Baumgartner to skydive from 127,852 feet, breaking a number of world records, and to become the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall. Dennis Fisher of Genesis Applied Imaging and Jay Nemeth of Flight Line Films described the optical mission behind the project.

Nemeth told about touring the Optics + Photonics exhibition four years ago looking for suppliers and ideas. This year, the completed Flight Line vehicle (below) can be toured in the Photonics for a Better World pavilion in the exhibition hall through the end of the show Thursday afternoon.

photo of SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013 exhibition


In the conference rooms: a zeppelin!

Presentations continued, with conferences rooms buzzing throughout the day.

Among the talks, Anthony Harness gave an account in the conference on Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets of innovative efforts to directly observe exoplanets through the use of starshades on a zeppelin dubbed the New Worlds Airship. The purpose of the work at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is to demonstrate that interesting science can be done suborbitally and relatively inexpensively, he said.

A starshade is typically a daisy-shaped light shield used to block the intense illumination of a star so that the very faint light of an orbiting planet can be imaged. Aside from the airborne experiments, star shades have been used on hilltops in the Colorado desert.

Separated by 3 km from a ground telescope, the starshade flew on three test flights, from which several advances in instrumentation and stability were created.

However, an unexpected non-technical challenge came up when the zeppelin company went out of business. So the next approach for the project is to utilize vertical-takeoff vertical-landing rockets to fly the starshade.

In fact, the researchers envision a tandem flight of both the telescope and the starshade in the stratosphere, which would enable a possible separation of up to 300 km. They are optimistic that their system will be able to image outer planetary systems within a year.


Future of solar energy? It's bright!

Harry Atwater, Eugene Arthurs, Ifor Samuel

Speaker Harry Atwater (at left above, with SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs [holding two samples of Atwater's flexible solar modules] and new Fellow Ifor Samuel, University of St. Andrews) told a room full of SPIE Fellows that solar energy technology is well on the way to meeting objectives for achieving grid-parity -- ahead of schedule.

Pointing out that in Japan, Australia and some other regions, solar energy is already at parity, Atwater predicted that the United States would reach parity goals set by the Department of Energy's Sun Shot program "about five years early."

To do so, "future photovoltaics will require new physics, new photonics and new engineering," he said.

For high efficiency, requirements are

  • light trapping and local density of states
  • high internal quantum efficiency
  • radiative emission control
  • efficient full-spectrum conversion.

For low-cost, requirements are

  • large-scale nanostructure fabrication
  • electricity at grid parity with unsubsidized cost
  • true energy supply significance.


Joseph Goodman

Who's that behind that Google Glass? SPIE Fellow Joseph Goodman (Stanford University) attended the lunch sporting one of the newest and most intriguing devices featuring multiple applications of photonics.

See more photos, including new Fellows, in the photo gallery.


Going deep, technically and philosophically

Carver Mead

Evening technical events drew audiences for discussions on life in the cosmos, lens design and the nature of light. Above, semiconductor inventor, physicists, entrepreneur and Stanford University professor Carver Mead discusses the need for a conceptual visualization of the micro universe and how his views on the nature of light can be extended seamlessly to a unified view of the observable universe.


Student Chapter Exhibitor Mixer

SPIE Student Services

SPIE Student Coordinator Tasha Chicovsky (left) answers questions about SPIE Student Services.


Ah, yes: books!

SPIE Marketplace

More than 175 titles from SPIE Press and other SPIE publications are available for perusal and purchase at the SPIE Marketplace in the conference registration hall. Games, gifts, ties and t-shirts are in stock as well -- remember to stop by and take a look.


Monday 26 August

Another day, another beautiful sunset in San Diego

OP13 Welcome Reception

Hundreds of people enjoyed the beautiful San Diego weather and delicious food at the All-Conference Welcome Reception and Star Party. Volunteers from the San Diego Astronomy Club set up a variety of telescopes to enable attendees to see the magic of the San Diego sky. See photos of the reception in the photo gallery.


Creating an effective learning environment

Women in Optics

SPIE President William Arnold (left) welcomed Kathy Perkins (right), Director, PhET Interactive Simulations, University of Colorado Boulder, to the podium as the invited speaker for the SPIE Women in Optics presentation and reception.

Perkins' talk, "Finding the Right Fit: From Atmospheric Scientist to Educating the Next Generation of Scientists Worldwide," outlined the award-winning PhET Interactive Simulations Project at University of Colorado Boulder, a collection of over 100 interactive simulations for teaching and learning science that are used over 40 million times per year.http://phet.colorado.edu.


The future of optics and photonics

Student Lunch with the Experts and Newport Research Excellence Travel Awards

Students gathered for the SPIE Lunch with the Experts and Newport Research Excellence Travel Awards. The event featured experts willing to share their experience and wisdom on career paths in optics and photonics. SPIE Scholarship recipients were acknowledged, including the winners of the John Kiel Scholarship, and the Price Scholarship. The Newport Research Excellence Travel Awards Program provides financial support for university students to attend the two largest SPIE meetings in order to present their research.

For application information for this and other SPIE travel grants visit Scholarships and Grants online at spie.org/scholarships. Learn more about Newport at www.Newport.com. See more photos in the photo gallery.


Celebrating the past, looking toward the future

SPIE Past Presidents

The SPIE Past Presidents luncheon provides the Society the opportunity to gain from their unique perspective. Pictured are 15 SPIE Past Presidents.


Nano is bigger than ever

Manizeh Razeghi, Federico Capasso

Manijeh Razeghi (Northwestern University) introduced Federico Capasso (Harvard University), one of three speakers in the well-attended NanoScience and Engineering plenary session. The symposium is bigger than ever this year, with nearly 1,000 papers, and has become the largest technical meeting on the topic.

Capasso, inventor of the quantum cascade laser, gave a plenary talk about "flat optics," or what he calls metasurfaces.

"For these optical materials to have a big impact in technology they have to become flat," he said in an interview afterward. "So one of the most exciting things we have demonstrated, where now there is a huge interest, is a so-called flat lens."

A lens traditionally has to be curved, he explained. But he and his research group have found a way to remake a flat surface and put "optical antennas," or nanometer-scale structures, onto the surface to achieve local control of the phase amplitude and polarization.

"The beauty of this lens is that it has no spherical aberration, unlike a conventional lens," he said. He also noted that there's still a lot of work to be done to further develop this idea. "It can have large numerical aperture, so I think the sky is the limit," he said.

Capasso is the winner of the 2013 Gold Medal of SPIE for his work on quantum cascade lasers and band gap engineering.

"The prestige of the prize is based a lot on the prior winners. And as I look at the list of prior winners, it's like a who's who of basic optics and photonics," he said.

His work at Bell Labs on creating tunable electronic and optical materials eventually led to the quantum cascade laser, which he said "has now sort of taken off like a rocket, well beyond my expectations."

Nicolay Zheludev Susumu Noda
Nicolay Zheludev, University of Southampton and Nanyang Technological University, covered work on changing balance of forces, structural transformation, light confinement and quantum effects at the nanoscale to create meta- devices. The research is shifting to achieving tunable, switchable, nonlinear and sensing functionalities using metamaterials, Zheludev said. Susumu Noda of Kyoto University described work with 2D photonic crystals focusing on thermal emission control important for energy harvesting, and 3D photonic crystals, including on-demand 3D guiding of photons in 3D photonic crystals. He also described work in ultrahigh-Q nanocavities, stopping light, ultra-small Si Raman lasers, SiC photonics and unique 2D lasers.

See more photos in the photo gallery.


Meeting the challenges of solar

Andrew Ferguson Thomas Bialek Scott Burroughs

On Monday afternoon, Andrew Ferguson (above, left) of the National Renewable Energy Lab gave a plenary presentation discussing the use of molecular photon up-conversion to enhance the performance of wide-bandgap, single-junction photovoltaics. He showed that by using the sensitized triplet-triplet annihilation mechanism in molecular chromophores, for every two low-energy photons, a single high-energy photon could be generated to offset significant transmission losses. This, he said, had been demonstrated experimentally by Tim Schmidt's research group at the University of Sydney.

Ferguson's own group has been investigating the possibility of using dyes in rubbery polymer hosts as well as commercial polyurethanes. However, there are problems involving oxygen, as oxygen can quench up-conversion, and some dyes like rubrene are prone to photooxidation, so they are investigating better host materials such as ClearFlex 50, which inhibits photooxidation of rubrene.


As solar and wind generation give utilities fits, "Smart Grids" and new inverters are increasingly vital in smoothing out scrambled patterns. In a Smart Grid home, explained Thomas Bialek, chief engineer at San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the consumer can select preferences for electrical service. If the electric bill, for example, is forecast early in the month at $200 for the month, the owner will be able to set the software to bring it to $150. The smart system, using low-power ZigBee or other communication network protocols, will monitor use of energy and adjust loads and levels in the home.

"The Smart Grid is a machine-controlled grid with a communication backbone for the whole system," Bialek said. "Once you have a device that that can communicate, the utility can better manage the grid. The energy storage devices and reactive power devices that are needed to mitigate the impacts need inverters with advanced functionality that allows them to dynamically respond to grid conditions in all real and reactive power operation quadrants."

The U.S. Department of Energy, the State of California and local utilities such as SDG&E are pushing hard to expand use of these components.

Across the United States, Bialek said, such systems are being deployed by various utilities, in the U.S. particularly in California, the Northwest and the East Coast, and in most European countries.

Read more in the optics.org article.


Scott Burroughs (right) of Semprius described their approach to meeting the challenges of improving high-concentration PV reliability and performance while decreasing cost.

Their answer to this challenge is to use their massively parallel microtransfer printing technology to create very small cells that have a short optical path, distributed heat dissipation, and low series resistance that lead to a highly efficient, lightweight CPV module with no need for heat sinks.

Their next-generation designs include the use of stacked cells, which have the advantage of a room-temperature printing process that brings minimum thermal stress and high placement accuracy. Looking ahead, Burroughs projected that HCPV multijunction cell efficiency would climb to 50% by 2017.


Networking, networking, networking

coffee break

Coffee breaks are among many opportunities to connect with peers at technical conferences. See the photo gallery for more.


Sunday 25 August

Dodging asteroids, identifying planets

Plenary audience

An audience of several hundred was treated to plenary talks by Philip Lubin (above) of University of California, Santa Barbara, and Jon Jenkins, SETI Institute/NASA Ames Research Center.

Lubin discussed options and capabilities for protecting Earth from the inevitability of a bombardment by large asteroids such as the one that landed in Russia earlier this year -- or larger. Read more on the talk in the optics.org article.

Jenkins gave an overview of findings from the Kepler exoplanet search to date, noting that much of the four years of rich data collected by the instrument is yet to be analyzed.

Read more on Jenkins' talk in coverage by optics.org.

SPIE Vice President Philip Stahl announced that SPIE will launch the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems (JATIS) in 2014. "This new journal responds to the need expressed by the astronomical instrumentation community for a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the technologies covered in the astronomy program here in San Diego as well as in the biennial SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation meeting," Stahl said, adding that more details will be announced in a few weeks. Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014 will be held 22-27 June in Montreal.

Below: upper; from left, Stahl with Lubin, Jenkins, and SPIE President William Arnold; below, an audience member poses a question. See more photos in the photo gallery.

Philip Stahl, Philip Lubin, Jon Jenkins, William Arnold

Symposium plenary Q-and-A


Optics Outreach Games

2013 Optics Outreach Games

Students and Early Career Professionals gathered for the popular Optics Outreach Games on Sunday night. Seventeen student groups showcased the best optics and photonics demonstrations from student chapters worldwide. Four established judges had a difficult challenge choosing the winner. The 2013 winner of the games, including being chosen the People's Choice Award, was "Waves, Waves Everywhere," Univ. Autónoma de Nuevo León (pictured). See more pictures in the photo gallery and see a brief video (5:39) of the winning entry.


Manipulating light: tractor beams and screwdrivers

Pawel Zemanek, Miles Padgett

Gabe Spalding

A week of more than 3,200 technical presentations started first thing Sunday morning.

Among talks in the conference on Optical Trapping and Optical Manipulation were Pawel Zemánek of the Institute of Scientific Instruments of the ASCR (above with session chair Miles Padgett) and Gabe Spalding, Illinois Wesleyan University (at left).

Zemánek reported on an experimental demonstration of optical transport, sorting and self-arrangement using a "tractor beam."

Spalding, in a talk titled "(Not) just torquing around," started by evoking the sonic screwdriver of Dr. Who, and described work in using light to trap and manipulate matter.


New capabilities: graphene plasmonics

Plasmonic interaction with light provides enhanced capabilities that would otherwise not exist, noted Javier García de Abajo (ICFO -- Institut de Ciències Fotòniques) in an keynote talk in the conference on Plasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and Their Optical Properties.

Plasmonic structures and the associated plasmons can concentrate light. The carbon 60 Buckyball-like structure is less than 1 nm in diameter but the optical wavelengths of the associated plasmons are 200 times larger than the structure itself.

Plasmonic structures can provide large optical (electromagnetic) field enhancements. When two small gold spheres are brought together, the associated plasmons interact at the gap between the spheres to enhance the field strength by several orders of magnitude. The associated surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can be used to identify very weak signals from molecular entities due to this enhanced field.

To date, one desired capability -- that of fast tunability of the plasmon resonance -- has eluded researchers. However, now the unique properties of graphene are making that tunability possible.

Graphene is a planar structure made entirely of carbon atoms. It can be doped to provide electrical contacts and a capacitor can be built from the material. This structure allows for charge injection into the graphene which shifts the plasmon resonance and the associated optical field thus providing the desired tuning.

Graphene’s strong light-to-material interaction can be used to produce hybrid structures. The surface of the capacitor can be patterned with graphene islands that collectively produce new optical effects, such as total absorption in very thin films and quantum effects only associated with much smaller (atomic) structures.


Status of the James Webb

The integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) for the James Webb Telescope is one of the most sophisticated instruments ever assembled and tested, reported Matthew Greenhouse (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) in the conference on UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts.

There are four major instruments on the module.

  • The NIRCam is a near IR-imaging system covering the wavelength region of .6 to 5 microns, utilizing all refractive optics and a 2,048 x 2,048 pixel HgCdTe focal plane array.
  • The NIRSpec is a multi-object spectrometer capable of measuring the spectra of 100 objects simultaneously. This is accomplished by using an array of micro shutters at the entrance to the spectrometer. From the entire image field the desired objects are identified and only those that do not overlap on the imaging detector are allowed to enter the spectrometer by opening the appropriate shutters and leaving the conflicting object shutters closed.
  • The mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) is a broad-band imager covering the wavelength range of 5 to 29 microns. It has a built-in coronagraph for distinguishing objects around stars as well as a low- and medium-resolution spectrometer.
  • Finally, the field guidance system (FGS) and the near-IR imaging science sensor (NIRISS) provide the pointing and tracking capability for the telescope as well as a GRISM spectrometer (a spectrometer utilizing a combination of prisms and gratings) for exoplanet transit spectroscopy.

The ISIM has recently been completely assembled and is currently undergoing space environmental testing in the Goddard Space Environment Simulator.


Speedy microscopy for digital pathology

Changhuei Yang, Caltech professor in electrical engineering, bioengineering and medical engineering, provided insights from several projects his group is pursuing. In his invited paper, "Addressing biomedicine throughput needs through chip-scale microscopy," in the conference on Biosensing and Nanomedicine, Yang noted that conventional microscopy is ill-suited to address the fast-paced growth of microscopy throughput requirements.

His group focuses on developing chip-scale microscopy technologies to address this issue. Among their projects is Fourier ptychographic microscopy (FPM), enabling  a computational approach. Data gathered by using OLEDs to scan at differing angles and low resolution is processed to compute phase and intensity, rendering wide field-of-view, high-resolution images. The cost of the process is lower than what is currently used for digital pathology, and would enable a general practitioner to prep and scan sample in the clinic, and electronically send results to a pathologists for speedy examination and diagnosis. FPM provides a low-cost modification that pushes current standard technology beyond its physical limitations, Yang said.


Focusing on critical career choices

OP13 Career Choices Panel Discussion

Christina Willis, Nishant Mohan, Jijo Ulahannan, Rachel Won and Jeremy Bos (l-r) moderated a panel discussion with student program alumni focusing on career choices, finding jobs, and maintaining work-life balance. Willis said about pursuing her PhD, "I found I was a plumber, an electrician, and a custodian, among other things. Learning is a broad set of skills."


Getting started


It all starts in the registration hall. Above, early arrivals sign up for a week of conference talks, panel discussions, professional development courses and networking, networking networking!


Saturday 24 August


SPIE student leaders are the future

Student Chapter Leadership Workshop

Over 220 SPIE students gathered for the Student Leadership Workshop Conference. Facilitated by Jean AbiNader, Senior Advisor with Cultural Savvy (shown, right), the all-day event featured a highly interactive workshop focusing on "cross-cultural dynamics of group leadership: building global dexterity." See more photos in the photo gallery.


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