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Photonics quality, costs, IP are top concerns in SPIE industry survey for Harnessing Light committee

04 August 2011

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Quality, costs, and intellectual property confidence rated high on the list of concerns for respondents to an industry survey this spring by SPIE.

The survey was designed to provide input to the U.S. National Academies update of its 1998 study, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century. Comments will be provided to the high-level committee appointed to research and write the new study.

Supply chains raised concerns in the SPIE survey, with 59% of respondents concerned about global supply chains for optical and photonic components and devices, and 51% over U.S. supply chains.

While the advantage of cost was rated very high in non-U.S. supply chains, confidence in protection of intellectual property rated very low.

For U.S. supply chains, quality was seen as the strongest advantage, and cost the least beneficial.

Stability among companies was a major concern, with market control by government seen as a global threat, and mergers as the greatest threat within the U.S.

Respondents rated all photonics technologies as having some level of importance for future development.

Laser components and systems rated the highest, followed by military and industrial detectors and sensors, cameras and imaging devices and processing, and fiber optics and communications technologies.

The survey is being reopened and made accessible on Harnessing Minds, a blog launched by SPIE to encourage further comments for the committee from throughout the photonics industry.

SPIE Past President Paul McManamon (U.S. Air Force, Rtd.; Univ. of Dayton), co-chair of the Harnessing Light committee, encouraged comments on the Harnessing Minds blog as a way to inform the committee's work.

In particular, McManamon said the committee would like to see answers posted to questions such as:

  • What are the grand challenges of our times?
  • What more can be done to establish photonics as a key strategic technology?
  • What are the barriers to progress in your field?
  • How do we ensure that we keep manufacturing jobs?

The blog complements live town-hall style forums being held at SPIE events including the upcoming Optics + Photonics symposium in San Diego, California. That session is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday 22 August in the San Diego Convention Center, and is open to the public.

"SPIE joins our partner societies in encouraging comments from all sectors using photonics on issues such as scope -- what applications of photonics technology should be included in the study -- and impact -- how can photonics technologies boost the economy and quality of life," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. SPIE provided over $2.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2010.

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