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SPIE joins in laser celebration at Strathclyde

New report highlights importance of lasers in Scottish economy

04 November 2010

A photo display created by SPIE paid tribute to laser luminaries, at the Scottish National Celebration.

A photo display created by SPIE to pay tribute to laser luminaries was part of the Scottish National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser. At left is a rangefinder contributed by Thales Glasgow (formerly Barr & Stroud). See more photos below.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- The well-attended Scottish National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser in Glasgow this week provided an apt setting for the launch of a new report noting the high value of the laser industry to Scotland's economy. The event was organized by the Department of Physics at the University of Strathclyde in cooperation with SPIE and other organizations and several laser companies.

Laser-enabled photonics contributed £660 million in sales and 3,000 jobs to the Scottish economy last year, said the report launched by Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Jim Mather during the 2 November celebration at the Glasgow Science Centre. Mather emphasized the importance of lasers and photonics to the Scottish economy, and the skill base in the country that enables it to be among Scotland's leading industries.

Part of the year-long LaserFest celebration, the event was organized under Strathclyde professor Allister Ferguson, in cooperation with SUPA (the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance), SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics), the Institute of Physics, the IEEE Photonics Society, and OSA (the Optical Society of America). Support was also provided by Thales, Edinburgh Instruments, the Scottish Optoelectronics Association, Selex Galileo, OPTOS, Coherent, M Squared, and Scottish Enterprise. SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs represented the Society at the event.

Speakers included three Nobel Laureates -- United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Eric Cornell (NIST/JILA, University of Colorado), and Roy Glauber (Harvard University) -- and Fellows of the Royal Society David Hanna (University of Southampton), Edward Hinds (Imperial College London), and Stephen Barrett (University of Strathclyde).

Chu's talk concerned the developing range of sustainable energy solutions, and influences of laser cooling and single-molecule biology.

Glauber presented an erudite history of quantum optics starting with Young's slits and the contributions of Maxwell -- a Scot -- and Planck, Einstein, and Dirac that introduced the concept of entanglement or Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" and some of the potential of these effects.

In an entertaining talk on "The Quantum Optics of Stickiness," Cornell described extraordinarily sensitive measurements of atom surface (Casimir Polder) forces, and concluded that he still had "no clue why zero-point field has not crushed us." (See a related video of Cornell from a 2009 talk at Thiagarajar College of Engineering in India.)

Ted Maiman on the first laser
In a 1983 video, Ted Maiman recalls the birth of the laser in his lab at Hughes Research.

Hanna talked on the perspective of viewing the advantage of the laser as multiple orders of brightness more than conventional sources, and what this has made possible in the 50 years since Ted Maiman's breakthrough invention of the first working laser. Hinds addressed microfabrication of small optical circuits and cavities to attain high intensity and enable new quantum technology based on the flow and interaction of photons on integrated chips. Barnett spoke on developments in quantum information enabled by laser technology to address information security needs.

Download video podcasts of talks by Chu, Glauber, and Cornell from the University of Strathclyde website.

Read more about the laser-industry report in the AlphaGalileo article.

See the complete slide-show version of a laser-luminary photo tribute display shown at the Strathclyde event and created by SPIE for the 50th anniversary of the laser, posted on the SPIE Advancing the Laser website.

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, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.

Photos from the event:

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, at left, with SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

Steven Chu, Allister Ferguson, and Jim Mather

From left, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, University of Strathclyde professor Allister Ferguson, and Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Jim Mather talk during the reception.

David Hanna

David Hanna talks about laser technology and the many advances and improvements its development has enabled.


Media Contact:

Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
Tel: +1 360 685 5478

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