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Solar, nanoscience, photonics, optical engineering advanced at SPIE Optics and Photonics

10 August 2009

BELLLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Experts from around the world connecting at SPIE Optics and Photonics in San Diego last week reported on advances in technologies for sustainable energy and research in nanoscience, photonics, and optical engineering.

With 4,837 attendees, participation at the annual conference and exhibition was strong. Despite the year's economic struggles, companies among the 248 exhibiting said they made good connections, and the number of walk-in visitors to the exhibition was up over last year.Award winners Charles Vest, Hans Tiziani, and Ralph James

"This was the best incarnation of SPIE Optics and Photonics in which we've exhibited to date. I've exceeded the previous highest number of leads I've ever had," said Michael Dorin, Director of Sales and Marketing for Scientific Solutions.

The meeting is a focal point for many technology communities, presenting the largest gatherings for optical engineering and for nanoscience and nanoengineering.

Solid-state lighting is another core area. "SPIE has been involved in solid-state lighting from the beginning, and this is the primary technical conference in that area," said Ian Ferguson, chair of the conference on that topic and director of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The meeting's growing solar energy program is also gaining wide attention. Capacity crowds heard several plenary speakers as well as a panel of experts discussing commercialization of next-generation solar technologies.

SPIE, an Organizational Node of the International Year of Astronomy, celebrated the 400th anniversary of the telescope with a number of events. Among them, the San Diego Astronomy Club provided telescopes for an evening of star-gazing, and the College of Optical Sciences at the Univ. of Arizona provided a display of antique telescopes. (Take a short video tour of the telescope display with COS professor John Greivenkamp, and see a clip taken at the star-gazing event.)

Two symposium-wide plenary speakers also focused on astronomy. Jerry Nelson of the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, addressed the building and perfecting of the telescope and astronomical instrumentation over the last 400 years. Tracey Delaney of MIT told how scientific discoveries made in looking out into the universe affect the advancement of science and technology on Earth.

Major awards

Among Society awards announced at a mid-week banquet, Richard Hoover of NASA was presented with the Gold Medal of the Society, Bruce Tromberg was awarded the SPIE Directors Award, and Hans Tiziani was awarded the SPIE President's Award. Banquet speaker Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, received the inaugural Chandra Vikram Award for Optical Metrology. A list of other awards presented is included in daily reports posted from the meeting.

Students, early-career professionals, women optics professionals, and other attendees networked in several workshops and receptions, and scholarship and grants awards were made. This year, SPIE will present a total of $397,000 in scholarships, outreach grants, and travel grants, including $15,000 presented in the Newport Spectra-Physics Research Excellence Travel Awards program.Maria Yzuel, Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug

In a talk at one student event, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs urged students to avoid being "type-cast" as they plan their careers in optics and photonics, and to ruminate on what really drives their passions. "The last century was the century of electronics," Arthurs said. "The 21st century belongs to photons."

Video clips are also available from SPIE Newsroom interviews at the event with Solar Energy Symposium Chair Martha Symko-Davies  and plenary speaker Sarah Kurtz of the National Renewable Energy Lab.

SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics, founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 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. In 2008, the Society provided more than $1.9 million in support of scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world. For more information, visit SPIE.org.

Photo captions

Top right, above: From left, Charles Vest, recipient of the SPIE Chandra Vikram Award for Optical Metrology and President of the National Academy of Engineering; Hans Tiziani, recipient of the SPIE President's Award and Professor Emeritus of the Univ. of Stuttgart; and SPIE President-Elect Ralph James of Brookhaven National Lab; at the annual SPIE awards banquet Wednesday 5 August.

Lower right, above: SPIE President María Yzuel of the Univ. Autónoma de Barcelona (at left), and Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, display a solar cooker used by women in refugee camps in Chad, in a project supported by Schwarta-Getzug's organization. Schwartz-Gutzug spoke at a Women in Optics reception on Monday 3 August.

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