Several hundred people attended the BiOS Hot Topics session on the first evening of SPIE Photonics West.
SAN FRANCISCO, California, USA -- A record number of international participants attended SPIE Photonics West 2013 this week, launching new products, connecting with researchers, developers, and suppliers, and reporting on new and as-yet unpublished quality-of-life advances in the light-based technologies of optics and photonics. Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the event ran 2-7 February at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Total registered attendance, at 20,737, was up more than 2% from last year. The exhibitions were larger (1,238 companies in the Photonics West Exhibition, and 224 in the BiOS Expo), and there were more papers (over 4,500) in the technical program.
Even more than numbers of booth visitors, exhibitors said they were happy with the quality. "This is the best Photonics West I've seen in 10 years -- and they all are great," said Kerry Van Iseghem, co-founder of Imaging Solutions Group.
"Photonics West is the place to meet everybody we need to," said Robert Miller, Business Manager, Optoelectronics and Photovoltaics, at EMD Chemicals. "Because we're not just a photonics company, it's very important to be able to expand our horizons, and with so many diverse companies here, it really fits our needs."
"In past years, people stopping at the booth have asked, who are you, what do you do. This year, people know what we do. They're saying, I have this application -- how can you help me, or I have an idea -- how can I work with you on this," said Bonnie Van Wie, Marketing Communications Coordinator, OFS Specialty Photonics.
Technical papers were presented in four major areas: biomedical optics, lasers, optoelectronics, and MOEMS-MEMS (micro-opto-electro-mechanical and micro-electro-mechanical systems). Attendance was strong, despite some concern around U.S. government travel funding restrictions.
BiOS symposium chair Jim Fujimoto (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) said the challenge for the community in the face of pressure on federal funds for research is relevance. "We're at the point now where many of the technologies that are being developed here can be translated to clinical applications and have real-world clinical impacts," he said.
LASE symposium chair Andreas Tünnermann (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering and Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena) said he found optimism among conference attendees from science and from industry, despite financial troubles in Europe and elsewhere. "People are looking at a bright future; they believe in what they are doing," he said. "They are here to think about a lot of products, and to bring these products to the market.
An ongoing theme of the week was the potential for the technology and the commitment on the part of researchers to "help others," as BiOS symposium chair Rox Anderson (Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School) noted. A session on new biomedical optics technologies with life-saving potential illustrated his point. Among the eight talks were:
- Ernst Baumberg (Max Planck Institute) on optogenetics, a relatively new field that uses light to map and control living brain or nerve tissues, and loss of sight, stroke, and other conditions.
- Ben Potsaid (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on optical coherence tomography (OCT), a powerful optical technique for imaging through living tissue and mapping blood flow for disease diagnostics.
- Jonathan Sorger (Intuitive Surgical) on the use of robotics in surgery and their influence in reducing bleeding, chance of infection and length of hospital stay.
"Green photonics" technologies to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing, lighting, and computing received special focus, in a panel discussion by industry executives on opportunities in emerging sustainable technologies and through awards recognizing top papers in the field.
Other panels featured executives of Intel, Oracle, and Philips Lumileds along with leading laser and optics suppliers and manufacturers and venture capitalists.
Innovation was spotlighted, in presentation of the annual Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation for new inventions, and the SPIE Startup Challenge pitch contest for aspiring photonics entrepreneurs.
Apple, Intel, and Microsoft were among 27 recruiting companies in the SPIE Job Fair, along with companies including Daylight Solutions, Halma Photonics, and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging.
"Our attendees were very happy in San Francisco this week, because Photonics West is the best place to connect with other researchers, engineers, executives, and suppliers, discover what's new, and develop insights and ideas that only happen when smart people come together for face-to-face conversations," said Peter Hallett, SPIE Marketing and Industry Relations Director. "SPIE creates a productive environment that amplifies serendipity by bringing together thousands of creative people from across technical disciplines, leading to new possibilities, relationships, and projects that would not occur if you missed Photonics West."
See day-by-day reports, photos, and video from the event.
SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 225,000 constituents from approximately 150 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional growth, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.
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