|Tuesday evening's welcome reception at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts was well-attended.
Among those enjoyng the event were (below left) Hot Topics speaker Sarah Bohndiek and
symposium chair Francis Berghmans, and (below right) SPIE President Robert Lieberman
and Ignacio Moreno of Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche.
More than 1,200 attendees enjoyed technical talks, social events, industry updates, and the Innovation Village and exhibition during the SPIE Photonics Europe.
Browse below or click on the links at right to see photos and reports from the event.
Open under sunny skies in Brussels
Photonics Europe enjoyed an excellent start under blue skies on Sunday 3 April at the Square Meeting Centre in Brussels, despite a few ongoing travel difficulties. Attendees found creative ways to get around the airport closure by flying to other nearby cities and taking other forms of public transportation.
Those who arrived over the weekend found the city open for business with many people outdoors enjoying the spring weather, sightseeing at the major attractions, and partaking in the hospitality of local restaurants.
A greater-than-usual police and security presence around the main areas is providing a sense of reassurance, and has not impacted the normal daily routine of locals and visitors.
Below, visitors to the Square enjoy the warmth of Brussels' spring weather.
ePIXfab and game-changing silicon photonics
An ePIXfab training course drew a full audience Sunday morning to learn more about silicon photonics and its potential applications. ePIXfab is a European alliance of organizations that promotes silicon photonics science, technology, and applications, and is open to any European organizations that share the mission.
Opening speaker Roel Baets of the Universiteit Gent (above) outlined basic concepts, technologies, and applications of silicon photonics.
Eva Ryckeboer of ACTPHAST spoke about her organization's initiatives for small and medium enterprises, and its roles in making connections between projects and experts, and providing ideas about proposal development and target technologies.
Other elements of the course included a more detailed look at applications of such as communications, spectroscopy, and sensing, as well as diving into the design and manufacturing challenges.
The workshop closed with a demonstration and poster session featuring speakers from IHP, imec, Luceda Photonics, Phoenix, VLC, and VTT. Workshop sponsors were Luceda Photonics, Phoenix Software, and the Universiteit Gent.
Silicon photonics: state of the art
An engaged audience listened to talks Sunday covering a range of technologies in the Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits conference, by speakers introduced by conference chair Laurent Vivien of CNRS Université Paris-Sud.
Mile Ivanda, Institut Ruder Boškovic, gave an invited talk (9891-6) on nano- and micro-structured silicon/organic hybrid near-infrared photodetectors. After providing background of the current state of the art and motivation for this work, the paper went on to describe the manufacturing methods for these novel nanostructural silicon devices. Applications include gas sensing and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and the technique allows for enhanced sensitivity currently being pursued.
Dmitry Fedyanin, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, (9891-8) spoke on low-loss CMOS copper plasmodia waveguides at the nanoscale, followed by Dries Vercruysse from imec (9891-9) on density-controlled nanophotonics waveguide gratings for efficient on-chip out-coupling in the near field.
Student workshop for next-generation leaders
SPIE visiting lecturer Jean-luc Doumont of Principae (at right in photo above at left) and SPIE Early Professional Coordinator Dirk Fabian facilitated an interactive all-day workshop for members of students from SPIE chapters and clubs who travelled from 15 countries on 6 continents to gather in Brussels. At right, SPIE President Robert Lieberman (Lumoptix) extends a welcome; below, the group pause for a photo.
Nanophotonics: quantum techniques, life sciences applications
SPIE Photonics Europe's largest conference on Nanophotonics got under way Sunday afternoon, opened by conference chair David Andrews (University of East Anglia) and program committee member Angus Bain (University College London).
Leading off with a keynote talk was Edward Rogers, Optoelectronic Research Centre, University of Southampton (9884-1), on superoscillatory focusing techniques and quantum superoscillations. He was followed by an invited talk given by Ludovic Jullien, École Normale Supérieure, (9884-2) on the use of light-based approaches for control and analysis of biological processes.
Sensor design for medical application
Optical Sensing and Detection conference chair Frances Berghmans (B-PHOT Vrije Universiteit Brussel) welcomed the audience to the opening session.
Sylvain Lecler of the Université de Strasbourg, at right, (9899-1) spoke on 3D printed MRI-compatible piezo-optic force sensor. With specific medical applications in mind, the researchers developed a monolithic sensor design that is compatible with operation in an MRI. They used 3D additive manufacturing to produce the specialized device. Performance characteristics were reviewed along with plans for future work.
Students lunch with the experts
|From left, Joveria Baig, Robert Lieberman, Ahmed Dorrah, Alan Yeh
Nearly 100 students attended Monday's SPIE Student Lunch with the Experts to interact with fellow students, and network with experts in the field of optics and photonics. SPIE President Robert Lieberman awarded SPIE travel scholarships to Joveria Baig, Ahmed Dorrah, and Alan Yeh. The scholarships helped with travel expenses allowing the students to attend SPIE Photonics Europe.
Peter Hartmann of SCHOTT AG led the Schott Workshop on the Properties of Optical Glass and Special Optical Materials as part of the industry events being presented throughout the week at Photonics Europe.
Hartmann offered an introduction to optical materials such as optical glass, special optical glass, filters from colored glasses or made by coating and the zero-expansion glass ceramic Zerodur.
More events are detailed in the industry programme.
Inspirational leadership in interdisciplinary research
|From left, Sarah Bohndiek, Ruth Houbertz, Elena Zagaynova
Sarah Bohndiek of the University of Cambridge VISION Lab and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute moderated a panel discussion on what makes an inspirational leader and manager. "Drive, integrity, curiosity, passion, grit, and self-confidence are crucial to success," said Bohndiek. "Always leave all doors open, because you never know where you'll end up."
Ruth Houbertz with Multiphoton Optics GmBH and Elena Zagaynova with Nizhny Novgorod Medical Academy shared the journeys and experiences that led them to where they are today, focusing on interdisciplinary research teams and considering the challenges related to female leadership in STEM fields.
Lighting the future of photonics: Hot Topics
John Dudley, professor at the Université de Franche-Comté and steering committee chair of the IYL2015, delivered an inspiring speech celebrating the achievements of the United Nations-declared observance.
With activities around the world, the observance reached millions of people in more than 100 countries, and members of the optics and photonics community remain committed to raising awareness of how light science and technologyprovide soluitons to the many challenges facing the world.
Dudley concluded with a powerful quote from Nelson Mandela about the power of education to change the world, noting that education via science outreach activities and teaching programs is promising for fostering global advancements in democracy for future generations to come.
High-power fiber lasers: Hot Topics
Historically, laser optical devices had low surface-to-volume ratio-geometries, which resulted in poor heat dissipation and mode instabilities, effectively restricting the output power and causing laser beam distortions.
In his informative and engaging talk, César Jauregui Misas, Friedrich Schiller-Universität Jena, clearly addressed these limitations with a particular focus on the design of high-power fiber lasers. He provides insight into the latest fiber laser geometry designs to address the issues of thermal effects and modal instability, with the ultimate goal of overcoming heat-related limitations, achieving excellent beam quality with high efficiency and better thermal management.
Alternatively, not dissimilar to the "death star laser" concept in the Star Wars movie series, the "coherent combining" technique splits and amplifies laser pulses before recombining them into a more powerful single output pulse.
Misas pointed out that this novel approach allows for performance scaling, enabling the development of new high-power fiber laser systems and new technologies, such as new types of particle accelerators driven by high-power lasers, which in turn will open up doors to possible applications such as proton therapy or medical imaging.
Attosecond band-gap dynamics: Hot Topics
Just as a high-speed camera is required to visualise the wing oscillations of hummingbirds, a high-speed measurement set-up is required to characterise fast quantum mechanical processes.
Attosecond spectroscopy, following on the first observation of attosecond pulses 15 years ago, can serve as an "attosecond" camera to examine these quantum-physical phenomena, attaining precision on a time scale below what can be measured by the atomic clock.
Currently, in theoretical calculations using the Schrödinger equation, several quantum mechanical processes are assumed to occur simultaneously.
Martin Schultze, Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics and Ludwig Maximilians University, explained how attosecond spectroscopy challenges this assumption experimentally by enabling real-time observation of the excitation of electrons and their interaction with phonons, other electrons, and photons at the sub-femtosecond scale. These extremely short laser pulses allow for extremely high temporal resolution visualisation of these ultra-fast physical processes, measuring very precisely the transient dynamics of the electron excitations including spatial representation of the distribution of electrons.
His research suggests to look at the modification of the ultrashort pulses in order to extract information of those processes, which may expand our knowledge of photon-matter interaction in the field of quantum mechanics.
Connecting at the poster receptions
|A poster reception (above) on Monday evening provided opportunity to see new work
as well as to talk with colleagues old and new.
Hospitality at historic Town Hall
|Guests enjoyed a reception in Brussels' historic Town Hall Monday evening.
Graphene leaders look to the future
The unique and promising properties of graphene -- comprising a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-shaped lattice -- were explored in a well-attended daylong workshop on Tuesday.
At the end of the day, consensus among speakers and an industry panel was that the most promising nearer-term applications are in communications.
Workshop chairs were Frank Koppens of ICFO -- Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques, Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, and Nathalie Vermeulen of B-PHOT -- Brussels Photonics Team, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Speakers brought perspectives from leading graphene research centers in industry and academia, such as the CNIT National Laboratory for Photonics Networks, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, ICFO, Cambridge Graphene Centre at the University of Cambridge, IHP -- Leibniz-Institut fuer innovative Mikroelektronik, IMEC, and RWTH Aachen University.
"Integrated photonics is a promising technology for improving communications as data rates rise," noted CNIT's Marco Romagnoli.
Applications such as metal detection, quality assurance, medical spectroscopy, integrity checks, breath gas analysis, temperature sensing, and biosensing were also discussed.
The day's final panel targeted the bottom line, discussing next steps and challenges in commercializing graphene-based technologies, in brief presentations followed by a lively discussion. Broadband light detectors, gas sensors, and EUV pellicles could be among the first devices made from graphene, the panel agreed.
For more on the workshop:
Networking at the Photonics Europe Exhibition
Researchers and engineers are connecting with leading companies throughout Europe. The latest equipment featuring optical components, lasers, fiber optics, detectors, sensors, cameras, and other instrumentation for the optics and photonics fields is all under one roof.
SPIE Fellows Luncheon
Michael Liehr, Associate Vice President of Strategy at SUNY Polytechnic Institute's Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and CEO of the American Institute for Manufacturing Photonics (AIM), presented an overview of the recently established AIM Photonics consortium headquartered in New York, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, New York State, and industrial partners to advance the state of the art in the design, manufacture, testing, assembly, and packaging of integrated photonic devices.
Compared to the semiconductor industry, the production of photonics devices is highly non-standardized. If the photonics industry is to scale to larger markets and more ubiquitous products, particularly in the data communications world, Liehr described how it needs to follow the model of other industries that have standardized production.
Few optics products made on a wafer produce more than 1000 units per year, and that isn't enough to interest large scale fabrication companies. AIM Photonics fills this gap. Its goal is to support company projects between manufacturing readiness level (MRL) 4-9. The AIM Photonics network is currently looking for partners and proposals. If accepted, companies have one year to decide to join the project.
Kurt Ronse, IMEC, was honored as a new Fellow of SPIE at the luncheon, for achievements in microlithography and advanced patterning. He has become one of the most influential lithography managers in the research community and has led the transition from 248 nm to 193 nm deep ultraviolet, as well as the effort to develop 157 nm lithography and the eventual adoption of 193 nm immersion.
||Bob Lieberman, Kurt Ronse
Remembrance and honors
Photonics Europe General Chair Frances Berghmans opened Tuesday's Hot Topics with a memoriam to Wolfgang Sandner, Director General of the Extreme Light Infrastructure Delivery Consortium (ELI-DC) International Association. Sandner died 5 December. He was 66.
"Wolfgang's passing is a big loss for the entire photonics community. We all applaud his legacy of leadership and inspiration," said Berghman.
Sandner authored more than 200 publications including numerous papers for SPIE. Recently, he had served on the steering committees for SPIE Optics + Optoelectronics 2015, and he had been scheduled to give a featured talk at SPIE Photonics Europe 2016.
Read his tribute here.
SPIE President Bob Lieberman took the stage to honor the 2016 recipient of the Joseph W. Goodman Bookwriting Award, Valery Tuchin, Saratov State University, Institute of Optics and Biophotonics. The biennial award is funded by J.W. and H.M. Goodman. The award recognizes authorship of an outstanding book in the field of optics and photonics, published in the last six years, that has contributed significantly to research, teaching, or the optics and photonics industry. The award is co-sponsored by SPIE and OSA.
Tuchin recieved the award for Tissue Optics: Light Scattering Methods and Instruments for Medical Diagnosis, 3rd ed., published by SPIE Press in 2015.
||Bob Lieberman, Valery Tuchin
Ultrahigh-resolution models of the human brain: Hot Topics
More intricate than other species', the human brain is organised in multilevel spatial scales and is constantly adapting and changing over space and time.
In a live Skype call during Tuesday afternoon's Hot Topics session, Katrin Amunts, Director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in INM-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and Cecile and Oskar Vogt Institute for Brain Research, University of Düsseldorf, asserted that understanding the geography of the human brain is crucial to shedding light on how the brain organises specific cognitive functions or emotional tasks.
Mapping efforts are a central part of the Human Brain Project and the BRAIN Initiative, Amunts noted. Human brain atlasing analyses post-mortem brain slices using a large-area polarimeter, making it possible to reconstruct the brain digitally as a ultrahigh-resolution 3D model (BigBrain). This integrates data from different levels of the brain generating multimodal data with multiple data formats and creating cytoarchitectonic maps.
These highly detailed quantitative probabilistic maps enable us to examine location-specific cellular architecture that in turn allows us to establish positive links between function and region, identifying areas of the brain specialised in cognitive tasks or emotional processing. Finally, 3D-polarised light imaging (PLI) makes it possible to generate unprecedented high-resolution fibre orientation and axon maps.
This field of research is hampered by a large number of challenges. The efficiency of the analysis is limited by the sheer size of the brain and its complex anatomy. The process is exceptionally laborious and time-consuming, not to mention the data size and extreme computational processing limitations.
The BigBrain model has proven to be a significant simulation tool in neuroscience research but its potential remains to be realized, Amunts said.
Exciting and detecting new contrast in biomedical optics: Hot Topics
At the University of Cambridge VISION Lab and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, director Sarah Bohndiek's team is particularly interested in nanophotonic detection methods for the early diagnosis of cancer.
These novel imaging methods allow for measuring changes in metabolic and cellular processes such as oxidative stress as well as changes in fluorescence, absorption, and scattering that occur throughout the progression of the disease.
Optic clinical imaging, which uses low-energy lasers, is useful for targeting a wide range of cellular processes related to cancer diagnosis but is limited by inherent properties, namely, shallow penetration power due to light scattering and absorption in tissues. The generated images give poor diagnostic information that does not reveal spatial information or colour changes that are characteristic of abnormal tissues.
Alternatively, optoacoustic imaging works in combination with wavelength-dependent endogenous chromophores and is able to overcome these limitations by the use of longer wavelengths (near-IR), leading to minimal tissue absorption and improving spatial resolution and penetration depth. This enables the visualisation of tumours and their vascular feeding networks. However, it is limited by acoustic attenuation.
Other emerging modalities under multidimensional endoscopy include hyperspectral imaging (HSI), a new approach that combines imaging and spectroscopy, effectively measuring fluorescent transmitted light from tissues, and generating a 3D dataset of spatial and spectral information. Despite significant sensitivity limitations of HSI, this modality ultimately allows for better targeting biopsies and tracking changes in cellular microstructures such as dysplasia.
Photonics industry in Europe: a comprehensive view
|From left, Ruth Houbertz, James Regan, and Jürgen Stuhler participated on a panel discussion on
challenges to commercialisation as part of the Photonics Europe Industry Programme.
Ronan Burgess, Acting Head of the European Commission's Photonics Unit, kicked off the Photonics Europe Industry Programme on Wednesday with a review of the Horizon 2020 Programme. He noted that H2020 is the largest research and innovation programme ever in the EU, providing €77B of funding from 2014 through 2020, a 27% increase over the previous funding period from 2007 through 2013.
H2020 main objectives are investment in future jobs and growth, addressing the population's concerns about their livelihoods, safety, and environment, and strengthening the EU's global position in research, innovation and technology.
In terms of H2020 results to date Burgess also mentioned that in 2014 and 2015, 46 photonics projects have been funded with €180M. He said a broad range of (photonics) topics are covered by these funds and industry participation has been strong, representing about 52% of participants.
Looking forward, Burgess spent the last part of his talk describing the "Digitization of Europe -- a Megatrend."
Burgess was followed by AIM Photonics CEO Michael Liehr who presented an overview of the newly established American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics based in New York State. AIM Photonics is an industry driven public-private partnership intended to create a national photonics integrated circuit manufacturing infrastructure in the US, he said.
Liehr noted that although the project is US-based he would welcome participation from outside the US, with the stipulation that non-US companies interested in participating must have US-based subsidiaries.
A two-hour panel discussion followed with three panelists from two startups and a more-established company discussing the challenges and pitfalls of commercializing technology.
Panel moderator was James Regan, CEO of Effect Photonics, which specializes in optical integration for DWDM applications and was 2014 winner of the Invest in Photonics Best Company award.
Panelists were Ruth Houbertz, CEO of 3D lithography equipment supplier Multiphoton Optics GmbH, and Jürgen Stuhler, Senior Director Quantum Technologies at Toptica Photonics AG, which produces lasers for scientific and industrial applications.
Panelists described their own companies and then responded to many questions from the audience. Common themes included the need to listen to and understand your customer, the difficulties of raising funds, having a strong team, and the need for networking.
Regan noted that generally speaking venture investment in hardware has become relatively difficult to find, and even more so for photonics hardware.
Photonics Innovation Village: entrepreneurs make their pitches
|Winner: SPIE Startup Challenge: FASTREE3D
Developed as a way to support and publicize research teams from universities, non-profit institutions and research centers who are working on research, new applications, and product development, the Photonics Innovation Village brought together nine projects to showcase Europe's (and the world's) finest research programs and to encourage the transfer of optics and photonics research and technology into new and useful products.
The seventh edition of the Photonics Innovation Village was organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. By taking part in the competition, innovative researchers were able to showcase their latest research to industry innovators and other photonics visionaries.
Category winners received cash awards sponsored by the Brussels Capital Region Government. New this year is an SPIE-sponsored travel grant for one Innovation Village team to attend Photonics West and pitch in the 2017 Startup Challenge.
At the awards presentation on Wednesday afternoon, SPIE President Bob Lieberman thanked the jury who had the difficult task of ranking the projects, with the outcome being "incredibly close."
The SPIE travel grant to attend Photonics West and pitch in the 2017 Startup Challenge went to FASTREE3D (EPFL), for their project "Fastree3D develops next generation 3D imaging sensors that recognize and locate fast moving objects in 3D in real-time."
The top prize in the category of "Best Innovation by an Individual Researcher" went to Photonic Jet Microetching Station (Icube laboratory) for the project "Photonic Jet Station: Using a shaped tip optical fibre to generate the photonic jet phenomenon."
The first runner-up was University of Twente (University of Twente) for the project "EasyTIRf: a low cost slide holder with integrated led illumination."
The winners in the category of "Best Innovation by a Multilateral Project, Organisation or Company" went to Zeroptica (University College Cork & AMBER Centre -- Trinity College Dublin) for the project "Zeroptica eliminates light reflections off optical surfaces by nano-structuring."
The first runner-up prize went to MINERVA (Vivid Components) for the project, "Mid-to near infrared spectroscopy for improved medical diagnostics."
|Winner: Best Innovation by an
|First runner-up: Best Innovation by an
|Winner: Best Innovation by a Multilateral
Project, Organisation, or Company
|Runner-up: Best Innovation by a Multilateral
Project, Organisation, or Company
Mesoscale tissue mechanics: Hot Topics
Analogous to ultrasound tomography, optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive optical imaging technique that measures the back reflection of infrared light, achieving superior resolution compared to the longer wavelengths of sound. OCT enables high-resolution cross-sectional visualisation of shear stress and integrity of connective tissues, allowing for applications such as lymph-node related breast cancer diagnosis and follow-up of disease treatments in ophthalmology and optometry, and lesions and skin scars.
In his Hot Topics talk, David Sampson, Winthrop Professor and director of the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis at the University of Western Australia, described how OCT elastography estimates biomechanical properties of tissues using high-sensitivity imaging to show strain-dependent texture changes.
Although still in its infancy, OCT elastography is superior to standard diagnostic tools such as the purely qualitative optical palpation, given that it offers the extra advantage of quantifying the elasticity and hardness of tissues, from which pathological histology can be derived. This allows for the accurate determination of tumours due to the difference between adipose and disruptive tissue that is characteristic of disease conditions. As such, it is a valuable tool for tumour diagnosis.
In the future, OCT elastography may prove to be a valuable addition to intra-operational imaging in the surgical removal of tumours preventing the need for second excision surgeries.
"We are a long way from being able to conduct complete mechanical characterisation since there is a need for better probes, deeper imaging depths and higher resolutionon," Sampson concluded. "However, there will be many more exciting experiments to come."
Single-photon ghost imaging with a camera: Hot Topics
In conventional camera systems, explained Miles Padgett of the University of Glasgow in his Hot Topics talk Thursday, the image of an object is created using a light-sensitive pixel array that collects the photons reflected from the object.
To have decent image quality, the amount of photons captured by each pixel should be sufficiently high. This means that in low light conditions, the performance of the camera drops. Moreover, the pixel array is often only sensitive in a certain optical frequency range, thus limiting the range of applications.
To tackle those two problems in a convenient setup, the "ghost imaging» technique, based on detecting entangled photon pairs, can be used to take an image of a certain object. In the setup, a sensor will measure whether one of the photons is transmitted through the object.
If so, the sensor will detect the photon and will switch on an array of single photon detectors that catches the other photon. As this photon is position-correlated with the photon that was transmitted through the object at a certain position, the image of the object can be reconstructed on a pixel array that is able to detect single photons.
Current cameras require about 1010 photons to form an image. The team has demonstrated the successful reduction of the required number of photons from 105 to 103. Not unlike the mechanisms used in existing image compression methods, these mechanisms use a cost function according to the likelihood of the shapes in an image which can be minimised for optimising the image. In this way, plausible images can be acquired for as few as 700 photons in a mere 20 seconds, compared to the 2000 seconds for a high quality-unprocessed image.
'Graphene workshop bets on carbon futures'
optics.org, 14 April 2016
'Commercialising new tech: advice for photonics start-ups'
Electro Optics, 11 April 2016
'Digitisation "big opportunity" for photonics, says European Commission's Burgess'
Electro Optics, 8 April 2016
'Graphene has to show maturity before CMOS integration, say panel at Photonics Europe'
Electro Optics, 7 April 2016
'AIM Photonics reports progress at Photonics Europe'
optics.org, 7 April 2016
'Graphene shows promise for next-generation optical communications'
optics.org, 6 April 2016
'Raman probe can help pinpoint epidural injections'
optics.org, 5 April 2016
SPIE press releases
'Graphene research and industry leaders will meet to advance commercial applications'
4 February 2016
'Leading international researchers to keynote SPIE Photonics Europe'
1 December 2015
All photos © SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, except where noted.
Contributors: Stacey Crockett, Dirk Fabian, Felicity Lee, Andrew Brown, Peter Hallett