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Lasers & Sources

Economy takes toll on laser industry

The global financial mess has taken a toll on the laser industry and estimates are for it to fall 11.3% this year to reach $6.32 billion. Attendees at the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar held in conjunction with SPIE Photonics West were told 26 January that the question is not how bad 2009 will be but whether the laser industry will recover in 2010.

The overwhelming sentiment of most of the presentations in the seminar was that when recovery occurs, the laser industry will be poised for continued growth because no other technologies stand to displace the inroads that lasers have made in biomedical, defense, materials and microelectronics processing, entertainment and displays, and research and instrumentation markets.

Michael Lebby, president and CEO of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association, said that photonics is uniquely poised to deliver "green" solutions to address the potential 50% increase in the global demand for electricity by the year 2025. And these green solutions go beyond the obvious photovoltaic technologies and solid-state lighting advances into the use of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) for wind-turbine optimization to Bragg grating optical sensors for improved downhole oil extraction.