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       Friday 17 April
       Thursday 16 April
       Wednesday 15 April
       Tuesday 14 April
       Monday 13 April

    Friday 17 April 2009

    Strong attendance, and a busy exhibition highlight 2009
    The final total attendance count was 6,124, as the meeting wound down on Friday with the final day of conference presentations and professional development courses. The symposium will return to Orlando in 2010 and SPIE expects growth in both technical activities and the exhibition.

    Ray Johnson of Lockheed Martin was chair of the 2009 symposium. This year's co-chair, Michael Eismann of the Air Force Research Lab, will be symposium chair next year, and William Jeffrey of HRL Labs will serve as co-chair for 2010.

    Among Friday’s highlights was a panel discussion and workshop on Industry, Lab, and UniversityCooperation, held as part of the Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications conference. Panelists included Eric Udd, Columbia Gorge Research; Johan Vlekken, Fibre Optic Sensors and Sensing Systems; Alexis Mendez, MCH Engineering LLC; Henry Du, Stevens Institute of Technology; and Anbo Wang, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ.

    Thursday 16 April 2009

    Exhibition breaks records and draws stellar reviews
    The exhibition at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing had broken several records by the time it closed Thursday afternoon. New records were set for the number of exhibiting companies, the amount of booth space, and the number of visitors. Exhibitor feedback reflected those trends:

    Ray Johnson, 2009 Symposium Chair, speaking at the Thursday morning exhibitor breakfast
    “Despite the economic downturn, once again the show has proved to be very successful for us,” said Colin Pearce, founder and CEO of Active Silicon. “One of the aspects I like most about this show is the organization – slick and professional. SPIE has the right business model to attract the right people. It has become a center of excellence for sensing and security technologies, and we as an exhibitor get to showcase our technologies to the right audience.”

    “It was a good show for us,” said Steve Hogg, Director of Vision4ce. “We were pleased with the quality of leads. There was lots of interest in our dedicated imaging processes for hardware and software.”

    “Of the seven shows I’ve been to this year, this was one of the best. It’s been great because people drawn by the technical content at DSS have a real problem they are trying to solve and we can help,” said Dennis Cavanaugh, General Sales Manager, CoorsTek.

    Jamie McCauslin, Manager of Business Operations, SD USA (Semi Conductor Devices USA), said, “This has been a great show. We designed a new, bigger booth and we are very pleased with the traffic – about twice as many leads as last year. There are times when we have been swamped.”

    Special events showcase technical challenges
    Thursday’s technical special events included a presentation by Thomas Carlstrom,
    Thomas Carlstrom
    presenting for Michael Perry of General Atomics, sharing technical requirements for unmanned vehicles, following the Exhibitor Breakfast in the morning.

    A workshop on “Active and Passive Signatures” highlighted vents at the Atmospheric Propagation conference chaired by Charmaine Gilbreath, Naval Research Lab., and Chadwick T. Hawley, National Signature Program. Keynote speaker was the Honorable James B. Longley, Jr., of the Advanced Technical Intelligence Association.

    Thursday evening featured more technical networking, with the second of the week’s major poster sessions.

    Wednesday 15 April 2009

    High traffic at exhibition, technical program, and special events
    The sun returned and the exhibition continued full force at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing in Orlando this week. The number of exhibit visitors was up over last year, and exhibitors were happy with quality as well as quantity of leads. Among them, Ed Linsenmeyer of the Federal Lab Consortium said, "We have had very good traffic, a constant stream of visitors to the booth inquiring about what we do, specific technologies we address, and our Technology Locator service."

    A two-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of mercury-cadmium-telerium (MCT) detector technology opened Wednesday with two days of sessions in the conference on Infrared Technology and Applications. Chair Paul Norton, U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, introduced the program with a talk by Tom Elliott, inventor of the SPRITE detector and early leader of the development and application of the technology. Elliott developed the detector at what was then the Royal Research Establishment, later known as Defence Establishment for Research, Malvern, and now QinteQ. (A video interview with Elliott wil be posted within a few weeks on the SPIE Newsroom.)

    Presentations in the session covered MCT history and R&D in several countries around the world and underscored the wide range of uses for the technology. A program track plenary talk by David Irvin opened the Space Technologies and Operations conferences Wednesday morning. Irvin is Chief of Space-Based Infrared System Systems Engineering at the Space and Missile Sytems Center of the Air Force Space Command in Los Angeles.

    Government funding panel audience
    A panel moderated by SPIE Past President Paul McManamon, Air Force Research Lab. (ret), on government funding drew a standing-room-only crowd on Wednesday afternoon. Presenters addressed future directions in U.S government funding, and included John Pellegrino, Chair, U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command Sensors Technical Focus Team, and Director, Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, U.S. Army Research Laboratory; See Pellegrino's presentation (3MB PDF); Walter Jones, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research; and Brendan Godfrey, Director, Air Force Office of Scientific Research. See Godfrey's presentation (570KB PDF).

    Evening networking events started with a well-attended Early Career Professionals social, followed by the annual awards banquet. Of the 59 new Fellows of SPIE elected this year, several chose to receive their awards at the Defense, Security, and Sensing symposium:
    • Roger Appleby of the QinetiQ Ltd, for specific achievements in mmW imaging.
    • John Carrano of Carrano Consulting, for specific achievements in micro-electro-mechanical systems.
    • Joseph Geary of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, for specific achievements in optical engineering.
    • Glenn Healey of the University of California at Irvine, for specific achievements in multispectral and hyperspectral imaging.
    • Ray Johnson of Lockheed Martin Corp, for specific achievements in optical defense technologies.
    • Keith Lewis of Sciovis Ltd, for specific achievements in thin film optics for high power lasers.
    • Azad Siahmakoun of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, for specific achievements in optical signal processing - devices and systems.
    • Larry Stotts of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for specific achievements in free space laser communications and systems.
    Prof. Kazuo Hotate with SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs and Robert Lieberman (right to left)
    Banquet speaker and Defense, Security, and Sensing Lifetime Achievement Award winner Kazuo Hotate of the Univ. of Tokyo told the audience about his group’s project to develop fiber optic smart sensors for use in monitoring and preparing bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure for strains from sources such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

    Banquet attendees were treated to a performance of traditional Japanese music by Prof. Takeshi Yamakawa, playing the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) and Mrs. Tamae Yamakawa, playing the koto (a 13-stringed instrument). Earlier in the day, Prof. Yamakawa was this year’s recipient of the Biomedical Wellness Pioneer Award, given in the conference on Independent Component Analyses, Wavelets, Neural Networks, Biosystems, and Nanoengineering. Mrs. Yamakawa is a visiting professor at the Univ. of Otago, New Zealand, and at Kumamoto Univ., Japan.

    Tuesday 14 April 2009

    All-Symposium Plenary draws overflow crowd
    Norman Augustine delivers the
    All-Symposium Plenary.
    An audience of more than 1,000 attendees packed the All-Symposium Plenary auditorium and overflow room Tuesday morning for a talk by Norman Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin.

    Augustine said that the pace of change of modern technology requires that the engineering profession reinvent itself, and advised his audience on how to do that.

    Download a podcast of the full talk. Augustine also spoke this week with SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs in a video interview to be broadcast soon from the SPIE Newsroom. See a clip from the interview

    Tuesday technical program highlights:
    The Space Technologies and Operations program track plenary was presented by Manfred Bester, Univ. of California, Berkeley. Bester discussed flight operations at the University that explore the Earth’s orbit and beyond.

    In his paper on “Terahertz quantum cascade lasers; physics, design and applications” (7311-01), Federico Capasso, of Harvard Univ., noted that quantum cascade lasers (QCL) are capable of producing light across a wide wavelength range from the mid-infrared (3-15 micron) to the terahertz range (60-300 microns). These light sources span the gap between typical diode lasers (0.3 – 3 microns) and Thz electronics. These lasers are driven by inter-subband transitions between quantum wells designed and fabricated into the gain region. Mid-IR lasers have been developed to commercial availability with devices capable of producing several watts of output power in this wavelength range. These lasers are finding applications in laser radar, free space communications and active Infrared Countermeasures (IRCM).

    Capasso noted that terahertz quantum cascade lasers are still in the research phase. Their main limitation, at this time, is operation at only very low temperatures, below the range that can be reached by the use of thermoelectric coolers (TECs). The root cause of this appears to be the depopulation of the upper excited states thru nonradiative transitions. This has prompted research in new approaches to designing terahertz sources. One approach is a nonlinear QCL design utilizing difference frequency generation (DFG). In this approach, a dual wavelength (short wavelengths) laser is designed and the difference frequency light is generated (at terahertz frequency) in the nonlinear gain medium.

    The issue with this approach is that the coherence length for the nonlinear region is very short. To address this, current designs incorporate a surface emission scheme that allows multiple regions to contribute to the output power. With this approach, fractions of a microwatt have been achieved at room temperature. Other design enhancements hope to improve on these results. Terahertz laser sources will find applications in medical imaging, imaging for security applications and local oscillators for coherent astronomical measurements.

    Exhibition visitors look over some hardware
    Exhibition Opens
    The largest-ever SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing exhibition literally began with a bang, with a crashing thunderstorm punctuating the opening announcement. This year’s show features 515 exhibiting companies, and includes a display of unmanned vehicles and robotics.

    Attendees enjoy the Welcome Reception
    Professional development, career fair, and networking
    Tuesday also was opening day for the two-day SPIEWorks Career Fair and a full day for the professional development program including a course on technical topics as well as a workshop on leading successful product innovation taught by John Carrano, President of Carrano Consulting and former DARPA program manager and Vice President, Research & Development, Corporate Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Luminex Corporation.

    Tuesday was a day for networking as well. Frances Ligler, U.S. Navy Senior Scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials, Naval Research Lab, talked about leadership, balance, and the value of an active curiosity, at a Women in Optics-sponsored reception and presentation. Closing off the day were the all-symposium Welcome Reception in the Exhibition Hall and the first of the week’s poster sessions.

    Monday 13 April 2009

    Strong energy, synergy at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing
    Positive energy was high as the SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing symposium opened with conferences and a full education program on Monday morning at the Orlando Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Attendees are enjoying the enhanced synergy resulting from the addition of sensing content to the interdisciplinary conference line-up.

    Conference rooms were busy and audiences were big in several sessions, in particular in conferences on on Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies; Unattended Ground, Sea, and Air Sensor Technologies and Applications; Sensor Technology; Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery; and Advanced Photon Counting Techniques.

    Among highlights in technical presentations:

    Wavelets Pioneer Award winner Robert Coifman.
    In paper 7298-04, Cory Hill from JPL spoke about a new technology in IR focal plane arrays, super lattice structure (SLS) array detectors. Currently quantum well infrared photodetectors (QWIPs) are in use for array devices in the mid-wavelength IR (MWIR -4 micron) to the long-wavelength (LWIR) IR regime with a cutoff of 10 microns. Super lattice devices (such as the ones reported here supplied by Raytheon vision systems) are complex structure devices that are grown with alternating quantum well layers of new materials (the addition of antimonide to the structure) that provide tunability and flexibility in the design of future imaging arrays. Initial devices reported quantum efficiencies (QE) of 5% , but current results have improved that now to 50% QE.

    In an invited paper (7306B-72), Kevin Bowyer, Univ. of Notre Dame, challenged the traditional statements of the accuracy of iris biometric recognition results. Iris biometrics is a technique in use for many entry security systems. A camera system captures the image of the eye of an approaching possible employee, the iris is identified (that region surrounding the pupil that is usually colored) and the image is unraveled (much like you would a global map projection) into a linear strip. The iris “map” is then digitized to represent the dark structures within the iris. All of this is done in the near infrared wavelength region, where all iris’s appear mostly white (this is because in the visible a large segment of the world’s population have dark iris’s). The newly captured binary iris code is then compared to the original for proof of identity. While this does provide relatively high security (only 1 in 1.2 million times is the image misidentified as a positive one). It is not true that the usability is equally accurate, which means that more frequently than that a valid employee will be mis-identified as invalid. In addition, many questions remain concerning this accuracy in the face of other variables such as; pupil dilation, the use of contacts or glasses and aging of the eye.

    Mark Druy, Conference Chair for Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies, noted that the driving need for handheld and field-deployable spectrometers for a wide range of applications is creating new solutions in spectroscopic technologies. The advent of the tunable laser and MEMS scanning devices, both spinoffs of many years of development in Telecom, are the basis for a number of new systems.

    In paper 7319-03, Lam Nguyen from OPOTEK presented a tunable laser spectrometer capable of 2-6 nm resolution over a wavelength range from 1 to 1.65 microns. The spectrometer works in reflection or transmission mode and has numerous advantages over previously standard spectrometer designs. For example, previously a tungsten source lamp would be used to illuminate the sample and the light collected by a spectrometer for wavelength analysis. The tungsten lamp would heat the sample which is undesirable (maybe even painful) for examining live skin tissue. The fast scanning pulsed laser does not heat the sample and still provides a detailed surface map of reflectance with a full spectrum (over the wavelength region) for each pixel. Numerous examples were presented such as examining the ‘fat’ content of potatoe chips, identifying Bovine protein in animal feed and fabric identification.

    In paper 7319-15, Heinrich Grueger from Fraunhofer-Institute for Photonic Microsystems spoke about a MEMS scanning diffraction grating based spectrometer. One of the most expensive elements in an imaging spectrometer is the imaging array. This array can be replaced by a single detector for standard spectrometer or by a linear array detector for an imaging spectrometer, if the spectrum is scanned across the detector. MEMS scanning mirrors, also developed for Telecom applications, operate at low voltages under resonant mode excitation. The flat mirrored surfaces have been enhanced with blazed coated gratings after several years in development. New low-power-consuming handheld spectroscopic instruments can now be realized through the combination of reflective optics with the scanning diffraction grating and simple detectors. One of the many applications would be monitoring the condition of food aging for restaurants or supermarkets.

    Awards for pioneering work
    The conference on Independent Component Analyses, Wavelets, Neural Networks, Biosystems, and Nanoengineering started with one of four “Pioneer Awards” to be presented this week. The Wavelet award was made to Ronald Coifman of Yale Univ., a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of high-level awards including the DARPA Sustained Excellence Award. Other awardees in the conference this week will include Mark Girolami, Univ. of Glasgow, for ICA Unsupervised Learning; Takeshi Yamakawa, Kyushu Institute of Technology, for Biomedical Wellness; and Olaf Wolkenhauer, Univ. of Rostock, for System Biology.

    Sarka Southern, Chair of Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security (at left), shared her expertise at the Student Lunch with the Experts on Monday.
    Students and experts
    The ever-popuar Student Lunch with Experts provided students with the opportunity to start out the week meeting leaders in their fields and learning more about how to make strong connections in the working world.