As the final day ended, energy and optimism continued to run high in conference rooms and on the exhibit floor. With total registered attendance at 20,324, Photonics West 2012 had more technical papers, exhibiting companies, exhibit visitors, conference attendees, professional development courses, and networking -- and more parties -- than any past year.
In the words of Arnie Bazensky, manager of field sales for SCHOTT's western U.S. Operations, "This show rocks."
SCHOTT was among the 217 companies at both the weekend BiOS Expo as well as the 1,214 exhibiting companies mid-week during the three-day Photonics West Exhibition.
The widely reported exhibitor experience -- heavy traffic and strong leads -- offered compelling signs that the photonics industry continues to be strong even in the midst of uncertainties elsewhere in the global economy.
"The number of sales leads was much more than last year, almost 50 percent up in our booth," said Kevin Heher, sales manager for imaging solutions at BAE Systems.
Conference chairs praised the quality of papers they heard, and offered particularly outstanding examples from among the approximately 4,250 presentations. Read further below in the day-by-day report for notes on specific highlights.
Uri Abrams (above), President of PD-LD, and the 2011 Prism Award winner for Scientific Lasers, said from the exhibition floor, "Turnout has been great: good traffic and the show appears to be growing. This is our biggest show of the year, and the first time we've exhibited at BiOS. If you are going to be at one show during the year, it had better be Photonics West."
Navigating patent law changes
Patent attorney Paul Davis (Goodwin Procter) briefed SPIE Photonics West exhibitors at a breakfast Thursday morning on U.S. patent reform, urging inventors to be the "first to file" with the U.S. Patent Office. (Above, participants comment during a Q&A session.)
Davis explained the ramifications of the America Invents Act, which was signed into law in September. Under the new law, the United States is moving to a system that favors the first person to file for a patent rather than the first to invent. Most other countries have the same rules.
"If you think you're going to file on it, file early," he told the audience, even if it's a provisional application.
Davis has written a white paper on the new law for SPIE exhibitors and SPIE members. It covers filing procedures and fees, prior art studies, and strategies for fighting rejections and challenges and for challenging competing patent applications.
"Ecology will be the economy of the 21st century, and the most energy-efficient company or region will be the most competitive," Matthias Machnig (above), Economy, Labor and Technology minister of Germany's leading optics region told the audience of several hundred at the LASE plenary session.
Machnig said that having an industrial strategy supported by regulations and standards has been vital to the success of Germany, and in particular his region of Thüringen. "We have all experienced the financial crisis," he said. Germany's experience -- coming out of the crisis successfully, with high growth and declining unemployment -- illustrates that economic balance is about real and sustainable productivity, he said.
Machnig noted that in his region 43% of industry costs go to energy and resources, creating both opportunity and need to create efficiencies by employing renewable energy sources.
Commenting on Photonics West, Machnig said the event is "impressive," and creates a vital link between the scientific research community and industry.
In "Plasmonics for beam shaping and wavefront engineering," Federico Capasso (Harvard University) noted that terahertz quantum cascade lasers have very broad wavelength gain and can provide output at multiple wavelengths. However they suffer from poor output beam quality because of their long wavelength and inability to be collimated with traditional methods. Capasso covered the emerging and growing area of plasmonic and metamaterial applications to this problem. Surface plasmons are excited at the laser facet and surface metastructures etched into that surface can be used to provide for improved output beam properties. Single-mode outputs with narrow beam widths or multiple output beams for different wavelengths can be engineered using these methods.
Mike Dunne (National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Lab) provided an update on the facility's progress toward inertial fusion ignition. A primary goal of the current experimental campaign is to create conditions necessary to demonstrate laboratory-scale thermonuclear ignition and burn, as a step toward creating a sustainable energy production source.
Peter Liebinger (TRUMPF) compared two strategies for developing lasers for manufacturing, in the face of increasing availability of varied technologies. One direction focuses on using as few as possible different technologies to address the demands of many applications; alternatively, dedicated laser systems for specific applications based on multiple technologies may be employed.
Optogenetics and silicon photonics
Among presentations in the conference rooms, Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University) said in "Advances in optogenetics" (8220-22) that the goal of optogenetics -- a term coined by Deisseroth to describe a combination of genetic and optical methods to enable activation or silencing of functions in specific cells in living tissue -- is to achieve control of body tissue, not just interrogate it as you might do with optical imaging. It is a combination of optics and genetics to achieve the gain or loss of a function of well-defined events within specific cells of living tissue. Electrical stimulation cannot discriminate between very closely aligned cells, while light can be discriminating as each cell type responds to (or can be engineered to) respond to different wavelengths of light. Deisseroth covered topics such as the speed of response of cells and how to modify them for faster response, methods to increase sensitivity of cells and allow for external light stimulation as well as examples of the application of optogenetics in modifying the behavior of test animals.
In "Silicon photonics in computing applications (8265-03), Michael Watts (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) covered developments in components for computing applications, including data transport, utilizing silicon photonic technologies. Tunable add/drop resonators were discussed utilizing thermal heaters for tuning. Modifications implemented to improve performance include; adiabatic waveguide transition regions, internal heater elements instead of surface mounted heaters and ring as opposed to disk resonator designs. It was noted that nearly half of the power being used by these circuits goes into thermal control and stabilization. Direct integration with CMOS circuits was attempted for detector elements. However it is believed that a hybrid approach will be successful as it allows for optimization of the individual technology elements (CMOS and optics). Other components discussed including memory and peripherals such as USB devices which are growing in their capabilities at twice Moore's Law.
SPIE Technology Achievement Award
The 2011 SPIE Technology Achievement Award was presented by SPIE President Eustace Dereniak (from left, above) and SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg to James Coleman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) in recognition of his contributions to the methods, designs, and demonstrations of selectively grown discrete and monolithically integrated compound semiconductor lasers and photonic devices.
An executive panel featuring executive perspectives on optics and photonics was one of several free sessions organized to explore and advance industry issues. The panel discussed issues such as what can be learned from the collapse of Kodak, profit margins expectations, and future trends. Above from left, panelists were Dirk Rothweiler (Jenoptik), Robert Edmund (Edmund Optics), Timothy Morris (TRUMPF), Kennneth Kaufmann (Hamamatsu), moderator Tom Hausken (Components Practice at Strategies Unlimited), Dennis Werth (Newport), Michael Cumbo (Idex Optics and Photonics), Mark Sobey (Coherent), and host Peter Hallett (SPIE).
Panels also convened on photonics for energy and the environment, silicon photonics and integrated optics, and diagnostic opportunities for nonlinear optical microscopy.
Green photonics in the spotlight
A panel moderated by Steve Eglash (Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University) helped focus attention on issues in green photonics, as part of a virtual conference chaired by Eglash on the topic. Panel members were David Abbott (GE Aviation), Thomas Baer (Stanford Photonics Research), Jyoti Bhardway (Philips Lighting Lumileds), Patricia Glaza (Arsenal Venture Partners), Michael Hochberg (University of Washington), and Eric Wesoff (Greentech Media).
Awards were presented to the top papers in each of four green photonics categories during the week: Solid State Lighting and Displays, Communications, Renewable Energy Generation: Fusion and Photovoltaics, and Laser-assisted Manufacturing and Micro/Nano Fabrication. (Read more in the SPIE press release.)
VIPs and hospitality on the exhibition floor
SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg, at left, and SPIE President Eustace Dereniak congratulated Consul General of Canada Cassie J. Doyle for the outstanding contributions to optics and photonics made by the many Canadian companies and institutes participating in the Canadian pavilion as well as elsewhere on the exhibition floor, during a reception at the pavilion. The reception was sponsored by the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, Canadian Photonics Consortium, Ontario Photonics Industry Network, and Quebec Photonic Network.
The optics.org booth, above, was the scene of another exhibit-floor reception; above visitors test their knowledge in a who's who quiz at the booth.
Above, left to right, judges: Michael Mielke (Raydiance), Wellington Chadehumbe (Triumph Venture Capital), and Marc Himel (Jenoptik Optical Systems) congratulate winners Samuel Schaefer (University of British Columbia), Yin Wang (Princeton University), and Petrus Johannes Venter (University of Pretoria) following the Optoelectronics Start-up Challenge. The winners will be sponsored by Jenoptik to attend the University of California, Davis, Entrepreneurship Academy, to learn more about how to successfully transition their ideas to the marketplace.
Beauty in glass
"Sunflower," by Christopher Ries
Artist and glass sculptor Christopher Ries showed nine pieces of his work at the Photonics West exhibition. Attendees admired his artistry, presented courtesy of SCHOTT Glass with whom he has an exclusive collaboration.
"SCHOTT has extraordinary material," said Ries, SCHOTT's "Artist in Residence. "The wherewithal of the material, along with my artistic vision, makes for a nice collaboration." View more of his work at christopherries.com.
Poster authors from the LASE and MOEMS-MEMS symposium displayed their papers and talked about their work at a packed reception Wednesday evening.
The crowd waiting to enter the exhibition halls cheered when the doors were opened this morning. A record number of exhibiting companies will show their products and systems through Thursday, and more than 150 new products will be launched.
"This show is very important to us because it's the largest optical show in the NAFTA area," said Agnes Huebscher at the SCHOTT booth as the first day winded down. Her comments were echoed by her colleague Peter Kruell. Although they had been uncertain how the show would be due to uncertain economic indicators, "We're very happy with the first day," he said. "We've seen a lot of highly qualified customers."
Newcomer to Photonics West Muneeb Khalid, president of Alazar Technologies, said he was happy to be here. "Most of my customers are exhibitors at Photonics West and they kept telling me I should exhibit here. This is my first year exhibiting, and the response has been so good the first day that I plan to increase my booth size at next year's exhibit."
Small-scale technology, big crowd at OPTO plenary
Hundreds packed into the OPTO plenaries Tuesday morning to take in the latest advances in optics at the very smallest scale. The first of three speakers, Erez Hasman (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology), above, began the session by introducing a new field. Just as spintronics is an emerging area where both the spin and charge of the electron are manipulated to create new microelectronic devices, Hasman stated that use of the photon spin to provide an extra degree of freedom in nano-optics gives way to the new field he called spinoptics. This utilization of spin effects opens up the hope that light can be controlled in all-optical nanometer-scale devices in ways that could only have been imagined before, and Hasman demonstrated a number of these device possibilities.
Connie Chang-Hasnain (University of California, Berkeley) then gave an overwhelmingly informative talk on high-contrast metastructures for integrated optics. Apologizing in advance, Chang-Hasnain admitted that she would be going very quickly to cover the many new developments that had been presented in the new SPIE conference on High-Contrast Metastructures (Conference 8270) earlier in the week.
Her research, which has influenced many of these new discoveries, began with one simple question: How can we build a better mirror? Metal is a lossy medium, and distributed Bragg reflectors are too thick and expensive. So they took a new twist on on old idea. Instead of a periodic conductor mesh with the periodicity normal to the E/M wave propagation, they investigated whether a dielectric grating could provide high reflection. They found that if the period is between being greater than the wavelength and being very much smaller than the wavelength, one can get either a broadband reflector or a high-Q resonator. This introduces a full range of high-contrast grating (HCG)-based optics.
They found that not only could a reflector work at normal incidence, it could work at shallow angles, allowing it to be applied to hollow-core waveguides (HCWs). Traditionally fiber based, HCWs could be created using HCGs in III-V materials to enable chip-based HCWs. She also showed how HCGs could be applied to create slow-light waveguides (as shown by Weiman Zhou, et al. earlier in the week), silicon-on-insulator waveguides, and how they open up an unlimited range of other new integrated optical components such as tunable VCSELs, saturable absorbers, sensors, WDM filters, phase and intensity modulators, and planar focusing optics with very high numerical apertures. Further, she showed that HCGs are amazingly manufacturable because the tolerances can be amazingly loose, suggesting that the high-volume production of HCGs could be a near-term reality.
The next talk, by David Awschalom (University of California, Santa Barbara) began with a historical photograph of Pauli and Born considering a spinning top. This provided a prelude to his discussion of spintronics.
In the past five-six years, he said, we have gone from looking at manipulating lots of particles to looking at the manipulation of single particles at room temperature. These advances have been accomplished by doing the counterintuitive - rather than concentrating on purity, he said, they've embraced defects as a basis for this new particle-level technology. In particular, they've looked at diamond doped with nitrogen as their ideal semiconductor nanostructure. Diamond is particularly attractive because it has such a high bandgap that it doesn't need to be cooled. In diamond with a nitrogen vacancy center, one can generate spin-polarized electrons by illumination and monitor the output light, thereby imaging single spins at room temperature. Further, this can be accomplished using a simple microscope objective even without applying a magnetic field.
Awschalom showed that this new revelation brings important possibilities for quantum information technology. He demonstrated how it brings the possibility of high-speed coherent control of electron spin, the possibility of a nuclear spin memory, and the possibility of nanofabrication of spins and arrays. His team also screened a number of materials to find that silicon carbide (4H-SiC) had similar properties to diamond via a couple of formerly unknown defects, allowing 4H-SiC to also be a possibility as a room-temperature quantum information material. This is advantageous, as silicon carbide is already used in high-volume manufacturing of industrial wafers, MEMS, and optoelectronics.
Newport supports students
Newport Spectra-Physics continued their on-going commitment to supporting young researchers as they travel to present what might be the first of many papers at a technical conference. Above, Newport Spectra-Physics representatives Kim Abair, Herman Chui, Sandeep Dedage, Beda Espinoza, Jim Fisher, Jay Jeong, Jim Kafka, and Keshav Kumar were on hand to recognize students awarded travel grants.
Students recieving grants included: Peristera Andreakou, Univ. of Southampton Christopher Collier, Univ. of British Columbia Ryan Denomme, Univ. of Waterloo Ali Golabchi, Northeastern University Ravi Kiran Manapuram, Univ. of Houston Justin Lo, Duke Univ. Susan McElligott-Daly, Univ. of Limerick Jacqueline Nichols, Univ. of British Columbia Victor Obadina, Alabama A&M University Cory Olsovksy, Texas A&M University Adi Sheinfeld, Tel-Aviv University Brett Smith, Univ. of Ottawa Maria Tsurkan, St. Petersburg Univ. of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics Ana V. Hanessian De la Garza, Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica Nikolay V. Petrov, St. Petersburg Univ. of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics Hanzheng Wang, Missouri Univ. of Science and Technology.
First-ever Britton Chance Award
The inaugural Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award was presented to Robert R. Alfano, City College of New York, by SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg in recognition of his pioneering work in the biomedical optics field, in addition to his outstanding track record of achievements in the development of biomedical instruments, especially supercontinuum and broadband laser sources.
The new award will be presented annually by SPIE in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high impact technologies, and particularly honors pioneering contributions to optical methods and devices that have significant promise to accelerate or have already facilitated new discoveries in biology or medicine.
Lofty venue for member reception
The Cityscape lounge at the top of the Hilton Hotel gave guests at the evening member reception a backdrop of stars above and city lights below. See more photos in the event photo gallery. Were you there?
The MOEMS-MEMS plenary session began with awards presented by Symposium Chair Harald Schenk (Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems), at left, and Symposium Cochair David Dickensheets (Montana State University), at right above, with Myun-Sik Kim (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), winner of one of two Best Paper Awards sponsored by Dyoptyka. Kim's paper was on “Axial phase measurements of light interacting with microstructures.” The other Best Paper Award went to Peter Buck for "Programmed resist sidewall profiles uising sub-resolution binary gray-scale masks for Si-photonics applications." The Best Student Paper Award was sponsored by Vuzix and went to Daniel McAdams and Daniel Cole for "Using a dwell-time increase to compensate for SLM pixelation-limited diffraction efficiency in DMHL."
Plenary talks focused on solutions to a variety of problems.
Michael Roukes of CalTech discussed the development of biological circuits that are the subject of much research. Researchers hope to use an array of nanosensors at the cell level for diagnostics and other biomedical uses. These sensors would be able to look at single protein molecules as "bits" or signalling molecules to see how cells behave in real time. Samuel Schaevitz (Lilliputian Systems) talked about his company's approach to solving battery-life issues, and Jonathan Cooper talked about solutions incorporating acoustics, optics, and electrotechnologies to meet the demands of diagnosing infectious diseases in the developing world.
Among notable papers heard on Monday, in invited paper "MIXSELs for frequency combs" (8242-01), Thomas Südmeyer, Valentin Wittwer, Selina Pekarek, M. Hoffmann, Oliver Sieber, Matthias Golling, and Ursula Keller (ETH Zurich) analyzed current methods for generating frequency combs output from lasers, such as using a Ti:Sapphire laser as a pump source to generate nonlinearities. This has the advantage of low noise, but high-dollar expense. Fiber lasers with 1 Ghz bandwidth have been demonstrated which are compact and less expensive, but suffer from noise and the need for additional amplification. New developments in diode-pumped solid-state lasers offer low noise (with their high Q cavity) and 100 W average power output. But the paper asserted that what is really on the horizon are VECSEL/MIXSELS (mode-locked integrated external cavity surface emitting lasers) which offer low noise, 50 Ghz bandwidths and picosecond pulses. These latest developments are leading to the octave spanning modal output that many desire in these devices.
In "Very high brightness diode laser" (8241-20), Stefan Heinemann and Benjamin Lewis (Fraunhofer USA) and Aleksandr Ryasnyanskiy, K. Shavitranuruk, Vadim Smirnov, Christine Spiegelberg, and Leonid Glebov (Optigrate Corp.) described a fiber-coupled high-power diode laser array fully integrated turnkey system that provides the user with 2 output options: 140 W from each of 5 output fibers with 100 micron cores or 700 W from a single 200 micron core fiber. The source is wavelength stabilized and provides a very clean fiber output spot.
In "Beam combination of kilowatt fiber amplifiers (8237-01), Joshua Rothenberg and Gregory Goodno (Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems) talked about multiple approaches to beam combining the output of 1D and 2D arrays of high power fiber lasers, including spectral and coherent combining. All require tight control on positional tolerances. New diffractive optical elements with high-reflective and high-power tolerant coatings (developed at Livermore) are enabling these techniques. These methods are providing KW output powers with 3000 Ghz Bandwidths. However thermal mode instabilities in these KW output systems still remains a leading issue, the authors said.
Networking, Photonics West style
Conference coffee breaks provide the opportunity to talk about ongoing projects and new ideas from the conference rooms.
A Twitter feed was part of the iZone in the North Hall foyer, along with iPads loaded with the SPIE conference app and exhibitor locator information.
Nothing beats a face-to-face encounter for networking, and Moscone Center provided plenty of opportunity for the photonics community to meet up in person.
SPIE Fellows of the Society gathered for a luncheon to recognize the new Fellow inductees. Aydogan Ozcan (University of California Los Angeles) was the guest speaker. Ozcan's talk, "Photonics-based telemedicine technologies toward smart global health systems," described imaging and detection architectures that utilize mobile phone-based systems to address the immediate needs and requirements of telemedicine for global health problems.
New Fellows recognized were: Christopher Barty, Lawrence Livermore National Lab Julie Bentley, University of Rochester Sandra Biedron , Colorado State University Don Boroson. MIT Lincoln Lab Gerard Coté of Texas A&M University Alexei Glebov, OptiGrate Corporation Michael Hamblin, Wellman Center for Photomedicine Majeed Hayat, University of New Mexico Mark Hersam, Northwestern University Helena Jelínková, Czech Technical University in Prague Gerd Keiser, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Karl Klein, University of Applied Sciences in Giessen-Friedberg Hong Jin Kong, KAIST James Leary, Purdue University Xingde Li, Johns Hopkins University Jose López-Higuera, University of Cantabria Laura Marcu, University of California Davis Roberto Morandotti, National Institute of Scientific Research Lalgudi Natarajan, SAIC Rüdiger Paschotta, RP Photonics Consulting Ammasi Periasamy, University of Virginia Alberto Piqué, Naval Research Lab Adrian Podoleanu, University of Kent Jürgen Popp, Institute for Photonics Technology Reinhart Poprawe, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology Graham Reed, University of Surrey Angela Seddon, University of Nottingham Devanand Shenoy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Koji Sugioka, RIKEN Takunori Taira, Institute for Molecular Science Richard Youngworth, Riyo LLC Anatoly Zayats, King's College London.
Seventeen aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in the first of two Startup Challenges being held this week at SPIE Photonics West under the sponsorship of Jenoptik. Judges (from left above) Wellington Chadehumbe (Triumph Venture Capital), Jay Kumler (Jenoptik Optical Systems), Adam Wax (Duke University), Jason Eichenholz (Ocean Optics) chose winners Carlos Serpa (first place), Babak Shadgan (second place), Scott Rowe (tie, 3rd place), and Daniel Gareau (tie, 3rd place). Winners will be sponsored to attend the Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy at the University of California, Davis.
Winning projects included new methods for drug delivery, macular pigment measurement, cancer detection, and noninvasive bladder dysfunction diagnosis.
Calling all geek girls
Leslie Fishlock, founder and CEO of Geek Girl Camp, was the guest speaker at this year's Women in Optics reception. Fishlock's presentation, "Empowering Women in Tech: Mentor, Give Back, Pay it Forward," was an engaging look at how to educate and empower every girl and woman at every age level, on every skill level, and at every income level. An unexpected power loss at the hotel didn't stop her enthusiasm, nor did it stop the audience questions.
Indoor+outdoor cluster reception
SPIE hosted a reception to welcome representatives from photonics clusters in Spain, France, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, New York and elsewhere, as well as people exploring the prospects for starting a cluster. Peter Hallett, SPIE Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, noted that each group has experience and information that may be highly valuable to another who is at a different stage in the process, and pointed out that a networking session like this one is a great opportunity to learn from each other. In spite of a hotel power outage that forced the meeting onto the sidewalk outside, the reception reconvened after a short delay and the networking continued.
'Art of Optics'
Photonics-inspired art including 3D video (eyewear provided) and graphic images and effects provided the backdrop for a well-attended welcome reception at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Were you there? See more photos in the event gallery.
Biomedical optics technologies with potential to vastly improve physicians' tools in the clinic and in field were described in a number of talks throughout the day.
In "Lensless microscopy and sensing on a chip" (8212-19), Aydogan Ozcan (University of California, Los Angeles) described his lab's development of a portable microscope that uses a cell phone as a wireless platform for transmitting medical data, via a holographic reconstruction imaging method. A partially coherent light source is created by an opening in a mask at the illumination level, and the object is shadowed onto the CMOS imaging array along with an interference pattern from the illumination. A phase reconstruction algorithm calculates the apparent object shape and form from this pattern. The method is capable of providing 1-2 micron resolution over a wide field provided by the CMOS imaging array. Variations of the method include tomographic imaging by utilizing an array of LED light sources that illuminate the object from multiple angles.
In "Nanoscopy with focused light" (8228-23), Stefan Hell (Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie) described applications for stimulated emission depletion microscopy, or STED. The method virtually eliminates the diffraction barrier in microscopic imaging and provides molecule-scale resolution with visible light. Fast STED imaging can be realized thru paralleled source beams. Applications include imaging heart cells, imaging changes in live (mouse brain) neurons over time, and imaging viral infections such as HIV envelope proteins. The nanoscopy of single spins in a magnetic field provide accurate measurement of magnetic field values associated with the Zeeman splitting of energy levels. The super-resolution technique is also being extended to writing structures below the diffraction limit.
BiOS 'Student Lunch with the Experts'
A crowd of over 140 people gathered for the popular BiOS Student Lunch with the Experts. SPIE President Eustace Dereniak, University of Arizona, advised students to take this opportunity to network with professionals, and make key connections throughout the week.
SPIE Scholarship winners recognized included: Tony Akl, Texas A&M University Kathy Beaudette, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal Giovanni Milione, City College of New York Ryan Shelton, Texas A&M University Serhat Tozburun, Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte Jason Tucker-Schwartz, Vanderbilt University Katheryne Wilson, University of Texas at Austin
Four of 13 winners of the Blue Ocean grants awarded by Ocean Optics late last year talked business to optics students and early career professionals at a Sunday session on exploring technical entrepreneurship.
Ocean Optics awarded the $10,000 grants as part of its open-innovation, or crowd-sourcing, initiative. Ocean Optics CTO Jason Eichenholz said the return on investment for the company was "invaluable" because Ocean Optics wants photonics innovators to succeed in the marketplace. The awards are for photonics ideas that have the potential to "change the world for the better."
Bill Parker of Creative Microsystems, Nadia Pervez of Chromation Partners, Dominic Murphy of Fusion Photonics, and Scott Rowe of Ocular Prognostics (from left, above) shared their insights into the commercialization process and explained how the grant funding and other support was helping them transfer their ideas into products and technologies that they, too, hoped would change the world.
Each panelist agreed that although a $10,000 grant wasn't enough to start a company, the benefits of partnering with Ocean Optics was a significant push in helping them realize their goal to commercialize their ideas.
Meet the authors
A jam-packed poster reception at the end of the day provided opportunity to talk in depth with a room full of authors, in the first of the week's three such evening events.
Saturday 21 January
It's on! SPIE Photonics West opens strong
The first of the week's attendees registered early Saturday morning, as BiOS technical conferences and the first of the week's 60+ professional development courses and workshops began. Photonics West 2012 has already broken records with its largest exhibition ever.
Among talks on opening day, Guillermo Tearney (Massachusetts General Hospital), described in "Cardiovascular pathology" (8207E-78) how applications of cardiovascular imaging to pathology are changing the views of the medical community on the cause and effect relation between plaque and thrombosis that may lead to coronary events. New findings indicate that some macrophages are not bad but in fact lead to tissue regeneration. A multimodality system combining OCT and near-IR fluorescence imaging (NIRF) using a dual core fiber was developed MGH in studies on this relationship. Another study, using microOCT was undertaken to better understand the role of cholesterol crystals in their interaction with the fibrous cap in plaque buildup.
In "Effects of intraocular pressure on retinal and optic nerve head blood flow in rats determined by optical coherence tomography/optical microangiography," (8209-04) Zhongwei Zhi (University of Washington) reported on work there and at the Oregon Health Sciences University in which doppler optical microangiography (DOMAG), a variation of spectral domain OCT, was used to study the effects of intraocular pressure on the retina. The optical system was used to monitor blood flow to the optical nerve head and confirm blood vessel diameter changes as pressure was increased.
Busy BiOS Expo
The two-day BiOS Expo floor opened this afternoon with a good crowd of visitors to booths of its 217 exhibiting companies -- an increase of more than 15% over last year. New products and applications on display include an ultrafast fiber lasers for molecular research and clinical applications, optical switches for biomedical applications, and an LED illuminator for fluorescence microscopy.
New this year at the BiOS Expo are afternoon poster sessions, with authors present to discuss their work. The sessions are held both Saturday and Sunday and complement evening BiOS poster receptions on Sunday and Monday.
Approximately 40 new products are being launched at the BiOS Expo and well-attended product demonstrations are being held throughout the day (below, a crowd gathers for a Saturday afternoon demo).
Solving problems: BiOS Hot Topics
An overflow crowd filled the BiOS Hot Topics room again this year to hear brief updates on nine important new developments in biomedical optics technology. A theme among all the talks was collaborations among academia, government, and industry to help translate the huge potential in biomedical engineering technology into actual tools in the hands of clinicians.
In the words of Rox Anderson (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University), cochair with Jim Fujimoto (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) of the BiOS symposium (both pictured below), the BiOS Hot Topics session is a room full of problem solvers in a world full of problems.
The fast-moving session was moderated by Sergio Fantini (Tufts University) and included talks from:
Daniel Palanker (Stanford University) presented a comparison of several retinal implant systems and described his group's development of a retinal prosthesis that uses photovoltaic stimulation to restore sight to the blind. The first approach uses an external camera that sends digital signals wirelessly to an electrical array implant on the retina. The implant has 60 electrodes connected to the inner retinal layer which stimulate ganglion cells which the brain interprets as an image. This method provides sufficient resolution for the patient to be able to read large fonts. The second approach uses a sub-retinal photocell implant with 1,500 pixels that is stimulated normally, way with light through the eye, and provides electrical signals to the ganglion layer much as in a normal eye. This also provides sufficient resolution for reading. Palanker's work involves the third approach which also uses a photocell sub-retinal implant along with an external projection system to relay images from an outside camera using near-IR light to the photocell array. The photocell array is made from a thinned silicon wafer that is flexible enough to match the contour of the eye. The surgical implant procedure is a simple procedure and provides the patient with a near normal gaze angle.
Brian Wong (Beckman Laser Institute) noted that sleep apnea and other airway obstruction issues affect a significant number of people. The problem becomes particularly acute when in a neonatal infant, whose particularly tiny airways are easily damaged and can be blocked by resulting scarring. An OCT system utilizing a microcatheter can provide detailed anatomical data which is used to construct a 3D model of the airway and allow for flow dynamic analysis to identify obstructions and provide guidance to reconstruction surgery.
Adam Wax (Duke University) described a method for early cancer detection using coherence imaging. The standard surgical biopsy for determining the progress of a disease such as cancer suffers from poor discrimination, a long lead time, and variability in the diagnosis. Wax described an optical biopsy technique using angle-resolved low-coherence interferometry to measure the size of cells, and compared the method to traditional biopsy results. A significant increase in size appears to be a very specific indicator of disease progress. There is need for increased depth penetration and resolution which may be provided by a combined ultrasound technique.
Xingde Li (Johns Hopkins University) presented a talk on scanning fiber optic nonlinear endomicroscopy, a 2D scanning fiber endoscope implementation of nonlinear microscopy. A double-clad fiber was developed to provide the source for two-photon imaging to the target as well as signal collection. A PZT tube oscillates the fiber tip to provide scanning and a multi element grin lens focuses the light at the distal end of the endoscope. The system provides subcellular resolution with unstained samples.
Eva Sevick (University of Texas Health Center) presented research in lymphatic flow in order to develop drugs to treat lymphatic diseases, and included in her talk the first-ever video of lymphatic flow in humans. Imaging through several centimeters of tissue requires near-IR light for penetration depth. An optical imaging system using a matching NIR fluorophore and night-vision technology was developed to create movies of lymph flow. A patient sample set was identified as predisposed to lymphangiogenesis and a gene sequencing study led to determining the gene associated with this condition. Knock-out animals injected with the gene confirmed the finding.
Stephen Boppart (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) spoke on new optical sources to help with early and automated identification of cancerous tissue, describing several techniques for image-guided breast cancer surgery. A photonic crystal fiber source provides a broad spectrum allowing cellular resolution using an OCT contrast agent for imaging. A nonlinear interferometric vibration spectroscopy imaging system (NIVI), a form of interferometric CARS, can identify molecular changes in tissue without the use of a contrast agent.
Vasilis Ntziachristos (Technical Universität Munich) presented on advances in fluorescence and opto-acoustic imaging, describing new performance levels in microscopic imaging that have reached by combining opto-acoustic tomography with multispectral imaging. Multispectral imaging provides the specificity needed for biomarker identification and detection. Opto-acoustic tomography shows the surrounding tissue and location of the target probes in the tissue.
Elizabeth Hillman (Columbia University) told how two-photon microscopy and laser-scanning intersecting plane tomography (L-SIPT) are used to image blood flow in the brain and other neural activity in 3D during surgeries. She noted that in-vivo optical microscopic techniques are opening new fields of study of the brain. Two-photon imaging of calcium ions provides images of neurons firing and signaling. Light sheet illumination was developed to reduce the scan time with the technique of laser scanning intersecting plane tomography. Combinations of techniques are being used for functional blood flow imaging in the brain. These techniques are also enabling the field of optogenetics which studies how light can be used to both stimulate and inhibit neuron activity.
Seok Hyun Yun (Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital) told how a major limit to optical imaging techniques in living tissue -- penetration depth -- is being addressed. One possible approach to overcome this limit is to provide a light source within the tissue being imaged. The work described in this talk shows how a single human cell injected with GFP can be used as a gain medium for lasing action. The cell was placed between external mirrors and optically pumped. The output light from the cell shows laser characteristics of threshold and directional modal light distribution.