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SPIE Photonics Europe Event News, Photos, and Video

SPIE Photonics Europe logo GIF

16-19 April 2012
Square Brussels Meeting Centre, Brussels, Belgium


Francis Berghmans at SPIE Photonics Europe JPEG
General chair Francis Berghmans welcomes attendees to SPIE Photonics Europe, against a backdrop of a photo of the tower of the Brussels Town Hall.


Daily reports:

Thursday 19 April

Wednesday 18 April

Tuesday 17 April

Monday 16 April

Event photo gallery.

Video presentations from the Photonics Europe Industry Perspectives Programme:


View presentations by Hot Topics speakers:

Thursday 19 April


Better and better!

With total attendance at SPIE Photonics Europe topping out at 2,030, organizers were extremely pleased to see that technical attendance grew by 6% in 2012. Attendee comments praising the quality of technical talks -- the hot topics speakers in particular -- echoed the assessment nof General Chair Francis Berghmans. "The quality is growing, and we will make sure that 2014 stays on the same path," he said.


Wedesday 18 April


Prize-winning Photonics Innovation

A low-cost LED-based device that improves wound healing processes by the use of light, and a noninvasive device for monitoring blood vessels won top honors in the Photonics Innovation Village competition.

Prizes provided by the Brussels Capital Region and SPIE were awarded for five technical projects in individual and multilateral categories, along with a special-category prize for a project to provide science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education materials to secondary school students.

The completion was organized by B-PHOT (Brussels Photonics Team, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) with the support of SPIE.

Light4Tech, associated with Photonics4Life, won in the multilateral category with their project "Low-cost and easy to use photohaemostatic device based on LED technology."

Runner-up in the multilateral category was EPFL Lausanne, associated with MEGAFRAME and SPADnet, for the project "CMOS single-photon time-correlated SPAD arrays for biomedical applications."

Winner in the individual category was Humboldt University and its spin-off company Delta Vision, with "Table-top setup for time-resolved detection of singlet oxygen luminescence in solutions and cell suspensions."

Two runner-up prizes were awarded in the individual category:

  • Resolution Spectra Systems, a spin-off of Joseph Fourier University, for the project "ZOOM Spectre: compact high-resolution high-rate spectrometer."
  • Bilkent University, affiliated with NanoDev Scientific, for "MoBiSense: a truly low-cost and disposable mobile molecular sensor as a multipurpose sensing platform."

EYEST (Excite Youth for Engineering Science and Technology) won a special prize for its Photonics Explorer program to create novel intra-curricular optics kits for secondary schools.

A total of 18 projects were entered, representing 12 countries.

See winners' photos in the event photo gallery.


Solving problems, creating solutions
Francesco Testa JPEG
Topics such as silicon photonics drew large and engaged audiences in the conference rooms. Above, Francesco Testa (Ericsson Telecommunicazion) and others continued discussion into the break. Testa spoke Wednesday morning on "Opportunities and challenges of silicon photonics in optical networks."

In the metamaterials conference, for example, Jeong-Weon Wu of Ewha Womans University gave a compelling keynote about controlling resonance characteristics of metamaterials in the THz and optical frequency range.

He showed a number of superlattice metamaterial structures that his group had developed and demonstrated that polarization control of coherent coupling in them can be accomplished with Fano resonance -- a resonant scattering phenomenon that can produce an asymmetric lineshape.

Wu noted the advantages of chiral metamaterials, introducing a twisted-H model he has investigated and showing examples of fabricated chiral metamaterials.  He then closed his talk by demonstrating femtosecond-induced magnetism in chiral metamaterials.


'Stay in science'
Women in Optics JPEG
Participants at the well-attended Women in Optics luncheon had a chance to share perspectives, insights, and success stories, following a welcome by SPIE Member Anna Mignani (Istituto di Fisica Applicata Nello Carrara ) and SPIE President Eustace Dereniak (College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona).

SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg (at right above) noted that some perceptual barriers to acceptance for work authored by women still exist, and urged the group to "stay in science" and to encourage others to do the same.

See more photos in the event photo gallery.


Tuesday 17 April


To meet the terawatt challenge

The photonics for solar energy conference at SPIE Photonics Europe kicked off on Tuesday morning with an invited talk by professor Lucio Andreani of the University of Pavia. His talk, "Light trapping in thin film solar cells: towards the Lambertian limit," was motivated by the steep terawatt challenge that photovoltaics need to meet to give an appreciable contribution to the world's energy needs. With world consumption currently at 19,000 TWh/year, several terawatts of installed power will be necessary to make any real impact.

Andreani showed that patterning with photonic crystals can substantially improve the efficiency of thin film cells compared to the same structures without photonic crystals, but with AR coatings.

Through his experiments, his group found that patterning 2D photonic structures gave better performance than 1D ones. They also found that an increase in absorption was determined by improved antireflection properties, coupling to quasi-guided modes, and diffraction inside the cell, proving that photonic light trapping and anti-reflection are intimately related.

While their 2D patterning showed successful movement toward the Lambertian limit, there is still much room for improvement suggesting that far more complex fabrication techniques are needed.


Metamaterials pioneer

Tuesday afternoon, one of the pioneers of metamaterials over the past decade, Vladimir Shalaev of Purdue University, gave a keynote that presented an overview of metamaterials' history and new insight into Snell's 400-year-old law of refraction.

He began by describing the initial generation of negative refractive index materials, followed by both active and loss-free metamaterials. Looking beyond the typical materials of gold and silver, Shalaev described the Boltasseva group's work on alternative plasmonic materials and showed a roadmap to move beyond metals to what he termed "less metals," such as silicides.

So, he said, while gold and silver do have advantages with some applications, other materials, such as transparent conductive oxides (TCOs), could certainly be the metamaterial of choice for other applications. What is especially important, he said, is that the material be compatible with the semiconductor industry.

Shalaev then showed how Capasso's group generalized Snell's Law using the principle of least action and Fermat's principle (of least time) and described reflection and refraction in terms of conservation of momentum. He closed with the thought that the success of the metamaterials field depends deeply on the ability to generate these new materials.


Hot topics

Demitri Psaltis (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) led off the week's second round of hot topics talks before a full audience in the Gold Hall.

Psaltis described how microfluidics and optics offer promising possibilities for solar applications in efficient green energy as well as water purification and other applications. He said that the technique -- inspired by nature -- demonstrates how "a small system can help shrink a large carbon footprint."

Lihong Wang (Washington University in St. Louis) introduced new results from his lab's work in a noninvasive multimodal biomedical 3D imaging system employing acoustical and light-based imaging. With photoacoustic techniques, his group has been able to generate detailed information about blood oxygen content and other tissues and fluids as much as 7mm under the skin surface.


Exhibition as launchpad
SPIE Photonics Europe exhibition JPEG

Among new product launches on the exhibitor floor, Veeco Instruments introduced its SPECTOR-HTTM Ion Beam Deposition (IBD) System for creating thin film coatings for a variety of optical applications, including precision optics, lasers, life sciences, biomedical devices, and telecommunications.

Ghent University and nanoelectronics research center Imec of Leuven announced the launch of their IPKISS software framework as an open-source software platform. Originally conceived in as a programmable generator of mask layouts written in Python, it has evolved to become a generic and modular software framework for the parametric design of photonic components and complex photonic integrated circuits.


Recognizing excellence

Photonics Europe symposium general chair Francis Berghmans announced Best Student Paper Awards for several conferences on behalf of SPIE, to recognize excellence in research as well as presentation. Winners included:

  • Aristi Christofi, University of Athens
  • Odysseas Tsilipakos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Albertas ┼Żukauskas, Vilnius University
  • Fabian Duerr, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Papichaya Chaisakul, Institut d'Électronique Fondamentale
  • Andreas Süss, Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikroelektronische Schaltungen und Systeme
  • Saeedeh Jahanmirinejad, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
  • Natalia Trunina, N.G. Chernyshevsky Saratov State University
  • Evaldas Stankevicius Institute of Physics.

See winners' photos in the event photo gallery.


Buzz of innovation

Photonics Innovation Village JPEG

Seventeen competitors are vying for top honors to be announced tomorrow in the Photonics Innovation Village challenge. Above, General Chair Peter Hartmann takes his turn at assessing projects in the exhibiton hall.

Designed to support research in new applications for product development and showcase top research programmes, the competition includes entries in the areas of green energy, medical sensors, 3D measurement, and much more.


Honoring outstanding careers

Paolo De Natale and Eustace Dereniak JPEG

Paolo De Natale (at left) of the Istituto Nazionale di Ottica is one of 75 new Fellows of the Society named this year. He received his plaque from SPIE President Eustace Dereniak (right) at a luncheon attended by more than three dozen Fellows in the aptly named Panoramic Hall (below).

Panoramic Hall JPEG


A royal welcome
welcome reception JPEG

The Royal Museums of Art and History provided an elegant venue for a reception enjoyed by Photonics Europe attendees.

See more photos in the event photo gallery.


Monday 16 April



SPIE Photonics Europe welcome JPEG

General Chair Francis Berghmans (above) joked that this week's relatively cool temperatures in Brussels were a trade-off for the volcanic ash cloud that hampered air travel after the last iteration of SPIE Photonics Europe. In any case, organizers have been happy with attendance as the conference week gets underway. 

Nearly 450 conference attendees packed into the Gold Hall to hear the first of the week's Hot Topics talks, and to witness presentation of SPIE awards to two outstanding peers.

SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg (Lund University Hospital) presented SPIE Fellow Hans Tiziani (retired from Universität Stuttgart) with the 2012 Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Engineering, reconizing his lifetime achievements in optical metrology and optical testing, pioneering contributions to the field of high-precision microscopic surface and 3-D measurement and multisensor techniques, and advances in heterodyne temporal speckle-pattern interferometry. 

Andrea Alù (University of Texas at Austin) was presented with the 2012 the Early Career Achievement Award by Svanberg on behalf of the society. The award recognizes Alù's pioneering contributions to optical metamaterials and plasmonic phenomena.

Berghmans, Ronan Burgess (European Commission), Jürgen Popp (Insitute of Photonics Technology, Jena), and Peter Hartmann (Schott) are General Chairs of SPIE Photonics Europe 2012.


Challenges to meet -- with photonics

SPIE Photonics Europe hot topics JPEG

An overflow crowd filled the upper gallery (above) and main floor of the Gold Hall to hear the first of three Hot Topics sessions scheduled this week.

Thierry Van der Pyl (Information Society and Media Directorate-General of the European Commission) framed the opportunities for photonics presented by the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research. Resources for the initiatve are quite substantial, he noted: 80 billion € over the next 7 years, representing 8 percent of the total EU budget.

Van der Pyl identified several major areas of opportunity and sketched some of the challenges to be solved:

  • optical broadband, with the challenges of meeting capacity while serving more people throughout the world, and developing greener practices
  • solid-state lighting, with OLEDs that offer such capabilities as very large surfaces delivering light on flexible substrates at the front of the next technology wave
  • lasers - an area in which Europe is clearly the leader  and in which development results in jobs - moving into mass customization for lightweight structures, as well as new, more efficient sources
  • sensors, for safety and security of people, goods, and the physical environment
  • photonic integrated circuits and nanophotonics, for greater efficiency.

He noted that the intention behind Horizon 2020 is to combine research and innovation, stressing that innovation will apply to both technology and business as new financing models, access to capital, open-innovation practices will be needed. The initiative's agenda is will drive research in three directions, with agendas for policy needs, industrial objectives, and scientific advance. 

Following Van der Pyl, John Dudley (Université de Franche-Comté) gave an overview of laser technology as well as an update on new work using technology such as the optical frequency comb, with potential for such varied applications at noninvasive health screening using a handheld device and detecting Earth-size planets that are light years away. 

Next up, Kyriacos Kalli (Cyprus University of Technology) spoke on next-generation fibre sensors, describing applications such as the use of magnetic particles in flexible polymer fibres in esophageal sensors. 

Andreas Tünnermann (Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena) concluded the day's Hot Topics session with a look at advances in high-power fibre laser systems, in which novel beam combination techniques allow for increased power scaling.


Is it magic?

More than 1,400 papers will be presented in the 18 conferences running throughout the week. Among papers presented today, science met magic in the keynote talk given by

Ekmel Ozbay (Bilkent University), who showed a number of ways metamaterials allow Maxwell to meet Harry Potter in multiple designer materials for novel applications.

He began by explaining the achievement of negative refractive index and subwavelength imaging with metamaterials. He then showed how a real invisibility cloak could be possible using a ground-plane cloak in what he called the "hiding under the carpet" technique. He explored chirality's effect in metamaterials, showing his teams work in both microwave and optical frequencies, and how his team created a blue-shift tunable metamaterial leveraging chirality.

Ozbay concluded with demonstrations of metamaterials that enhance transmission and also perfectly absorb at IR frequencies, and he showed metamaterials' potential in sensing. With metamaterials, his team enhanced sensor speed by a factor of 35 and sensitivity by a factor of 100, improvements that will aid in the development of biosensors.


Exhibition opens

SPIE Photonics Europe exhibit JPEG

A three-day exhibition opened Monday afternoon (above), providing exhibitors with the opportunitiy to show their latest technology.


Student focus
Student lunch with experts JPEG

A variety of activities will provide students wtih valuable networking and professional development opportunities throughout the week. Above, students and experts met for an informal lunch; below, SPIE Student Chapter members provided information about their latest projects in a special section in the exhibition. This year's expanded program for students also includes a full-day leaqdership workshop, a professional development seminar series, Best Student Paper Awards on Tuesday, and organized networking events out on the town.

Student Chapter Exhibition JPEG


Meet the authors
Poster session JPEG

The first of the week's two posters receptions (above) drew a large crowd to the exhibit hall.

See more photos in the event photo gallery.