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SPIE Optics and Photonics 2016

Browse below to review the week's news —
and click through the photo galleries:


Early Career and Student Events

Optics Outreach Games

Welcome Reception

Annual Awards Banquet

View the plenary talks
in multimedia:

SPIE Optics + Photonics plenary talks


SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 exhibition

Good leads? Yes, say exhibitors:
"I love this show!"
Read more below -- jump from this link
to the exhibition photo gallery

Join the conversation: #OpticsPhotonics

Twitter @SPIEtweets Instagram @SPIEphotonics Facebook SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics LinkedIn SPIE Optics + Photonics Showcase Page


The 'soul of the group': on leadership

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop
Welcome to San Diego! The sun came out just in time for the approximately 240
student leaders attending Saturday's leadership workshop to enjoy lunch
on the Marriott's Coronado Terrace. (above, Joey Cobbs Photography)
SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop


What makes a good leader ... and what characterizes a bad one?

Students attending the leadership workshop worked in teams to provide insightful answers to those questions Saturday morning, and illustrated their answers for sharing (see a few representatives below). While it "takes two," as one team noted, the leader is "the soul of the group," another asserted. Reasonableness, open communication, good listening, passion, and a positive "we can do it!" attitude are appreciated ... selfish rulers who take all of the credit and none of the blame? Not so much.

In wrapping up the morning session, Jean-luc Doumont of Principae, facilitator of the all-day workshop, provided an excellent example of the effectiveness of multilevel communication engaging reason, emotion, altruism, and tangible example: a presentation on eating insects that was so persuasive that at the end, he himself sampled an insect dish for the first time.

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

"encourages people toward a common goal"
Milena Nikolic, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

"respectful, with realistic vision"
Michael J. Williams, Delaware State University
SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

"balances strengths and weaknesses"
Kaitlyn Williams, University of Arizona
SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

"it takes two"
Gle Leung, University of Michigan
Robert Lieberman at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

SPIE President Robert Lieberman enjoyed
lunch with student leaders after
welcoming everyone to San Diego
with a prediction for sunny skies.
(Joey Cobbs Photography)
Spot the Dot at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 student leadership workshop

An #SPIEselfie contest on Instagram is
drawing interest -- find the dots and
win! See @SPIEphotonics on
Instagram for info.
(Joey Cobbs Photography)


A special tribute to Naoya (Nagy) Ogata

Special Tribute to Naoya (Nagy) Ogata: Pioneer of the Use of Salmon-Based DNA for Photonics and Electronics

The Nanobiosystems: Processing, Characterization, and Applications IX conference presented a special tribute to Naoya (Nagy) Ogata. Ogata, who passed away in December of last year, was one of the original organizers of the conference and served on the Program Committee from its inception.

"A top researcher and mentor, all who knew him and collaborated with him, benefited from his encouragement and generosity," said James Grote from the Airforce Research Lab, conference program committee member, and friend of Ogata. "He was a caring and extraordinary scientist who left a great legacy."

SPIE President Robert Lieberman was on hand to offer words of condolence and support for the conference.

In memoriam: Naoya Ogata, pioneered use of salmon DNA for photonics


Optical nanotransformers

Paras Prasad at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Paras Prasad

Treating diseases in the human body is incredibly difficult. Certain cancers may even be inoperable. Opening plenary speaker Paras Prasad of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics, and Biophotonics aims to bring treatment directly to the source of the disease using light.

Inspired early on by Richard Fleischer's movie Fantastic Voyage (1966), Prasad imagined sending something tiny into the human blood stream to specifically target disease. He turned science fiction into reality with nanomedicine.

Nanomedicine uses multilayered nanotransducers, in which the first layer absorbs a particular wavelength of light, and the next converts this absorbed energy to a higher or lower wavelength, which is then re-radiated.

In this way, low-energy light such as infrared is sent to a particular location in the body, then changed to a different, more useful high-energy visible light, which is easily and readily absorbed by nearby cells. The targeted cells are then destroyed, leading to an effective and potentially less dangerous way to treat cancer.

Read more about Prasad's talk in the Photonics for a Better World blog post.


Zoom lenses on the next Mars Rover

Melissa Rice at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Melissa Rice

Remarkable images from Mars via the Curiosity Rover and a preview of cameras being designed for the next Mars Rover mission were shared by Melissa Rice in Sunday's second plenary talk.

A professor in geology and physics and astronomy at Western Washington University, Rice is one of the team of scientists who drive the Mars Curiosity Rover for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

Rice showed images colorized for natural vision as well as for mineral content -- including one taken by the Opportunity Rover a few days earlier -- that hold clues to Mars as being a place of flowing streams a few billion years ago. Further analysis "may show whether there was enough water, energy, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen: the nutrients for life," Rice said.

In addition to a new zoom feature, the array of cameras on the next Rover will have improved multispectral imaging capability that will allow observation of Mars' surface and atmosphere in wavelengths of 400 to 1,000 nm, Rice said.

The next Rover, due for launch in 2020, will feature double camera heads and provide stereo photos in wide angle. It will be the first mission to work with a goal of collecting samples. The sampling location will be debated at a conference by NASA in Monrovia, California, next February, Rice said.


Biological inspiration for new robotics

Michael Tolley at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Michael Tolley

Robots currently can be programmed in very structured and controlled environments, such as factories. Michael Tolley of the University of California in San Diego told the plenary audience of his lab's goal to create smart robots capable of working in uncontrolled environments, such as search-and-rescue missions or inhospitable locations.

Drawing inspiration from nature, Tolley creates robots capable of folding, gripping, or jumping — gently and carefully enough to, for example, bring a human to safety from a dangerous situation.

In one example, Tolley used the model of a seed pod that unfolds and releases seeds only when the humidity is right. He built an ant-inspired gripper that starts as a 2D piece of layered plastic and is folded when heat is added into a robot capable of such tasks as moving chess pieces. Adding local heating to the structure allows for sequential folding for self-folding structures.

Inspired by the capability of the octopus to squeeze through small spaces, Tolley built a soft-bodied robot that tolerates heat, water, and getting run over, while remaining flexible and capable of crawling using inflatable pneumatic tubes. Such a robot may one day rescue earthquake victims.

With 3D printing, robots with a gradient in stiffness can easily be made, giving the robot a tough top layer slowly transitioning to a flexible, soft bottom, enabling a jumping robot that can land without breaking.

Tolley envisions future applications with stretchable sensors or electronics, perhaps applied as stretchable photovoltaics powering a soft-bodied robot.


The Optics Outreach Games

Optics Outreach Games - First place: Washington University of St. Louis

First place winner: Arefeh Sherafati, left, from Washington University in St. Louis demonstrates her "Lego Microscope" to Ali Khounsary, Illinois Institute of Technology.

Students, teachers, mentors, and SPIE leadership enjoyed refreshments and networking while viewing optics and photonics demonstrations from student chapters in the ever-popular Optics Outreach Games. Students showcased their best outreach efforts against other chapters from around the globe.

SPIE President Robert Lieberman, wearing a Brazilian football jersey from the recently-completed Summer Olympics, which he attended, presented the awards to third-place winner Texas A&M, for "Turmeric Trials: household fluorescence to describe biomedical sensing”; second-place winner Montana State University, for "How do 3D movies work"; first-place winner Washington University of St. Louis for "Lego microscope"; and the People's Choice award to Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica for "Mirror, mirror on the wall."

Learn more about the Optics Outreach Games at

View more photos from the Optics Outreach Games here

Washington University of St. Louis

First place: Washington University in St. Louis
Texas A&M

Second place: Texas A&M
Montana State University

Third place: Montana State University
Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica

People's Choice: Instituto Nacional de
Astophysica Optica y Electronica


Starting with networking: Early Career Pros

Early career professionals began the conference week with a well-attended informal breakfast buffet and network building with SPIE leadership and peers. Among those present were SPIE Future Leaders Committee members Clément Fallet (Parrot Drones SA), Joseph Herzog (University of Arkansas) , and Christina Willis (Fibertek, Inc.); Board of Directors members Anna Mignani (Istituto di Fisica Applicata "Nello Carrara", CNR), Keith Lewis (Sciovis, Ltd.), and Joe Howard of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center): and SPIE President Robert Lieberman (Lumoptix LLC).

Early Career Professionals breakfast Early Career Professionals breakfast
Early Career Professionals breakfast Early Career Professionals breakfast


Golden avenues in plasmonics

Harald Giessen at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Harald Giessen

In the field of nanoplasmonics, graphene seems to be the long-awaited golden child capable of many amazing feats. As was demonstrated in the nanoscience and engineering plenary sessions, there are a variety of materials with many of the same abilities of graphene but with added benefits.

First, Harald Giessen of the University of Stuttgart displayed a novel technique to create gold "crystals." The gold crystals are atomically thin and flat, like graphene. The gold crystals are used to enhance signals in molecular spectroscopy. As the crystals get thinner, the surface plasmons interact even more, leading to interesting effects.

Plasmons can tunnel from one side of the crystal to the other side; a grating can be made to give the plasmons angular momentum. Giessen hopes to use the rotating plasmons to drive nano-pumps, sense chirality, or rotate Bose-Einstein condensates.


Fascinating metasurfaces

Andrea Alu at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Andrea Alù

Next, Andrea Alù of the University of Texas at Austin discussed a plethora of exciting applications challenging how conventional optics function.

Current reflectors have difficulty reflecting all wavelengths of light and require a small angle of incidence to maximize reflectance. Alù created a reflector capable of steering a beam by capitalizing on magnetic resonances. The reflector is made up of little resonator "pixels"; each pixel is a rotatable ring. When light impinges on the resonator pixel, it is redirected based on the rotation of the pixel. A gradient in rotation across the reflector guides the incoming light across a wide band of incident angles.

Another notable application Alù highlighted is an antenna capable of emitting a signal without receiving any signals, or vice versa. Most antennas suffer from "self-listening," which happens when an antenna emits a signal and part of the signal bounces back into the antenna. By purposefully creating a leaky antenna (one that lets out signal where it should not) and modulating the leaks with a sinusoidal voltage, the signal is permitted to only travel in one direction.


Emerging materials for nanophotonics and plasmonics

Alexandra Boltasseva at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Alexandra Boltasseva

Alexandra Boltasseva of Purdue University concluded the nanoplasmonics session with a discussion of alternative materials for plasmonics and their favorable properties.

Besides graphene, typical materials utilized are gold and silver, which have several drawbacks: they are not tunable or tailorable, they are soft, and they are expensive. Desired traits are a tunable optical response with high temperature stability.

Complex oxides, such as doped zinc oxide or vanadium oxide, can be transparent in the visible region. For doped zinc oxide, this tunability may be controlled using geometry. Transparent conducting oxides give dynamic control of the carrier concentration, meaning the plasma frequency can be tuned. Transition metal nitrides, on the other hand, are very thermally stable and are compatible with computer systems. Additionally, these materials are biocompatible, while many complex oxides are very toxic.

Through each of these plenary sessions, it was demonstrated graphene has many material contenders in the field of nanoplasmonics. Indeed, many exciting applications showed how novel materials can be utilized to break the traditional “rules” of optics.


Selfie moment amplifies spotlight on scholarship winners

Newport Award selfie Teddi Laurin Scholarship

Nearly 250 students enjoyed a lively lunch Monday with experts who shared their experiences and wisdom on career paths in optics and photonics.

Winners of SPIE education and travel scholarships were recognized by SPIE President Robert Lieberman -- and Newport Corporation's Jim Fisher energized presentation of the latest Newport Research Excellence Travel Awards by giving each winner the opportunity to take a selfie onstage in front of the applauding audience (above left).

Newport has supported the program for more than a decade, Fisher said, noting that support for the program passed the quarter-million-dollar mark in 2014.

Lieberman and Ryan Laurin of Photonics Media also presented the first-ever Teddi Laurin Scholarship, jointly sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE, to Kaitlyn Williams of the University of Arizona (above right).

Newport travel awards at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016

Newport Research Excellence Travel Award winners with Newport Vice President Jim Fisher (far left)
SPIE scholarship presentation at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016

SPIE scholarship winners with SPIE President Robert Lieberman (back row, center)


Optoelectronics as motive power for future vehicles

Eli Yablonovitch at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Eli Yablonovitch

In the Monday afternoon plenary session on optics and photonics for sustainable energy, Eli Yablonovitch of the University of California, Berkeley, gave an exciting talk around a new scientific principle that has resulted in new efficiency records for solar cells.

Prior to about 2011, record efficiencies were in the range of 25%. However, that record was broken by Alta Devices by recognizing the importance of luminescent emission, jumping the record efficiency to 28.8%. Two-junction and four-junction efficiency records soon reached 31.5% and 38.8%, respectively, based on this principle.

Yablonovitch argued that while GaAs has been seen as expensive as compared to silicon, it can actually be made very efficient using an epitaxial liftoff process. In fact, he said, GaAs would ultimately be much less expensive than silicon because you would need much less material.

Thermophotovoltaics, he explained is not about the holes and electrons: it's all about the photon management. To recycle the photons, one uses a superb rear reflector that will drive higher efficiencies because GaAs is the most efficient fluorescent material that can be pumped -- with as high as 99.7% luminescent efficiency currently documented.

Using this principle, Yablonovitch showed how the work of his student Patrick Xiao demonstrates that electro-luminescent refrigeration could be possible and used for vaccine storage, and how high-temperature thermophotovoltaiacs could be applied in cars and autonomous vehicles.


Thermophotovoltaics for sustainable electricity

Peter Bermel at SPIE Optics + Photonics
Peter Bermel

The following talk by Peter Bermel of Purdue University continued the theme of thermophotovoltaics, showing that the heat-to-electricity ratio could reach as much as 85% at sufficiently high temperatures.

Bermel described the difference between traditional PVs and TPVs, and how photonic crystals could greatly enhance TPV performance. However, he said, it's not solely about the cell efficiency. It's also about the system efficiency.

That aspect is often ignored in PV efficiency studies, so he showed examples of systems using solar concentrators to convert sunlight into heat that could be harvested. These overall system efficiencies could approach 52% at reasonable temperatures.

Bermel identified key challenges in TPV research: integrating new high-performance components, such as selective solar absorbers, selective thermal emitters, and filters; modeling and characterizing the degradation of materials when in operation; demonstrating long-term reliability; and incorporating radiative cooling where necessary.


Recycling CO2 into fuel by artificial photosynthesis

Harry Atwater at SPIE Optics + Photonics
Harry Atwater

Artificial photosynthesis will one day reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as it generates fuels, but much research lies ahead, said Harry Atwater, director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) at Caltech, the session's third speaker.

"For now, finding a way to use sunlight to convert water and CO2 into fuel, in a balanced reaction with oxygen as a byproduct, is still very much in the basic research stage," Atwater said.

Current technology can produce, for example, hydrogen by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen with fairly high efficiency -- about 10%, or to make methanol fuel from CO2 captured from smokestacks, which delivers a very low yield.

Like nature's way of synthesis, reduction and oxidation of water requires catalysts, Atwater said. His team has made significant progress in developing new electrocatalysts, but a key goal is to identify new ones.

His center's devices for splitting water are 10 times more efficient than current crops, which do photosynthesis at 3 percent efficiency. "We need to develop the stability to let them run for hundreds of hours," he said. To achieve solar-to-fuel generation at more than 10 percent efficiency, with long-lived devices would be "quite an accomplishment."

Cutting CO2 levels is central to maintaining atmosphere temperature rises of no more than 1.5 degrees a year, Atwater said.


PV polymer standards and long-term thermal aging

Christopher Flueckiger at SPIE Optics + Photonics
Christopher Flueckiger

When performing research, many scientists have heard the question "but what are the applications?" Christopher Flueckiger of Underwriter Labs, the session's final speaker, helps turn scientific research into commercial products and applications while ensuring safety and meeting government standards.

Standards for polymers and plastics started developing in 1941 to ensure materials are able to maintain their properties under various conditions, Flueckiger said. The burning test, for example, shows how a plastic device handles high temperatures.

Unfortunately, short-term tests may not be able to predict how a plastic device will behave years later, as plastics slowly change over time in a process called creep.

Among its assessments, UL measures a device's thermal endurance, which may be able to predict the safety of a device in the longer term, and temperature ratings which temperature below which a critical property will not be unacceptably compromised over the lifetime of the device.

UL aims to create more stringent standards for plastic devices to ensure the safety of consumers, Flueckiger said. He noted that European standards tend to be stricter than American standards, and said that UL’s new tests and processes should ensure that research applications are as safe as possible.


Diversity and inclusion in the optics workplace

"Admitting that we have a problem, that we have bias, that we make assumptions about certain populations" Sonia Zárate of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) assessed as the biggest challenge the optics and photonics community faces in recruiting and retaining minorities and women in the workforce.

Zárate was part of the Women In Optics panel discussion that took place Monday evening entitled, Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Engineering. She was joined on stage by Leopold Green,  Jr., of the Council for the Advancement of Black Engineers (CABE), Renu Tripathi of Delaware State University, and Stacey Delvecchio of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Caterpillar Inc.

The four panelists shared their experiences working in organizations that are tackling the issues of inclusion and diversity in the STEM fields. They each acknowledged that while strides are being made, there is still tremendous opportunity to improve not only the numbers of women and minorities in STEM, but the culture of inclusion.

The panel was moderated by Julia Craven of Sandia National Labs. Craven is chair of the SPIE Women in Optics Task Force formed to identify how the optics and photonics community can better enable equal opportunities, rewards, and recognition for its members, independent of gender.

Prior to the panel, she introduced key findings of a survey conducted by the task force. To download the summary and for more information about the survey visit:

SPIE Optics + Photonics diversity panel

Panelists Leopold Green, Stacey Delvecchio, Sonia Zárate, and Renu Tripathi


Say it with a poster

The week's two poster sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings drew large crowds to view posters and meet contacts old and new.

SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session
SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session
SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session SPIE Optics + Photonics poster session


A wonderful welcome!

SPIE Optics + Photonics Welcome Reception

Another SPIE Optics + Photonics, another wonderful Welcome Reception under the sunny skies then starry night in San Diego.

See more photos from the Welcome Reception here


Artificial nervous systems and electronic plants

Magnus Berggren at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Magnus Berggren

In the first of four plenary talks Tuesday morning in the Organic Photonics and Electronics session, Magnus Berggren of Linköping University described how his lab has developed organic electronics to bridge the signaling gap between biological systems and electronics. This may make possible such innovations as parallel neurological systems and "body-area networks." These could be enabled by skin patches, organic-electronic ion pumps (OEIP) or other devices.

Berggren said that up to 40 percent of chronic pain patients can't be treated with drugs. OEIPs raise the prospect of electronic pain relief and spinal cord repair. He also predicted electronic delivery of neurotransmitters, and the ability to monitor and terminate epileptic seizures.

In the plant world, organics enable "plant-area networks" that add an artificial neuronal system to improve plant functionality. Berggren compared the leaves, stems, roots, and other parts of a plant system to the components, interconnects, and wires of electronic systems, saying that by creating digital circuits within the vascular systems of plants, growth can be controlled. This might be useful in farming, for example, to delay flowering of crops if a cold snap is expected.


Green electronics for a sustainable future

Elvira Fortunato at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Elvira Fortunato

The next speaker, Elvira Fortunato of Nova University of Lisbon, pioneered European research on transparent electronics, namely thin-film transistors based on oxide semiconductors. She described her work in green electronic materials, and highlighted their advantages, which include low cost, biocompatibility, and superior electronic performance.

Fortunato began her talk with an image of Tom Cruise using a fictional transparent screen in the 2004 film Minority Report, and later showed present-day examples that have been made possible by advancing research. She said that with the development of cloud computing, transparent electronics can be "more than Moore," meaning that much of the necessary computation can be done in the cloud, rather than on the circuits themselves, as data centers take on the work of microprocessors.

Challenges in this evolving landscape involve integrating with big data, the cloud, the Internet of Things, touch screens, and flexible devices, but Fortunato is confident that the combination of non-toxic green materials and simple, low-energy green technology will be able to overcome obstacles.


Elastronics for skin-inspired devices

Zhenan Bao at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Zhenan Bao

Human skin is an incredible sensor: it can sense many stimuli but is flexible and self-healing. Inspired by its capabilities, Zhenan Bao of Stanford University desires to create "elastronics": soft materials which are also electronics. She envisions enhanced wearables, smart clothes, and dermal and sub-dermal sensors. All would need to sustain large strains and be able to bend significantly while performing their intended functions.

In the short term, Bao is aiming for increased flexibility; longer-term, she hopes to have stretchable electronics that can interface with the human body. The ultimate goal is to mimic a biological system with a sensor in a skin which transmits to the brain.

While flexible electronics exist, stretchable electronics aren't quite there yet. However, various composites or structures based on kirigami (a form of paper folding with cuts) show promise. By patterning cuts onto a material, it can be stretched further than it normally would be able to stretch. The cuts, however, may impede conduction.

Strain may change the characteristics of a stretchable circuit or cause it to crack, break, and fail. Toward greater resilience, Bao said, an energy dissipation mechanism, such as breakable hydrogen bonds, allows a material to stretch past its normal limit.


Organic semiconductors and PDT

Ifor Samuel at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Ifor Samuel

Current treatment for skin cancer requires a much of the patient: there significant amount of waiting, the patient must come to a specially equipped hospital, and, the treatment may be very painful. Ifor Samuel of the University of St. Andrews utilizes photodynamic therapy to treat skin-cancer patients, and he and his team have designed an improved technique.

In treatment, a cream medication is applied to the skin cancer, which is then absorbed by the tumor. A high-intensity beam shines onto the tumor, the absorbed cream absorbs the light, and the tumor is destroyed when the cream interacts with the light.

The improved treatment is a wearable, disposable, and inexpensive light source a general practitioner may apply. Samuel's method uses a lower intensity of light for a longer period of time, meaning the treatment is less painful but just as effective.

Samuel also described an optical flexible muscle-contraction sensor designed by his lab to control a prosthetic limb.

Current sensors are based on electronics and use needles to pierce the skin. The sensors may be painful and eventually stop working due to scar tissue formation.

An optical sensor, however, may be placed on the surface of the skin. While light scatters throughout a muscle, muscle fibers tend to be aligned. When the muscle changes shape, the light scatters differently. By sensing the slight changes in intensity, the sensor can determine if the wearer has picked up an object or rotated the wrist, for example.


Organic Photonics + Electronics Best Student Paper Awards: recognizing excellence

Zakya Kafafi and Robby Janeck

Zakya Kafafi presents the first-place award to Robby Janneck

Organic Photonics + Electronics Symposium Chair Zakya Kafafi, Lehigh Univ., presented Best Student Paper Awards during the plenary break Tuesday morning.

First place went to Robby Janneck, IMEC and KU Leuven, for "Predicting the optimal process window for the coating of single crystalline organic films with mobilities exceeding 7 cm2/Vs" (9943-31). Other authors were Federico Vercesi, IMEC; Jan Genoe and Paul Heremans, IMEC and KU Leuven; and Cédric Rolin, IMEC.

Second place was awarded to Marcin Kielar, Univ. Bordeaux, for "Ultra-efficient all-printed organic photodetectors" (9944-8). Other authors were Lionel Hirsch, Univ. Bordeaux; and Olivier Dhez, ISORG.

Third place was awarded to Thomas Reitberger, Friedrich Alexander-Univ. Erlangen-Nürnberg, for "Printing polymer optical waveguides on conditioned transparent flexible foils by using the aerosol-jet technology" (9945-18). Other authors were Gerd Hoffmann, Tom Wolfer, and Ludger Overmeyer, Leibniz Univ. Hannover; and Jörg Franke, Lehrstuhl für Fertigungsautomatisierung und Produktionssystematik.


Marcin Kieler and Zakya Kafafi

Marcin Kieler and Zakya Kafafi

Thomas Reitberger and Zakya Kafafi

Thomas Reitberger and Zakya Kafafi


Happy exhibitors in the Sails Pavilion

2016 Optics + Photonics Exhibition

Kevin Belski, left, and Kelly West of Ocean Optics

The exhibition opened Tuesday to a large crowd and upbeat exhibitors. As Kevin Beleski, Application Sales Engineer with Ocean Optics summed it up, "It has been really busy. I love this show!"

Other exhibitors echoed that sentiment, including Steve Kos with the Griot Group, who said, "There is a trickle of visitors all day, then big surges. I really like the trickles because we have the opportunity to talk more comprehensively with people about their requirements for laser beam analysis. It is why I keep coming to this exhibition."

The exhibition continues through 2 pm Thursday.

See more photos from the exhibition here.


Good prospects at the Job Fair

SPIE Optics + Photonics Job Fair 2016

A record 18 companies had representatives in the SPIE Job Fair Tuesday and Wednesday to talk with prospective candidates about opportunities in firms working in a wide range of technologies, including virtual reality, space exploration, security systems, and communications. The job fair is sponsored by the SPIE Career Center.


Fellows welcomed; focus on diversity for innovation

SPIE Optics + Photonics Fellows Luncheon with Stacey Delvecchio

Stacey Delvecchio speaks to SPIE Fellows about diversity in science and engineering

Fellows honored at a luncheon on Tuesday included three new Fellows of the Society promoted this year. SPIE President Robert Lieberman and President-Elect Glenn Boreman presented Thomas Cooley, Richard Juergens, and Richard Pfisterer with plaques and pins to commemorate their technical achievements and their service to the general optics community.

Luncheon speaker Stacey Delvecchio of Caterpillar, Inc., past president and Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, gave an update on "Progress and Opportunities for Science and Engineering Diversity Worldwide."

Diversity matters for many reasons, Delvecchio said, illustrating that companies with more diversity among work teams have more success with innovation. Reviewing current numbers for inclusion in the engineering community, she emphasized that opportunities still exist.

"It is an honor to be speaking to leaders of the field," Delvecchio said, noting that it is up to leaders "to carry the torch and effect change.”


Quantitatively deciphering breast cancer

Maryellen Giger at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Maryellen Giger

In the Signal and Image Processing plenary talk Tuesday afternoon, SPIE Vice President Maryellen Giger of the University of Chicago described using radiomics to convert images into data and deep learning to devise algorithms from that data to help find and analyze cancers that may be missed by visual assessment.

In computer-aided detection, digital images are tagged algorithmically for interesting features, and a radiologist assesses the tagged features to determine whether there is cancer. Radiologists show a statistically significant increase in detection of cancer with computer aids.

Radiomics and imaging genomics also aid in identifying risk patterns. Women with a particular gene, for example, have a genetic predisposition to develop breast cancer. Images can be coupled with genetic information to create more robust algorithms for computer-aided detection to predict if cancer will occur.

Once cancer is detected, treatment is enhanced when the medical team can predict malignancy, invasiveness, responsiveness to therapy, and other factors. An invasive biopsy may be taken to determine these factors. However, cancerous lesions are highly heterogeneous, so that five samples may give five different conclusions.

A noninvasive digital biopsy enables the computer to assess texture of the tumor to determine heterogeneity, using a contrast material that adds a time component. The contrast material is absorbed preferentially by the lesion, and malignant and benign tumors release the contrast material differently over time.


New target for LIGO: ‘every black hole' in the Universe

Daniel Sigg at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Daniel Sigg

Daniel Sigg of Caltech and LIGO Hanford voiced a lofty goal for the LIGO observatories in his Optical Engineering plenary talk on Tuesday afternoon: "to capture every black hole merger in the entire Universe."

The historic recording by the LIGO observatories last year of two black holes colliding a billion years ago confirmed Einstein's prediction of 100 years earlier.

"Next time, we won't be out to prove that gravitational waves exist. Now, we are just going to do astrophysics. We are going to find more black holes, more neutron stars, more binary neutron-star mergers," he said.

LIGO capture a 200 millisecond recording on 14 September 2015 of a tiny chirp that resulted from the collision of two black holes spinning at 100 times a second. The amplitude of the movement, Sigg said, was a 200th of a proton.

That was followed by a second, longer recording, of one second of data, on 26 December 26, confirming Einstein's prediction of such ripples in space. Until these observations, some had doubts that the waves existed.

Work with several other observatories abroad will increase in the next few years, including Europe's Virgo, a large interferometer in Italy and two in Asia.

Read more in the article.


Annual General Meeting of the SPIE Corporation

Annual General Meeting of the SPIE Corporation
From left, SPIE Immediate Past President Toyohiko Yatagai, Utsunomiya University;
Boreman, Lieberman, Eugene Arthurs, SPIE; Spiegel, and Giger

SPIE members attending the annual general business meeting heard about 2016 election results, the CEO and President's report on the "State of the Society," as well as a treasury report and Q & A with SPIE officers.

SPIE Fellow Jacobus (Jim) Oschmann, Vice President and General Manager Civil Space at Ball Aerospace, has been elected to serve as the 2017 Vice President of the Society, announced current SPIE President Robert Lieberman. Oschmann joins the SPIE presidential chain and will serve as President-Elect in 2018 and President in 2019. Gary Spiegel, retired from Newport Corp., was elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Newly elected Society Directors, who will serve three-year terms for 2017-2019, were also announced:

  • Bernard Kress, Microsoft Corp.
  • David Sampson, The University of Western Australia
  • Joanna Schmit, 4D Technology
  • Christina Willis, Fibertek Inc.

Glenn Boreman, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Plasmonics, Inc., will serve as President in 2017, and Maryellen Giger, University of Chicago, will serve as President-Elect.

Read more in the SPIE press release.

Jim Oschmann

Jim Oschmann

Christina Willis

Christina Willis


SPIE celebrates its members

Optics + Photonics Member Reception

SPIE members gathered on the Coronado Terrace at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Marina after the Annual General Meeting of the Society to socialize, have a delicious dinner, and relax after a busy day attending conferences at the convention center. Included in the group above are SPIE Board of Directors member Wolfgang Osten, Past President Malgorzata Kujawinska, Fernando Mendoza-Santoyo (a past board member who will serve on the board again next year), Immediate Past President Toyohiko Yatagai, newly elected board member Joanna Schmit, and Pascal Picart.

A special tribute to the retiring SPIE Manager of Education Services, Kathleen Robinson, and Manager of Membership and Communities, June Thompson, recognized their dedicated and long-time service to the society.


Members of distinction

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 Senior Member breakfast

SPIE President Bob Lieberman welcomed 22 new Senior Members to the fifth annual SPIE-hosted breakfast. Senior Members are honored for their professional experience, active involvement with the optics community and SPIE, or significant performance that sets them apart from their peers.

With the elevation of 198 to Senior Member status in 2016, it increases the total roster to 814. Lieberman encouraged attendees to nominate peers for elevation to Senior Member status. The next deadline for nominations is 15 March 2017, and the nomination criteria is available for reference at

Lieberman also introduced his Presidential Task Force on Diversity, a mission to develop a set of strategies that SPIE can adopt to improve and enhance diversity and inclusion in all aspects of SPIE. Led by Membership Committee Chair Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, its mission is to develop a set of strategies that SPIE can adopt to improve and enhance diversity and inclusion in all aspects of SPIE. Diversity is defined as any group that is considered to be underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering. This includes race, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, economic, and geographic.


Fringe art, interferometry-style

Fringe is not just for analysis in the world of interferometry. Each year, conference participants have a chance to vie for honors and "a silly optical prize" in the Interferometry conference Fringe Art Awards, voted on by fellow participants. Below from left are second-place winner Achyut Adhikari of Nanyang Technoloigcal University, conference chair Kathy Creath of Optineering, third-place wnner Curtis Larimer of Pacific Northwest National Lab, session chair Joanna Schmit of 4D Technology Corp., and first-place winner Maciej Trusiak of Warsaw University of Technology.

Fringe Art Award winners and chairs
2016 winners and chairs
Fringe Art Award: first place
First place: Shearing Super Nova
Fringe Art Award: second place
Second place: Residual Stress (PMMA)
Fringe Art Award: third place
Third place: Beautiful Bug (bacterial biofilm)


A gala evening!

SPIE 2016 Annual Awards Banquet

SPIE President Robert Lieberman presided over the 2016 SPIE annual awards banquet

A festive crowd of scores of supporting family members, past and present SPIE officers and directors, and scientists and students from around the world helped celebrate the 2016 SPIE award winners at the annual awards banquet.

The SPIE Gold Medal is the highest honor the Society bestows, and is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding engineering or scientific accomplishments in optics, electro-optics, or photographic technologies or applications. This year's award was presented to to Paras Prasad, Executive Director of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prasad, a member of the Society for more than 30 years, has developed and taught courses for SPIE in nonlinear optics, nanophotonics, biophotonics, and nanomedicine; chaired the Nano/Biophotonics track at BiOS at SPIE Photonics West; and presented and published numerous papers in SPIE journals and conference proceedings.

"SPIE is a champion of photonics," Prasad said. The society's more than 300 student chapters help promote the field around the world, "inspring many young minds and transforming the photonics world."

The SPIE President's Award was presented to Jennifer Barton, University of Arizona, for inspirational leadership in the biophotonics community, excellence in research, and dedicated involvement in governance.

Barton told the audience that she first became acquainted with SPIE through accessing its publications, specifically the Proceedings of SPIE. The "yellow books" were the most helpful research resources she encountered as she began her career, she said.

However, she soon found that "exciting as the yellow books were, SPIE conferences were event better. SPIE has been really critical to my career."

Barton said that a great strength of SPIE is that it is "not elitist, and is interesting in bringing young people in."

Other awards presented included:

  • A.E. Conrady Award to Lacy Cook, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems
  • SPIE Early Career Achievement Award -- Academia Focus to Jie Yao, University of California, Berkeley
  • SPIE Early Career Achievement Award -- Industry Focus to Homan Yuen, NewGen Venture Partners
  • SPIE Educator Award to Cheng Chung (C. C.) Lee, National Central University, Taiwan
  • Harold E. Edgerton Award to Christopher Barty, Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  • Rudolph Kingslake Medal and PrizeXinmin Shen, Qunzhang Tu, Hui Deng, Guoliang Jiang, and Kazuya Yamamura
  • SPIE Technology Achievement Award to Kent Choquette, University of Illinois
  • Chandra S. Vikram Award to James Trolinger, MetroLaser, Inc.

Paras Prasad

Paras Prasad

Jennifer Barton

Jennifer Barton


Navigating industry challenges

Mareo Boero, European Patent Office

Mauro Boero

Mauro Boero with the European Patent Organization gave a comprehensive review Thursday morning of the European Patent System with focus on the procedure, its typical duration, the requirements that must be met at the various stages in order to obtain a European patent, and its related costs. Differences between the European and US and other patent systems were analyzed and the most recent developments such as the unitary patent were discussed.

The session was one of several during the week focused on industry topics.

On Wednesday, Curtis Vock and Steve Barone of Lathrop & Gage LLP presented on patents in optical sciences, and SPIE Government Affairs Director Jennifer Douris and Kerry Scarlott of BakerHostetler presented on updates to the U.S. Munitions List affecting the photonics industry and strategies for navigating U.S. export controls.

At a breakfast for exhibitor representatives on Thursday, SPIE Industry Development Director Stephen Anderson gave an update on an ongoing comparative profile of the photonics industry by SPIE. Key indicators continue to show an upward trend since the study began in 2012, with growth in the number of companies, revenues generated, and numbers of jobs.


And one more award ...

In the final hours of the week, Active Photonic Materials conference chairs Ganapathi Subramania and Stavroula Foteinopoulou announced a Best Student Paper Award to Joseph Suelzer, Indiana University -- Purdue University Indianapolis for "Parity-time symmetry breaking in time-delayed, optically coupled semiconductor lasers" [9920-58], co-authored by Yogesh Joglekar and Gautam Vemuri.



Press and blog coverage

LIGO now targeting 'every black hole' in the Universe (

Artificial recycling of CO2 into fuel does work (

Zoom lenses on next Mars Rover: a first for NASA (

Prasad to receive award during SPIE Optics + Photonics 2016 for nanomedicine work (Laser Focus World)

Optics course for sales professionals (Novus Light Technologies)

UC solar graduate student lighting the night in a controlled way (University of California Merced News)



Preview reports from the SPIE Newsroom

Researcher-authored reports on work to be presented at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Multicolor rapid diagnostics for infectious disease (ref. 9923-28, Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli)

Custom complex 3D microtubule networks for experimentation and engineering (ref. 9930-4, Michael Vershinin et al.)

Anisotropic Fabry-Perot resonators for anti-counterfeiting applications (ref. 9940-2, Sin-Doo Lee et al.)

Organic LEDs with low power consumption and long lifetimes (ref. 9941-18, Satoshi Seo et al.)

Using femtosecond lasers to grow nonlinear optical crystals in glass (ref. 9958-5, Carl Liebig et al.)

Synchrotron ‘pink beam’ tomography for the study of dynamic processes (ref. 9967-33, Mark Rivers)

Making unique IR observations with an airborne 2.5m telescope (ref. 9973-17, Eric Becklin et al.)

Robust photon-pair source survives rocket explosion (ref. 9980-8, Alexander Ling et al.)



SPIE press releases

Jim Oschmann of Ball Aerospace elected to SPIE presidential chain (30 August 2016)

High-tech and virtual reality companies coming to San Diego to seek engineers, technicians, ‘wizards’ at SPIE Job Fair (24 August 2016)

Engineering and science at the nanoscale -- impacting life at all levels -- to highlight event in San Diego (9 August 2016)

SPIE Optics + Photonics technologies drive changes from daily life to our view of the universe (23 May 2016)



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All photos © SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, except where noted.

SPIE Optics + Photonics

28 August – 1 September 2016
San Diego, California, USA

Browse at left or click on the links below to follow the week's news.


The 'soul of the group': on leadership

A special tribute to Naoya (Nagy) Ogata

Optical nanotransformers

Zoom lenses on the next Mars Rover

Biological inspiration for new robotics

The Optics Outreach Games

Starting with networking: Early Career Professionals breakfast

Golden avenues in plasmonics

Fascinating metasurfaces

Emerging materials for nanophotonics and plasmonics

Selfie moment amplifies spotlight on scholarship winners

Optoelectronics as motive power for future vehicles

Thermophotovoltaics for sustainable electricity

Recycling CO2 into fuel by artificial photosynthesis

PV polymer standards and long-term thermal aging

Diversity and inclusion in the optics workplace

Say it with a poster

A wonderful welcome!

Artificial nervous systems and electronic plants

Green electronics for a sustainable future

Elastronics for skin-inspired devices

Organic semiconductors and PDT

Organic Photonics + Electronics Best Student Paper Award: recognizing excellence

Happy exhibitors in the Sails Pavilion

Quantitatively deciphering breast cancer

Good prospects at the job fair

Fellows welcomed; focus on diversity for innovation

New target for LIGO: 'every black hole' in the Universe

Annual General Meeting of the SPIE Corporation

SPIE celebrates its members

Members of distinction

Fringe art, interferometry-style

A gala evening!

Navigating industry challenges

And one more award ...



Press and blog coverage

Preview reports from the SPIE Newsroom

SPIE press releases



Download your free Conference and Exhibition App (iPhone and Android)

Download the free
Conference and Exhibition App
for iOS or Android.