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SPIE Photonics West 2017 news and photos

Photonics West 2017 News and Photos

It was a great week at SPIE Photonics West 2017!
Browse event highlights by scrolling down or links on the right.

Bigger than ever: SPIE Photonics West 2017

SPIE Photonics West Exhibition 2017

Approximately 23,000 scientists, researchers, engineers, students, and others from throughout the global photonics community were among the total attendance at Moscone Center and environs for nearly 100 conferences and two exhibitions, complemented by a course program and numerous networking events.

Technical conferences were organized into BiOS, LASE, and OPTO topics, with applications tracks in 3D Printing, Brain, and Translational Biophotonics.

More than 1,380 exhibiting companies participated in the Photonics West Exhibition Tuesday through Thursday, with even more visitors than last year filling North and South halls to see what is new, including more than 200 new-product launches. Exhibitors appreciated both the quality and quantity of traffic. Read more in our press release — and see more scenes from the floor in the exhibition photo gallery. (Bay Area Event Photography)

A few of our favorites: staff picks from the photo files
Schott donation to Project NightNight

Thank you, exhibition visitors who made a donation while picking up the latest shot glass at the Schott booth in South Hall -- you helped raise $2,500 to help homeless children sleep better at night and feel stronger by day.
Karsten Danzmann and gravitational waves detection

Karsten Danzmann's contagious enthusiasm about the detection in late 2015 of gravitational waves, predicted in 1915 by Albert Einstein, was matched by his enthusiasm for what's ahead with new technology -- and by dazzling images.
Whiskey tasting with

Whiskey tasting has become a tradition at the booth -- and if it's not your drink, no worries: the meatballs are delicious and the hospitality unbeatable.(Viv King photo)
Bay Bridge by night

The LEDs adorning the Bay Bridge are a great showcase for photonics technology, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. This view is from the ferry building at the Embarcadero.



Waynant tribute: Israel Gannot

Tribute to Ronald Waynant

The conference on Optical Fibers and Sensors for Medical Diagnostics and Treatment Applications opened with a tribute to Ron Waynant, a pioneer in the field of medical laser applications who worked with laser technologies for more than 45 years.

Waynant, who died in May, was the longtime chair of the Mechanisms for Low-light Therapy conference. Israel Gannot (at right), who frequently collaborated with Waynant, called him a creative, innovative, and respected scientist in the biophotonics community.


BiOS Expo: busy -- with leads!

2017 BiOS Expo

The two-day BiOS Expo opened with more than 200 companies on hand to meet potential customers and collaborators at the world's largest biomedical optics and biophotonics exhibition. Products being shown included a portable brain imaging system that looks at brain activity in real time from OBELAB (above). See more photos in the exhibition gallery.

Exhibitors were happy with the traffic (below) as well as the quality of leads. Among the comments:

“BiOS 2017 has been better than any of the past five years' events,” said Jim Dooley, Sales Director at Advanced Optical Components, FISBA. “On the first day, we had double the leads of both days last year -- great quality leads, too.”

“We come to BiOS to focus on our biomedical customers,” said Keith Oakes, Director, ELFORLIGHT. “We have more time to have deep, interesting conversations with current and potential customers before the rush of Photonics West.”

“We have exhibited here for several years and this is the most traffic ever,” said Dilon Varusha, Regional Account Manager for Osela. “I see my regular clients plus I'm getting new leads. Clients come to BiOS to see our new products.”

BiOS Expo 2017


Lung health, fluorescent proteins, translational research

Stephen Lam, BC Cancer Research Institute

Stephen Lam
Atul Mehta, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute

Atul Mehta
Lida Hariri, Massachusetts General Hospital

Lida Hariri
David Sampson, University of Western Australia

David Sampson

Afternoon sessions included a high-level session on lung health, with experts in medicine and in optics discussing clinical problems in pulmonary fibrosis and lung transplant rejection, in the conference on Optical Techniques in Pulmonary Medicine.

Stephen Lam (BC Cancer Research Institute), who with Matthew Brenner (University of California, Irvine) chaired the session, introduced the first speaker, Atul Mehta of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. Mehta — who said he thinks of himself as "a country doctor" who is working in a big-city clinic — is one of the foremost experts in lung transplantation, noted Lam in his introduction.

Following Mehta, other speakers in the session were Harold Collard (Univerity of California, San Francisco), Lida Hariri and Melissa Suter (Massachusetts General Hospital), David Sampson (University of Western Australia), and Roland Nador (BC Cancer Research Institute). Chairs and speakers participated in a panel discussion following the talks.


Malte Gather, University of St. Andrews

Malte Gather
Bernard Choi, Beckman Laser Institute

Bernard Choi

Malte Gather reported on work at Soft Matter Photonics lab at the University of St. Andrews, in a talk on "Organic LEDs as biocompatible light sources for optogenetics," part of the conference on Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation. (Hear more about the lab's work with fluorescent proteins derived from jellyfish, in a video interview with Gather on

Earlier in the day, Bernard Choi of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic gave a talk on "Addressing the challenges of translating laser speckle imaging to the clinic," in the conference on Molecular-guided Surgery. The challenges and opportunities in translational research is a theme of high interest among BiOS conferences.


BiOS Hot Topics: breakthroughs and opportunities

Jim Fujimoto and Rox Anderson at BiOS Hot Topics 2017

Jim Fujimoto (left) and Rox Anderson
Chris Contag and Glenn Boreman at BiOS Hot Topics 2017

Chris Contag (left) and Glenn Boreman

BiOS symposium chairs James Fujimoto (Massachusetts Institue of Technology) and Rox Anderson (Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine) opened Saturday evening's Hot Topics session with a welcome to the audience of several hundred, followed by presentation of the SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award to Chris Contag (Michigan State University and Stanford University) by Bruce Tromberg (Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Center, University of California, Irvine) and SPIE President Glenn Boreman.

The award recognizes Contag's contributions to the invention of in vivo optical imaging using bioluminescent reporters. Contag said he was "honored to be in the shadow of such a giant" in receiving the Britton Chance award.

Session chair Sergio Fantini (Tufts University) introduced the evening's eight speakers, who described advances in topics including imaging of live cells, optogenetics in cardiac treatment, and slide-free tissue microscopy.

Robert Alfano at BiOS Hot Topics

Robert Alfano
Emilia Entcheva at BiOS Hot Topics

Emilia Entcheva
Richard Levenson at BiOS Hot Topics

Richard Levenson
Lev Perelman at BiOS Hot Topics

Lev Perelman
Zhongping Chen at BiOS Hot Topics

Zhongping Chen
Hideaki Koizumi at BiOS Hot Topics

Hideaki Koizumi
Alberto Diaspro at BiOS Hot Topics

Alberto Diaspro
Enrico Gratton at BiOS Hot Topics

Enrico Gratton

Robert Alfano (City College of New York/City University of New York), a pioneer in the development of optical biopsy techniques, provided an update on recent advances in the field.

Emilia Entcheva (George Washington University) walked the audience through her group’s work in cardiac optogenetics, a new framework for the study of cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmias.

Richard Levenson (University of California, Davis Medical Center) described a novel technique that uses ultraviolet surface excitation for slide-free tissue microscopy — entailing a three-minute process — could have profound implications for global health.

Lev Perelman (Harvard University Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center) shared his group’s research involving CLASS (confocal light absorption and scattering spectroscopic microscopy), which provides new insights into cell structures.

Zhongping Chen (University of California, Irvine),discussed advances in functional OCT, focusing primarily on OCT angiography and Doppler OCT (D-OCT), for vascular mapping, neuron detection and for studying neurovascular disease and respiratory cilia function.

Hideaki Koizumi (Hitachi Ltd.) spoke on diffuse optics, saying his dream is to develop a “mindscope” that could be used for diagnosing brain diseases such as depression and schizophrenia.

Alberto Diaspro (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia) celebrated the evolution of the microscope in his talk, from the “microscopiums” and “telescopiums” of the 1600s to the nanoscale optical microscopes (“nanoscopy”) of today.

Enrico Gratton (University of California, Irvine) described his group's work in new forms of fluctuation correlation spectroscopy and fluorescence diffusion tensor image analysis to map the diffusion of molecules.

Look for more on the talks in the Tuesday edition of the SPIE Photonics West Show Daily.


You are ... here! 

BiOS 2017

Sunday was another full day at Photonics West, but there is always time for one more photo, as demonstrated by the group above in the lobby of Moscone West.


Translational Research: meeting clinical needs

Gabriela Apiou, Parisa Farzam, and Bruce Tromberg

From left, Gabriela Apiou, award winner
Parisa Farzam, and Bruce Tromberg

The Translational Research lunch forum on Sunday paired a neurological surgeon explaining the unmet clinical needs he and his colleagues face and the winner of the Translational Research Award who is developing an optical device that would perform diagnostic measurements in minutes rather than hours.

Parisa Farzam, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, received the 2017 Translational Research Award. Farzam told the nearly 100 attendees at the forum that a diffuse correlation spectroscopy blood flow monitor tested in rats could become a new instrument to help doctors quickly and non-invasively diagnose and treat patients with intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure, brain conditions which frequently lead to stroke and death.

Yama Akbari of the University of California, Irvine, said surgeons now must perform highly invasive procedures that can take two hours or more, just to determine whether surgery is needed to relieve pressure in the brain. Having a sensor similar to a pulse oximeter (a clip-on device used in many doctor's offices and ambulances to measure oxygen saturation in the blood) would be a "potential game changer," Akbari said. "There's a lot we can do if we know the intracranial pressure is high," he said of devices like Farzam's.

Translational Research symposium chairs are Bruce Tromberg of Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Center, University of California, Irvine, and Gabriela Apiou of Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute, and Harvard Medical School.

Tromberg said there were 250 submissions for the award.


BiOS students meet the experts

BiOS Student Lunch with the Experts

Students had the opportunity to network with leaders in the optics and photonics industry including Past President Robert Lieberman and other photonics leaders during a lunch Sunday afternoon. SPIE President Glenn Boreman welcomed everyone, saying how thrilled he was to have a chance to meet the future of the community. More than 20 recipients attended the luncheon (pictured below, with Boreman).

In 2016, SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs including individual scholarships, travel grants for student authors to present at conferences, and student chapter leader training.

BiOS Student Lunch with the Experts


'Charting a Course' in photonics

Nishant Mohan, Caroline Boudoux, Stefaan Vandendriessche, Andrea Armani

A professional career is a lifelong journey of building technical, communication, and management skills, and learning how best to serve supervisors, students, and customers, agreed a panel of experts who each have successfully "charted a course" in photonics.

"From a startup point of view, I want you to be versatile," said Caroline Boudoux, cofounder of Castor Optics and a professor at École Polytechnique Montréal.

"The best way to get mentors," noted Andrea Armani of the University of Southern California, "is to take people out to lunch."

Nishant Mohan, director of product management and marketing at Wasatch Photonics, moderated the panel, which also included Stefaan Vandendriessche, a product line manager of laser optics at Edmund Optics (from left above, Mohan, Boudoux, Vandendriessche, and Armani).


Clinical translation of fluorescence-guided surgery

Guided Surgery panel

Panelists at a forum on the clinical translation of fluorescence-guided surgery discussed the need for standardization of the tools, contrast agents, and measuring instruments used in molecular-guided surgery.

"We need to make surgery great," said session chair Brian Pogue of Dartmouth University.

From left above, are panelists Abbas Bandukwala of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Paula Jacobs from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, John Fengler from Novadaq Technologies, Vasilis Ntziachristos of Helmholtz Zentrum München, Ian McDowall of Intuitive Surgical, and Ute Resch-Genger of Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und prüfung (BAM).


Photoacoustic imaging, magnetic gradient fields for safer surgeries

Muyinatu Lediju Bell

Muyinatu Lediju Bell

Muyinatu Lediju Bell of Johns Hopkins University presented work Sunday by Blackberrie Eddins on optimizing light delivery for a photoacoustic system, in the conference on Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing. Under Lediju Bell's leadership, the Photoacoustic and Ultrasonic Systems Engineering (PULSE) Lab at Johns Hopkins is working on combining photoacoustic imaging with existing surgical tools to enable safer surgeries. Hear more about the work in a video interview with Lediju Bell on

Daniel Hensley of the University of California, Berkeley, reported on magnetic fluid hyperthermia (MFH) as a promising therapeutic approach for applications such as cancer treatment and targeted drug delivery, in a keynote talk (10066-3) Sunday in the conference on Energy-based Treatment of Tissue and Assessment.

Hensley noted that a fundamental challenge in MFH is precise localization of the therapy at locations arbitrarily deep in the body. Magnetic gradient fields provide spatial localization of the tracer signal in magnetic particle imaging (MPI) and can be leveraged to localize energy deposition in MFH.

He described a technique for localization of MFH with a custom-built combined MPI-MFH system, with the possibility of combining MPI and MFH in a single theranostic platform device including real-time heating feedback via MPI signals.

Sophinese Iskander-Rizk, Erasmus MC, fields a question

Sophinese Iskander-Rizk, Erasmus MC, answers a question following her presentation
Sunday (10064-17) on photoacoustic characterization of the left atrium wall


Neurotechnologies: new plenary focus

A new plenary session on Neurotechnologies highlighted the breadth of the exciting advances occurring in the field of neurophotonics. The session was organized by Brain applications track symposium chairs David Boas (Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School), editor-in-chief of the SPIE journal Neurophotonics, and Rafael Yuste (Columbia University), a pioneer in the development of optical methods for brain research.

One of the initial challenges in understanding the brain has been to find new ways to measure tens of thousands of neurons simultaneously, Boas noted. This requires taking an interdisciplinary approach to technology development that brings together neuroscientists, engineers, physicists, and clinical researchers, and was part of the inspiration to add the Brain track, he said.

Robert Campbell

Robert Campbell
Francesco Pavone

Francesco Pavone
Valentina Emiliani

Valentina Emiliani
Peter So

Peter So
Chris Xu

Chris Xu
Shaoqun Zeng

Shaoqun Zeng
Adam Bauer

Adam Bauer
Maria Angela Franceschini

Maria Angela Franceschini
Rafael Yuste

Rafael Yuste
Edmund Talley

Edmund Talley

Speakers were:

  • Robert Campbell, University of Alberta. His lab is working to develop new kinds of protein indicators to study neuronal activity. While early calcium indicators were synthetic tools, the Campbell Lab is working on genetically encoded proteins, taking a fluorescent protein and turning it into a calcium indicator, “a proxy for neuronal activity.”
  • Francesco Pavone, Università degli Studi di Firenze, on optical detection of spatial-temporal correlations in whole brain activity. His group is taking a multi-modality approach in mouse models to study brain rehabilitation following a stroke.
  • Valentina Emiliani, Université Paris Descartes, on 2-photon optogenetics with millisecond temporal precision and cellular resolution. Her lab is working with computer-generated holography, spatial light modulators, and endoscopy to control the activity of a single neuronal cell.
  • Peter So, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on a strategy for monitoring synaptic activity across the full dendritic arbor. He described his group’s work using 3D holographic excitation for targeted scanning as a way to study and map synaptic locations in the brain.
  • Chris Xu, Cornell University, on 3-photon microscopy for deep brain imaging. The technology has vastly improved the signal-to-background ratio for deep imaging in a non-sparsely labeled brain, enabling new inroads into deep imaging of brain tissue, structural imaging, and imaging brain activity.
  • Shaoqun Zeng, Wuhan National Lab for Optoelectronics, on chemical sectioning for high-throughput ex-vivo brain imaging. The goal is to systematically and automatically obtain a complete morphology of individual neurons.
  • Adam Bauer, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, on mapping functional connections in the mouse brain. “We want to be able to help patients who are incapable of performing tasks, such as infants and those with impairments.” The lab has developed a functional connectivity optical intrinsic signal imaging system to study mouse models of Alzheimer’s and functional connectivity following focal ischemia, and to map cell-specific connectivity in awake mice.
  • Maria Angela Franceschini, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, on clinical neuro-monitoring. She described her group’s work developing MetaOX, a tissue oxygen consumption monitor which has been tested in neonatal intensive care units to monitor hypoxic ischemic injury and therapeutic hypothermia. The device is being evaluated in Africa to study the effects of malnutrition on brain development and hydrocephalus outcomes in newborns.
  • Rafael Yuste, Columbia University, on novel neurotechnologies. “People say it’s just too complicated (to understand the brain). We do have methods that allow us to see the entire activity of the brain, but not enough resolution of a single neuron. I believe we don’t have the right method yet. We need to be able to record from inside the neuron and capture every single spike in every neuron in brain circuits.” Learn more in the video interview with Yuste on
  • Edmund Talley, National Institutes of Health, on opportunities and priorities in neurophotonics: perspectives from the NIH. The U.S. BRAIN Initiative is slated to receive more than $430 million in the 2017 federal budget, plus $1.6 billion in dedicated funds through 2026 via the 21 st Century Cures Act passed in December 2016. “There is some very serious investment in neurotechnologies to understand how the mind works, and there is bipartisan political support.”


Congratulations! SPIE awards presented, new Fellows honored

Edward Delp and Glenn Boreman

Edward Delp III and Glenn Boreman
Maryellen Giger, Utkarsh Sharma, and Glenn Boreman

Maryellen Giger, Utkarsh Sharma,
and Glenn Boreman

Two top SPIE awards were presented Monday morning.

Edward Delp III of Purdue University was presented with the 2017 SPIE Technology Achievement award by SPIE President Glen Boremann before the start of OPTO plenary talks on Monday morning. Delp was honored for his pioneering work in multimedia security including watermarking and device forensics, and for his contributions to image and video compression technologies.

Utkarsh Sharma, Director of the Advanced Development Group at Optovue, Inc., was presented with the 2017 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award for the development of first FDA-cleared optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography and other advanced OCT technologies. SPIE President-Elect Maryellen Giger joined SPIE President Glenn Boreman for the presentation at the Fellows Luncheon.

Boreman, Giger, and SPIE Vice President Jim Oschmann (at right below) also introduced 33 of this year's 71 new Fellows of the Society.

Erik Herzog of Washington University in St. Louis followed with a fascinating talk on imaging circadian gene expression in real time, addressing the ability to monitor daily rhythms in gene expression in mammalian cells. Using in vivo and in vitro preparations, Herzog has learned about the mechanisms that generate and coordinate these cellular and molecular events to produce daily rhythms in physiology and behavior like sleep-wake and feeding-fasting.,

Circadian pacemakers are found in all living organisms, Herzog said, and govern daily rhythms in sleep, eating, alertness, and other functions.

Understanding just how these mechanisms work is providing insights into treating conditions such as Parkinson's disease, and identifying prime times for adminstering cancer drugs in for truly personalized medical regimes.

Fellows Luncheon, SPIE Photonics West 2017


Quantum dots, energy, LiFi in OPTO plenary talks

Shanhui Fan

Shanhui Fan
Dieter Bimberg

Dieter Bimberg
Harald Haas

Harald Haas

Speakers in the OPTO plenary session Monday explored the promise of technology in controlling thermal radiation, quantum dots, and LiFi — wireless communication using visible light.

Controlling thermal radiation opens new possibilities for technological applications, said Shanhui Fan of Stanford University.

One example is a passive cooling system. Almost any black material, surrounded by an insulator, radiates heat. By putting such a setup on a rooftop, you can passively cool buildings at night by as much as 15 degrees C below the ambient temperature.

Fan and his colleagues have devised a way to cool buildings during the day. They fabricated a structure made of multiple layers of dielectric materials, which reflect sunlight but still strongly emit infrared radiation in the 8 to 13 micron range.

A module cools running water to below ambient temperature and feeds the water feeds into a condenser, resulting in an air-conditioning unit that doesn't require electricity.

Dieter Bimberg of Technische Universität Berlin described the benefits and potential of quantum dots in a variety of applications including quantum cryptography and energy-efficient nanophotonics.

Quantum dots can be fabricated via self-organizing processes. The dots, appearing as pyramids with a diameter of a few nanometers, act like individual atoms, with completely quantized energy levels. This allows them to emit light at discrete wavelengths. embedding quantum dots in a waveguide creates a nanophotonic device, like a laser or amplifier.

A single quantum dot can have important uses in quantum cryptography and communication. Within a quantum dot, a hole and an electron, bound together as a quasiparticle called an exciton, can recombine and emit one or at most two polarized photons. One photon can serve as a qubit for sending encrypted signals; two are useful for entanglement.

Unlike in classical encryption, quantum encryption enables the sender and receiver to know immediately if an interloper has broken the coded signal. Quantum dot technology is also relatively simple and inexpensive.

In a large assembly of quantum dots, their discrete properties are hidden, makes them advantageous for creating or transmitting optical signals through communication networks.

Concluding the plenary session, Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh and pureLiFi Ltd. potentially revolutionary possibilities of LiFi – using light from an LED to stream data to a computer. The technology could a role in applications from driverless cars and industrial robots to delivering the internet to remote areas and the Internet of Things.

LiFi installations are proliferating across the globe. “Commercial activity is increasing all the time,” Haas said. “The more pilot projects we have, the more we can show that this technology improves our lives.”


Photonics clusters increase focus on the industry

Pro Mexico

Oracio Barbosa García (Centro de Investigaciones
en Optica) and Azul Ogazón Gómez (Pro Mexico)
represented the Mexican photonics industry.
(Matthew Peach photo)

The Photonics Cluster reception provided an opportunity to showcase the ever-increasing range of national and regional groupings focused on the industry. Following a welcome and introduction by event host Steve Anderson, SPIE’s Industry Development Director, newcomer Mexico opened the event.

Azul Ogazón Gómez, deputy trade and investment commissioner from San Francisco-based government agency Pro Mexico gave an outline of the state of photonics research at Mexico’s key universities and expressed the hope that the country would soon start to launch photonics companies.

The group intends to create a sustainable and competitive photonics ecosystem jointly coordinated between industry, academia and government. The roadmap focuses on four areas: energy, telecommunications and IT, health and medicine, and advanced manufacturing. Gómez said the cluster’s aim is to build strong capabilities in LEDs, optical fiber, photovoltaic cells, lasers and detectors.

Juha Purmonen, CEO of Photonics Finland, introduced his country’s photonics capabilities with the tantalizing invitation, “We don’t need money or ideas, we need partnerships.”

Purmonen noted that most Finnish photonics companies are small with less than €5 million annual turnover; the median company has 15 employees; most companies make systems, instruments and components; and the estimated total annual revenue of photonics business in Finland is over €850 million.”

Representatives of clusters from the Netherlands, Canada, the UK, France, South Australia, Arizona, and elsewhere also gave brief updates.


Challenging unconscious bias in STEM workplaces

Kuehli Dutt

Kuehli Dutt urged the Women In Optics audience
to recognize unconscious bias,
reference the data, and speak up.

“One cannot address a problem if a majority of people don’t believe there is one,” said Kuheli Dutt in a compelling presentation at the Women In Optics reception Monday evening.

Dutt, assistant director for Academic Affairs and Diversity at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, spoke about unconscious bias and STEM diversity to a full room of engaged listeners.

Presenting only a fraction of the research on gender bias in the STEM workplace, Dutt addressed how the natural tendency to develop subconscious biases has led to vast under-representation of women and minorities, and created an environment that favors men.

She outlined recommendations for organizations wanting to create a culture of inclusion: examining search committee procedures; adjusting work-life balance and family-friendly policies; embracing institutional accountability, transparency, and mentoring programs; advocating for visibility; and recognition of women and minorities.

Most importantly, she urged individuals and organizations both to acknowledge that awareness of implicit bias was key to the successful implementation of change.

Dutt also tasked women and minorities in STEM to find their voices to influence awareness. As scientists, she said, “go back to the data” and advocate for yourself and for women in science.


Welcome to the visual, aural, and social world of optics!

SPIE Photonics West 2017 welcome reception

Joey Cobbs Photography

Optics and photonics is not just a multidisciplinary field. It is a multisensory experience as well, as the "Musical Side of Science" theme of Monday evening's welcome reception illustrated. See more photos in our gallery — speaking of which, did you get your photo taken with the band at the welcome reception?


Nanomaterials for drug delivery

Michael Sailor

Michael Sailor 

Nano/Biophotonics plenary speaker Michael Sailor, University of California, San Diego, on Tuesday morning described work in porous silicon nanoparticles as self-reporting drug delivery vehicles, discussing the chemistry and photochemistry of luminescent porous silicon, with emphasis on the self-destruction and reconstruction processes that can be harnessed for various in vitro and in vivo imaging and drug delivery tasks.

Sailor said he likes the term "nanorobots" to explain how his lab's nanomaterials function within the body. Much like programmers use code and electrical circuits with robots, the team uses chemistry to instruct the nanoparticles where to go, what to do once there, and, perhaps most importantly, how long to stick around.

"A targeted nanoparticle is a structure that typically has some kind of an antibody or molecule that the cells you're trying to target want to see," he explained. "For example, when a cancer cell is growing very quickly, that cell is trying to pick up nutrients and other molecules from the blood stream that allow it to grow faster."

Folate is among nutrients sought by growing cancer cells, Sailor explained. "So if you put a folate molecule on your nanoparticle, when it swims around and encounters a cancer cell there is a greater likelihood of it sticking to that cancer cell than to normal cells."

Learn more about Sailor's lab in a video interview with


Large turn-out for Fast Pitch debut

Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch

Sixty people packed into a room at the Park Central Hotel Tuesday afternoon for the inaugural Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch, during which 14 entrepreneurs gave 90-second presentations to investors, advisors, and mentors.

Designed to fill the gap between young, pre-revenue firms supported by the SPIE Startup Challenge and the best-new-product categories recognized by the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation, the Fast Pitch event was sponsored by SPIE and supported by the French Tech Hub and the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. Above, Andrea Belz, Vice Dean, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Viterbi and an instructor for the Startup Challenge, introduces the event’s first pitch.


Diversity Reception is 'just a beginning'

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, diversity reception Diversity reception at SPIE Photonics West 2017

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen of Vanderbilt University (above left), chair of the SPIE ad hoc committee on diversity, opened Tuesday evening’s reception on the topic by laying out the committee’s goal: to increase and enhance diversity; to support any underrepresented group, differently as needed in different parts of the world; and to ensure that the percentages of those being recognized and serving as leaders reflect the society’s demographics.

She tasked the approximately 60 attendees at the reception to each write on flip charts around the room at least one comment to help the committee define its goals and set a strategy. Many offered more, demonstrating the wide range of diversities within the photonics community.

A small sample of suggestions includes:

  • Don’t forget those with disabilities.
  • Provide child care, breastfeeding space, a prayer room.
  • Provide sign language interpretation or closed captioning for plenaries.
  • Reserve a certain number of slots for conference chairs for women and other minorities.
  • Develop relationships with historically black colleges and universities.
  • Create a poster visualizing network effects of bias which impacts diversity.

With the evening’s input, Mahadevan-Jansen said, “Our job has just begun.”


Optics leader Thuringia makes another strong showing 

Glenn Boreman, Karin Burger, Wolfgang Tiefensee

At a reception hosted by the Thuringian Minister for Economic Affairs, Science, and Digital Society and the German Consul General in San Francisco, SPIE representatives met with Thuringian Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and the Lord Mayor of Jena, Albrecht Schröter.

Thuringia, long a leading optics center, sent 35 of the 50 exhibitors featured on the German Stand at the Photonics West Exhibition. The minister had visited the exhibition hall at the opening of the show earlier in the day.

From left, SPIE President Glenn Boreman, SPIE Europe Manager Karin Burger, and Minister Tiefensee.


SITAC reaches out to photonics industry

SITAC advisory group meeting at SPIE Photonics West

SPIE hosted an open session on Wednesday (at right) of the Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The official SITAC meeting included information on current licensing statistics, overview of final regulations for USML Category XII and corresponding CCL, and information  regarding the Notice of Inquiries (NOIs) that are currently open for public comment.

Additionally, SPIE has in conjunction with SITAC formed working groups to receive advisement on technical parameters for export controls applicable to certain technology areas, and to identify new areas within the export control system that are still in need of improvement and develop proposals to make the necessary modifications. Working groups on Lasers, Cameras, and Lenses and Optics met on Thursday during Photonics West.


Dark matter, additive manufacturing, EUV light: LASE plenary talks

Karsten Danzmann LASE plenary at Photonics West

Karsten Danzmann
Alberto Pique LASE plenary at SPIE Photonics West

Alberto Piqué
Hakaru Mizoguchi LASE plenary at SPIE Photonics West

Hakaru Mizoguchi

Karsten Danzmann has dedicated his career to developing technology that could expand our understanding of the universe by detecting gravitational waves emanating from exotic objects in space.

When on 14 September 14 2015 the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) finally did just that, it was such a major breakthrough that it took several days for the LIGO team to accept that it might actually be real, according to Danzmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

A second event was captured in June 2016 at the same two observatories in Washington State and Louisiana.

In a plenary talk Wednesday morning, Danzmann described the developments leading up to that historic moment and new advances that are expected to provide even more discoveries.

Next up, Alberto Piqué, acting head of the Materials and Sensor Branch of the Materials Science Division at the U.S. Naval Research Lab, gave an overview of the current state of the art in using laser-based direct-write (LDW) methods to print hybrid electronics.

“The goal is very simple: can we go from a design to a printed part that is not faithful in a structural sense but in a functional sense?” Piqué posited. “To do that, we need a substrate, we need to wire it up, place the devices, then connect the wires and devices. If you do it right, you end up with a functional circuit.”

Additive manufacturing (AM) considered a game changer for design and fabrication of 3D parts by reducing the number of steps from concept to part, while direct-write processes make it possible to fabricate custom electronics in less time and at lower cost than other techniques. Combining the two paves the way for more efficient and cost-effective printing of hybrid electronics.

Learn more in the video interview with Piqué on

In the final plenary talk, Hakaru Mizoguchi, executive vice president of Gigaphoton, provided an update on the company’s efforts to develop high-power EUV light sources for high-volume manufacturing (HVM) lithography.

In July 2016, Gigaphoton demonstrated 250W light output at 4% conversion efficiency with a laser-produced plasma (LPP) light source prototype for EUV scanners. Since then, Gigaphoton has continued to test and refine its EUV light sources, with a goal of eventually reaching 500W, according to Mizoguchi.

Photolithography equipment manufacturers are keen for a 250W power EUV source to deliver the kind of wafer productivity throughput their customers demand. To achieve these powers, Gigaphoton uses a dual-laser “priming” pulse from a yv04 (vanadate) laser ahead of a nanosecond-duration carbon dioxide blast, plus sub 20 μm micro droplet supply technology, proprietary energy control technology, and magnetic field enabled debris mitigation technology.


Gene therapy technology wins 2017 Startup Challenge

SPIE Startup Challenge 2017 mentors

Harvard University spin-off Cellino was named first-place winner Wednesday afternoon in the SPIE Startup Challenge 2017 finals (see the press release for details).

Six teams of aspiring entrepreneurs advanced from Tuesday afternoon's semi-finals to the finals on Wednesday afternoon, in the competition is supported by Founding Partner Jenoptik and Supporting Sponsors Edmund Optics, Trumpf, Open Photonics, and the U.S. National Science Foundation. (Above, competitors consult with mentors in prepartion for making their pitches.)

For first, second, and third place, finals judges chose:

  • Cellino: gene therapies using lasers and nanofabricated substrates (Marinna Madrid, Nabiha Saklayen)
  • IC Touch: allows blind or visually impaired people to “see” by translation of visual information captured by a camera to (Zeev Zalevsky).
  • Lumedica OQ EyeScope: accessible, afford medical technologies as consumer electronics (Scott Whitney, Adam Wax, Bill Brown, Michael Crose)

Other finalists were:

  • TriLite Technologies: RGB Laser Light Module for AR/VR: ultra-compact RGB MEMS laser scanner for AR and VR applications (Jörg Reitterer)
  • Fresh Strips: ensuring quality for food (Koen Nickmans)
  • Fastree3D: 3D vision with a LIDAR system on chip (Claude Florin)

During semi-final competition earlier in the week, Rick Schwerdtfeger, Director of the NSF SBIR/STTR Photonics Division, presented travel awards to Luis Moutinho of the Universidade de Aveiro and NU-RISE, and Marinna Madrid and Nabiha Saklayen of Harvard and Cellino (winners pictured below with Startup Challenge organizer Dirk Fabian of SPIE).

Congratulations to all the teams!

Nabiha Saklayen and Marinna Madrid with Startup Challenge organizer Dirk Fabian of SPIE

Nabiha Saklayen (left), Marinna Madrid, Dirk Fabian
Luis Moutinho with Startup Challenge organizer Dirk Fabian of SPIE

Luis Moutinho and Dirk Fabian


Gala night for photonics innovation: the Prism Awards

Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation 2017

This year's Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation were presented Wednesday evening to nine companies (including Nufern, above, with presenter Katharine Schmidtke of Facebook at right). See full details in the press release — congratulations to all!


Doing business in the U.S.: engaging with the new Administration

Photonics West 2017 exhibitor breakfast

Public affairs specialists Josh Holly and Beth Inadomi of the Podesta Group outlined strategies for successfully working with the new Administration under U.S. President Donald Trump and celebrated some recent policy successes for photonics, in a presentation following Thursday’s exhibitor breakfast (above).

The group works with the National Photonics Initiative, of which SPIE is a Founding Sponsor, in support of science-related issues.

Holly outlined strategies for working with the Administration: identifying and tuning into key themes, knowing who key influencers and decision makers are, taking advantage of the Administration’s aggressive agenda and schedule, and engaging, via social media and otherwise.

Inadomi listed several recent Congressional enactments signed by President Obama as successes toward which the NPI and associated society and company members have worked, including:

  • National Defense Authorization Act inclusion of positive language on directed energy, continued funding for advanced manufacturing including AIM Photonics, and five-year reauthorization of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer
  • American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (COMPETES) including optics and photonics provision
  • 21st Century Cures Act including 10-year authorization for cancer research, with a white paper and technology roadmap for the Cancer Moonsot; and 10-year authorization for the BRAIN Initiative, with an optics and photonics technology roadmap and government, industry and university meetings, and SBIR opportunities at the National Institutes of Health
  • Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act including positive language on advanced manufacturing.

Video and slides from the presentation are available on


Making a better world with Schott glass — and shot glasses

Schott Glass and Project Night Night

Exhibitor Schott once again this year used the popularity of its give-away shot glasses to raise money for Project Night Night, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to help homeless children, reducing their trauma and advancing their emotional and cognitive well-being. Exhibition visitors were invited to contribute a donation when picking up one of the latest of the optics glass-maker's popular shot glasses, and the company matched contributions. The final tally on Thursday afternoon was $2,500. Cheers, Schott and Project Night Night!


Contributors: Adam Resnick, Alison Walker, Amy Nelson, Andrew Brown, Bjorn Thorpe, Dirk Fabian, Emily Power, Heather Schutzler, Karen Thomas, Karin Burger, Kathy Sheehan, Kevin Probasco, Peter Hallett, Stacey Crockett, Tasha Chicovsky

Photos © SPIE except as noted.

Quick Links

Ronald Waynant Tribute

BiOS Expo

Lung Health

BiOS Hot Topics

Translational Research

Lunch with the experts

Charting a Course in Photonics

Fluorescence-guided Surgery Panel

Safer Surgeries: Bell & Hensley

Neurotechnology Plenaries

SPIE Awards & New Fellows

OPTO Plenaries

Photonics Cluster Reception

Women In Optics

Welcome Reception

Nano/Biophotonics Plenary

Fast Pitch Lunch

Diversity Reception

Thuringian Reception

SITAC Session

LASE Plenaries

Startup Challenge

Prism Awards

Engaging with a new Administration

Schott Fundraiser


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