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SPIE Professional July 2013

SPIE 2013 Optics + Photonics

Conferences will cover the search for technologies of the future.

By Karen Thomas

As research and exploration programs such as the NASA Curiosity Rover and the Kepler telescope look for habitable planets and signs of life other than our own, the question, “Are we alone?” is becoming more common.

Logo for SPIE O+PThis question and others will be examined at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013, 25-29 August in San Diego, CA (USA). More than 4500 attendees will have access to more than 3200 papers on the latest research in emerging optics and photonics technologies as well as technical and networking events, a three-day industry exhibition, job fair, and professional development activities for students.

In sessions open to all attendees, 19 plenary speakers discuss technologies covered by the four symposia: NanoScience + Engineering; Solar Energy + Technology; Organic Photonics + Electronics; and Optical Engineering + Applications.

SPIE Professional magazine cover for 2013 July Plenary speakers will include SPIE Fellow and 2013 SPIE Gold Medal recipient Federico Capasso of Harvard University (USA) and SPIE Fellow and former SPIE president Joseph B. Houston of Houston Research Associates (USA).

Capasso, co-inventor of the quantum cascade laser, will speak on “Molding Optical Wavefronts: Flat Optics based on Metasurfaces.” Houston and colleagues will discuss in two presentations the optical technologies behind the Red Bull Stratos Project, a record-breaking “skydive” from the stratosphere.

Are we alone in the universe?

Two symposium-wide plenary sessions and other presentations will highlight ongoing research in astronomy and optics technologies.

Asteroids and comets that cross Earth’s orbit could have severe consequences to our planet and its inhabitants if they impact the Earth. Most of the strategies proposed for dealing with these potential hazards entail dedicated missions to eradicate each object. One of those missions includes the Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation (DE-STAR), a solar-powered, modular-phased array of lasers designed to heat the surface of possibly threatening objects to the point of evaporation.

In his plenary talk, “DE-STAR: A Planetary Defense and Exploration System,” Philip M. Lubin of the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA), will discuss this orbital planetary defense system that could ward off potentially dangerous objects in space.

The Kepler Mission, NASA’s undertaking to search for potentially habitable planets, will be the topic of a plenary talk by Jon Jenkins of the SETI Institute at NASA Ames Research Center (USA). Jenkins will discuss the challenges of designing and building the Kepler photometer and its software systems along with the flood of data that Kepler has gathered since its launch in March 2009. Kepler’s accomplishments include discovery of more than 2700 candidate planets.

Despite a major malfunction to the spacecraft in May, scientists still have about two years’ worth of data to examine.

In another astronomy-related talk, Roger C. Wiens of the Los Alamos National Lab (USA) will discuss the laser-based remote-sensing device on the Curiosity Rover in the Optical Engineering + Applications plenary session.

Red Bull Stratos skydive

The plenary session on Tuesday 27 August will be chaired by Houston and SPIE President-Elect H. Philip Stahl of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (USA).

A pioneer in telescope design, fabrication, and testing for more than 50 years, Houston contributed to the Stratos Project as an optical engineering resource expert. Houston will explain how the Stratos Project enabled Austrian Felix Baumgartner to skydive from 127,852 feet in October 2012, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall.

Then, Stratos Project team members Dennis Fisher of Genesis Applied Imaging (USA) and Jay Nemeth of FlightLine Films (USA) will detail the work of the optical imaging scientists who spent more than four years developing and testing the necessary systems and equipment to capture  Baumgartner’s historic leap.

The group from FlightLine Films that brought the launch and imaging tracking vehicle from the project to IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging in February will bring the vehicle to the exhibition floor during SPIE Optics + Photonics to show how they captured the skydive on camera.

Keynote talk on new developments in plasmonics

SPIE Fellow Naomi Halas of Rice University (USA), one of the world’s most-cited experts in nanophotonics and a pioneering researcher in the field of plasmonics, will give a keynote presentation at the Plasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and Their Optical Properties conference.

Her presentation, “Light-induced liquid-vapor phase transitions: solar steam generation using nanoparticles,” will cover groundbreaking technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. First unveiled by Halas in 2012, this “solar steam” method produces steam from cold water. The technology is designed for future sanitation and water-purification applications in the developing world.

Halas, a professor of biomedical engineering, chemistry, physics, and astronomy who was recently elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, will also chair a session on plasmonic enhancement in the conference, which will feature presentations on metal plasmonic nanoparticle arrays, plasmonic nano-antennas, and nanoplasmonic Fano resonances.

SPIE Women in Optics: Fitting in

photo of Kathy PerkinsThe speaker at the SPIE Women in Optics presentation and reception on Monday 26 August will be Kathy Perkins, director of PhET Interactive Simulations at University of Colorado Boulder (USA). The PhET (Physics Education Technology) program creates free, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena where students can engage in scientist-like exploration to make sense of the underlying science.

The 127 simulations cover physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and other areas. The simulations are used more than 40 million times a year by students from grade school through graduate school worldwide.

In, “Finding the Right Fit: From Atmospheric Scientist to Educating the Next Generation of Scientists Worldwide,” Perkins will discuss her current work with PhET as well as career path ideas and lessons.

Attendees will learn how science education is changing based on the latest research on how students learn.

“It’s an exciting and rewarding time to work in science education,” says Perkins, who was profiled in the 2013-14 SPIE Women in Optics calendar. “Leveraging new technologies, PhET’s interactive simulations are transforming how science is taught and learned in classrooms across the U.S. and all around the world.”

Tribute Conference to H. John Caulfield

On Wednesday 28 August, an all-day special conference will pay tribute to the late H. John Caulfield’s pioneering contributions to holography and information optics with some 20 papers pertaining to the many areas of research in which Caulfield excelled.

Caulfield, an SPIE Fellow, first joined SPIE in 1970 and served in several roles including secretary, symposia committee vice president, and editor of SPIE’s flagship journal, Optical Engineering. His accomplishments were acknowledged by SPIE with the President’s Award (1977), the Directors’ Award (1984), and the Dennis Gabor Award (1994).

In 2005, he received the SPIE Gold Medal in recognition of his numerous contributions to holography, imaging, optical computing, and optical logic. His numerous inventions include local reference beam holography, coherence-gated imaging, generalized matched filters, optical linear algebra, fuzzy optical metrology, artificial color, and passive conservative interferometric logic gates.

In a 2005 article on Caulfield in SPIE’s oemagazine, John L. Johnson, then command group science adviser for U.S. Army Europe who collaborated with Caulfield on projects in the 1990s, spoke of what he called “The Caulfield Approach.”

While giving a lecture Johnson attended, Caulfield had drawn a circle on the blackboard and told the attendees: “This is the area of all of the knowledge Man has discovered.” Caulfield then “drew a dot on the board, far away the circle, Johnson said.

“By processes of creativity, perhaps the subconscious, or by some inspiration, we have a new idea, and it is out here, not connected to the general body of knowledge,” Caulfield said. “So we jump, landing in this new place apart from all that we have known before. What do we do?”

Caulfield then drew a long wavering line from the isolated point back to the circle. “We reason our way back and connect our idea to everything else.”

Caulfield next drew an arrow pointing from the body of knowledge to the new point. “But what we publish is this,” he said. “The logical path that steps us to the new place in well-connected links. Everyone thinks we did it by extraordinary reasoning, plodding across one tightly-reasoned link to the next, while in fact we soared across the empty space!”

“What John did not say,” Johnson said, “was that when most people soar, they land in places that you can’t connect back to the big circle. John’s flights land in the right places, and that is one of his great gifts.”

Life in the Cosmos

In the continuing search for life on other planets, SPIE Fellow Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist at Athens State University (USA) and the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (UK), has led scientific expeditions to search for microbial extremophiles, organisms that can live in extreme conditions. Hoover’s work shows that there really could be something out there.

On Tuesday 27 August, Hoover and Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the Buckingham Centre, will convene a panel of well-known speakers in the popular “Life in the Cosmos” session. This year’s panel will review recent discoveries in astronomy, microbiology, and astrobiology and discuss their implications with the audience.

In preparation for the Life in the Cosmos discussion and other astronomy related sessions, all registered attendees are invited to attend the welcome reception and “Star Party” on Monday evening, 26 August to view the San Diego night sky. A variety of telescopes set up by the San Diego Astronomy Club will be available for those who want to learn about different styles of telescopes, share their interest in astronomy, and join in the continuing search for what’s out there.

Professional development and courses for optics researchers

More than 40 courses and workshops for students, experienced researchers, educators, and others are available during the week.

In addition to half-day, whole-day, and multiple-day courses on optical design, metrology, nanoscience, astronomical instrumentation, and related topics, new courses will cover the proper care of optics, lens design methods, spectroscopic ellipsometry, and introductory electro-optical design. Cost and credit availability vary.

For those interested in career advancement, networking and other free events include an informal session on Tuesday on how SPIE involvement can enhance your career and a professional-skills workshop for students and early-career professionals on Sunday morning.

SPIE Annual Meeting and events for SPIE members

The Annual General Meeting of SPIE will be held at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina at 6 p.m., Tuesday, 27 August, during SPIE Optics + Photonics. Topics will include the results of the 2013 SPIE election, a report on the “State of the Society,” and a Q & A with SPIE officers. All SPIE members are encouraged to attend.

The meeting will be followed by a members-only reception at 7 p.m.

New Fellows will be introduced at the SPIE Fellows luncheon earlier in the day. Harry Atwater of the California Institute of Technology (USA) will give a presentation on the past, present and “abundant future” of solar energy at the luncheon. Fellows planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Brent Johnson.

The SPIE Senior Member breakfast and the 2013 Annual Awards banquet will be Wednesday, 28 August. Learn more about award winners elsewhere in this issue.

Student events at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Students at SPIE Optics + Photonics have an opportunity to meet peers and professionals in the fields of optics and photonics beginning Saturday 24 August at the Student Chapter Leadership Workshop.

The Optics Outreach Games on Sunday 25 August will feature networking and learning opportunities during a friendly competition among SPIE Student Chapters who have developed optics and photonics educational outreach projects.

At the Lunch with the Experts on Monday 26 August, students can enjoy a casual meal with colleagues and professionals who share their experiences in choosing a career path in optics and photonics.

Student Chapter exhibits, many on programs to increase science awareness and literacy, will be grouped together in the exhibition hall Tuesday through Thursday.

Email students@spie.org for more information about student events.

Find more information. about SPIE Optics + Photonics and follow the news from San Diego.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201307.27

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