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SPIE Professional January 2015

Photonics West

Multifaceted conference celebrates Nobel Prize winners

By Rich Donnelly

SPIE Photonics West 2015, 7-12 February in San Francisco, will present the latest in light-driven technologies from biomedical diagnostics to developments in efficient high-power lasers.

One of this year’s most prominent themes at Photonics West became obvious in October 2014, with the announcement of the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry.

Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell, and William Moerner — all familiar faces at Photonics West and other SPIE events — shared the chemistry prize for their work on super-resolution microscopy.


The STED microscopy (circular inset image) provides approximately ten times sharper details of filament structures within a nerve cell compared to a conventional light microscope (outer image).
© Picture and sample: G. Donnert, S. W. Hell; Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Hell’s approach is based on stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, which he developed in 2000. With one laser beam stimulating fluorescent molecules to glow, and another canceling out most of the fluorescence, an image beyond the diffraction limit is created. Betzig and Moerner worked separately on the single-molecule spectroscopy method, in which the fluorescence of individual molecules is controlled. Just a few molecules are imaged during successive scans. Combining the images yields a dense composite image.

SPIE Fellow James Fujimoto, Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) chair at Photonics West, sees the Nobel Prize as an important recognition of the impact of not just a distant theoretical discovery, but work that leads directly to saving lives.

“I think this recognizes not only the powerful impact that nanoscopy has had to date, but also the potential for accelerating the pace of fundamental biological and medical research in the future,” Fujimoto says. “These advances will have a profound impact on improving health care and reducing human suffering.”

Moerner, recently promoted to the rank of SPIE Fellow and a presenter at SPIE events for the past 25 years, will give a keynote talk at Photonics West: “Extracting information from single molecules in 3D super-resolution imaging and from dynamical processes in solution” as part of the Single Molecule Spectroscopy and Superresolution Imaging conference.

Betzig is coauthor of “Extended resolution structured illumination imaging of dynamic process in living cells” in the same conference. Both of these laureates are coauthors of additional papers at BiOS this year. In addition, they will speak at a Sunday evening plenary session chaired by SPIE Fellow Bruce Tromberg, Beckman Laser Institute director at UC Irvine.

Tromberg is also chair of this year’s Translational Research virtual symposium, highlighting technologies with a potential near-term impact on healthcare. He says that the Nobel Prize illustrates the importance of fundamental principles of optics and photonics. “Their impact has extended deeply into biology and medicine through innovative concepts and multidisciplinary collaborations.”

Daniel Farkas, CEO of Spectral Molecular Imaging and chair of the BiOS program track on Biomedical Spectroscopy, Microscopy and Imaging, echoed Fujimoto’s comments about the importance of the Nobel Prize. “The microscope is, for good reasons, an icon of the sciences, and in the hands of these innovative scientists and their followers, it has been enhanced to better probe and reveal the intricacies of living matter, down to the molecular level.” Nine conferences in that program track cover the latest developments in biomedical imaging techniques.

Attend BiOS 2015BiOS, the world’s largest international biomedical optics symposium, begins on Saturday, 7 February. That evening features the popular Hot Topics session, facilitated by SPIE Member Sergio Fantini, where experts from across the spectrum of biophotonics give short updates about exciting advances in their technologies. (See BiOS Hot Topics below.)

Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel excitement at Photonics West is not confined to microscopy alone. This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, Shuji Nakamura and honored for their “invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” All three have contributed to papers in the OPTO symposium at Photonics West.

“The invention of the blue light-emitting diode is a unique milestone in the history of technologies,” said SPIE Member Klaus Streubel, head of corporate technology for lighting manufacturer OSRAM AG. “By ‘taming’ the gallium nitride material system, it was possible to close the last gap in the visible spectrum of LEDs. LEDs have already penetrated basically all of our daily life, and in a few years, white LEDs will dominate general illumination.” Streubel is chair of the annual conference “Light-Emitting Diodes: Materials, Devices, and Applications for Solid State Lighting” at Photonics West.

All three of the Physics laureates have a long history with SPIE, and each is an author of two papers at Photonics West this year. All of the laureates’ papers are in the conference Gallium Nitride Materials and Devices X, which runs 9-12 February.

Another Nobel winner, the 2013 laureate in Medicine, will also be in the house. Thomas Südhof will present a Neurophotonics plenary talk on Tuesday, 10 February at 2 pm. “The Neurexin Enigma – from Synapse Formation to Schizophrenia” will look at recent studies aimed at understanding how neurexins and their ligands are associated with brain disorders.

Attend OPTO 2015OPTO highlights solar power

The OPTO symposium includes topical program tracks on Photonic Integration, MOEMS-MEMS, Semiconductor Lasers and LEDs, and others including content in the virtual symposia on Green Photonics and 3D Printing (See “3D printing reaches critical mass at SPIE Photonics West,” in SPIE Professional, October 2014).

Chairs for the OPTO symposium are SPIE Fellows David L. Andrews of University of East Anglia Norwich (UK) and Alexei L. Glebov of OptiGrate Corp. (USA). Co-chairs are SPIE Fellow Shibin Jiang of AdValue Photonics (USA) and Jean Emmanuel Broquin of IMEP-LAHC (France).

A 2013 study by Credit Suisse concluded that United States energy growth over the next decade will be achieved with 85 percent renewables. Solar production, said the report, will increase to 11 times its current level, and by 2025 approximately 12 percent of electricity generation will come from wind and solar.

More recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) looked farther ahead and issued a roadmap showing that photovoltaic solar could deliver 16 percent and solar thermal 11 percent of the world’s electricity in 35 years. Both reports cited cost reductions due to technology advances as a major driver of the expansion. Those advances are evident at Photonics West.

Attend the SPIE Green Photonics virtual symposiumA key component of the Green Photonics virtual symposium, solar technologies have an increasing presence at Photonics West. Green Photonics chair and SPIE Fellow Stephen Eglash of Stanford University (USA) says important topics related to solar include nanophotonics, light management, and engineered optical structures. There are papers on GaAs and other III-V materials, Si, organic and dye-sensitized, hybrid organic/Si nanowire, carbon nanotube, hot carriers, ZnO, and others.

“The range of photovoltaic technologies being investigated and reported at Photonics West is extraordinarily broad,” Eglash says.

Eglash also points out “many papers on batteries, providing strong evidence of the importance of improved batteries — for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and grid-scale storage.” Laser-processing techniques hold great promise for developing superior anodes, cathodes, and other battery materials. “Batteries are hugely exciting and more important all the time,” he says.

Attend LASE 2015LASE highlights

The LASE symposium brings together a broad range of laser-related technologies including laser source engineering, nonlinear optics, laser micro/nanoengineering, and more.

Wednesday’s LASE plenaries begin with Donald Cornwell, Jr., of NASA Space Communications and Navigation Program talking about NASA’s optical communications program, working toward the Deep-space Optical Terminal for communications to Mars and beyond.

Next, Jens Limpert of Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, will discuss “Coherent Combination of Ultrafast Laser Pulses: A Route to Joule-Class High Repetition Rate Femtosecond Lasers.” The third LASE plenary, by Xiaoyan Zeng of China’s Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics (see article on Optics Valley), is on ”Laser 3D Printing of Metallic Components and its Industrial Applications.”

Friedheim Dorsch, chair of the LASE conference on High-power Laser Materials Processing, highlights exciting developments to be presented from automakers and others in laser joining of dissimilar materials. Advances in this area “enable lightweight construction of cars and other vehicles to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions,” says Dorsch.

Symposium chairs for LASE are SPIE Fellow Yongfeng Lu of University of Nebraska Lincoln (USA) and Guido Hennig of Daetwyler Graphics (Switzerland). SPIE Fellows Andreas Tünnermann of Fraunhofer-IOF (Germany) and Friedrich-Schiller University (Germany), and Bo Gu of Bos Photonics (USA) are LASE symposium co-chairs.

Two major exhibitions

Beyond the technical events, for many Photonics West attendees the big draw is the exhibit hall. The symposium features two exhibitions – the BiOS Expo on the opening weekend, 7-8 February; and the Photonics West Exhibition on 10-12 February.

The Photonics West Exhibition is the largest in North America, with 1,250 exhibiting companies spread over more than 400,000 square feet of space. Smaller but no less impressive, the BiOS Expo is the world’s largest biomedical optics exhibit, with more than 230 exhibitors booked for this year.

Exhibit-only attendees have access to both exhibitions and an array of industry events. Panel discussions will cover topics for individuals, startups and small companies ranging from financing businesses in life sciences and healthcare to marketing and to what startups need to be successful.

Workshops covering export control regulations, including ITAR regulations and the U.S. Munitions List Category XII proposed rule changes, will also provide valuable information for small businesses.

Highlighting the industry program, an Industry Keynote talk on 10 February at 12:30 pm will feature Mario Paniccia talking on “Silicon Photonics for a New Era of Scalable Bandwidth.” SPIE Fellow Paniccia, general manager of Intel’s Silicon Photonics Group and Data Center Group, will present Intel’s perspective and trends for fundamental changes to data centers — including server architecture, “the rack”, networking, and pooled resources — enabled by silicon photonic interconnects and wafer-scale integration.

2015 SPIE Startup Challenge

The Startup Challenge is a lively, interactive “pitch competition” in which new entrepreneurs in photonics have just three minutes to pitch their idea to a team of expert judges. The winner will receive $10,000 in cash from founding partner JENOPTIK and $5,000 worth of equipment. The lead sponsor is Hamamatsu, and supporting sponsors are TRUMPF, Edmund Optics, and Open Photonics.


Courtesy of Joey Cobbs

The event runs in the late afternoon on 11 February.

Above, 2014 winner Robert McLaughlin of the University of Western Australia shows the winning product, a miniaturized optical coherence tomography (OCT) probe.

Job Fair at Photonics West

Whether you’re looking for a better job, re-entering the workforce or just starting out, plan to visit the SPIE Job Fair at Photonics West in San Francisco 10-11 February.

Admission is free to those with technical conference or exhibition badges for Photonics West, and all services through the SPIE Career Center are free to individuals seeking employment. Recruiters from top optics and photonics companies will be available to discuss current and future job openings onsite at the Moscone Center.

Over the years, SPIE has worked with more than 3000 companies, recruiters, and research institutions to help find technicians, technical sales people, scientists, and engineers.

Can’t make it to the Job Fair in person? Go online to post your resume at spie.org/careercenter

BiOS Hot Topics

The BiOS symposium will open with the presentation of the 2015 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award to SPIE Fellow Lihong Wang of Washington University in St. Louis (USA). Wang is being recognized for his pioneering technical contributions and visionary leadership in the development and application of photo-acoustic tomography, photoacoustic microscopy, and photon transport modeling.

He will then speak on “Photon-Phonon Synergy: Photoacoustic Tomography and Beyond.”

Other BiOS speakers and their topics include:

  • Vadim Backman, Northwestern University (USA), “Cancer Screening and Nanoscale Cytology”
  • Brett Bouma, Wellman Center for Photomedicine (USA), “Endoscopic OCT”
  • David Roberts, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (USA), “Fluorescence-guided Resection of Intracranial Tumor”
  • SPIE member Peter So, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), “Nonlinear Microscopy”
  • SPIE member Paola Taroni, Politecnico di Milano (Italy), “Optical Assessment of Collagen and Breast Cancer”
  • Rafael Yuste, Columbia University (USA), “Simultaneous Imaging of Neural Activity in 3D”
Student events at Photonics West

Photonics West offers several opportunities for students to extend their network, learn from experts in their fields, and start building a career.

  • Lunches with the Experts: The chance to meet and talk with experienced (and sometimes legendary) photonics professionals is a golden opportunity for students at Photonics West. Two Student Lunches with the Experts are planned: one in conjunction with BiOS on Sunday, 8 February, and one symposium-wide lunch on Tuesday, 10 February. The experts will share their experience and wisdom on career paths in optics and photonics. Both lunches begin at 12:30, but seating is limited and attendance is first come, first served.
  • SPIE Student Chapter Leadership Workshop: Student chapter leaders from around the world meet to discuss student chapter problem solving, SPIE student chapter news and benefits, and professional development. Other student chapter events include a dinner for professional development and networking, and an info session on student chapter programs and benefits.
  • “No Ties” Student Social: At this popular event, students can relax and meet with new friends at an off-site venue.
ITAR list rewrite will impact photonics

image for ITAR roundtableThe rewrite of Category XII of the US Munitions List (USML) is part of the Administration’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative. The USML contains the items controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which has stricter export requirements than the Commerce Control List (CCL). Category XII of the USML covers much of the optic and photonic commodities and components controlled under ITAR regulations.

There are 10 Category XII subcommittees addressing: cyocoolers; image intensified tubes and cameras; EMCCD devices and cameras; lasers; optics; Readout Integrated Circuits (ROICs); SWIR FPAs and cameras; uncooled FPAs, camera cores, cameras, and systems; cooled cameras; guidance, navigation and gyros; and stabilized platforms/gimbals.

Publication of the proposed regulation for this category in the Federal Register is expected by early 2015, with an open community comment period to be announced in the Federal Register. Category XII is important not only to the military and industry, but also to research universities that accept Department of Defense funding and manage the unique challenge of complying with all categories of controls.

A roundtable discussion will take place at SPIE Photonics West 2015 to collect input on areas of concern. Both US and non-US organizations that deal with ITAR related issues are encouraged to participate. Industry representatives and others interested in the impact of the USML rule changes can also attend the roundtable at 5 pm Tuesday, 10 February.

Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation

logo for Prism AwardsPerhaps the highlight of a busy week in San Francisco is the Prism Awards ceremony and banquet, where SPIE and Photonics Media recognize the most innovative technologies in the optics and photonics industry that break conventional ideas, solve problems, and improve life through photonics.

The gala evening takes place 11 February and requires an advance ticket.

Finalists in nine categories were announced in November 2014. See the list of Prism finalists.


DOI: 10.1117/2.4201501.21

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