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SPIE Professional October 2008

SPIE Looks Green

Forums throughout the world sponsored by SPIE advance the enabling technologies that support the "greening" of the planet.

Green technologies have a growing number of applications in everyday life: tracking gigantic weather systems from space, using nanoparticles in factory cooling systems, and providing new sustainable energy and lighting sources, to name a few.

Optics and photonics technologies play an important part in this "greening" of our planet as researchers and engineers work to meet global demand for energy, to better predict weather patterns, to monitor and understand climate impacts of wildfires, and to develop safe uses for nanotechnology.

Forums throughout the world sponsored by SPIE advance the enabling technologies that support development of these and other applications.

SPIE exhibitions also support sustainable technologies, bringing researchers together with suppliers and developers of innovative technologies in an environment that supports creative problem-solving and progress for both.

Remote Observations

SPIE APOC symposium logoIn Nouméa, New Caledonia, 17-21 November, conferences at SPIE Asia-Pacific Remote Sensing will focus on modeling of trends in the atmosphere and oceans based on remote sensing of inland, coastal, and oceanic waters. Studies based on this research show how unique biodiversity and reef ecosystems may be threatened by climate change and effects of human activity.

One conference will discuss societal benefits of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) implementation plan established at the Earth Observation Summit in 2003. The plan grew out of an international consensus that many basic societal needs require continuous and coordinated observation of the Earth from many perspectives. The plan currently is organized to deliver results for nine GEOSS areas: disaster reduction, health, energy, weather, climate, water, ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture, and combating desertification.

Enabling Solar

Conferences on enabling technologies for solar are planned for SPIE Photonics West in January 2009 and will include:

• Organic Photonic Materials and Devices (polymer solar cells and photodetectors)

• Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices (solar cells)

• Laser-Based Micro- and Nano-Packaging and Assembly (laser processing for fabrication of environmentally friendly devices, such as high-brightness white LEDs, light-weight, thin-film solar cells, advanced batteries, etc.)

• Physics and Simulation of Optoelectronic Devices (materials for optoelectronic devices; wide bandgap semiconductors, e.g., lasers, LEDs, detectors, solar cells, etc.; band structure, band offsets, gain and recombination in II-VI and nitride-based III-V structures, materials and microstructures for mid-infrared optoelectronic devices)

In 2010, these continuing conferences in SPIE Photonics West move to the San Francisco Moscone Center, which has 60,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels.

Recent Events

SPIE Europe Remote Sensing logoTwo conferences in the UK in September brought together scientists whose research is aimed at understanding climate change and designing highly efficient illumination devices. At the time this issue went to press, Waleed Abdalati, head of NASA's Cryospheric Sciences Branch at Goddard Space Flight Center (USA), was scheduled to offer insights at a SPIE Europe Remote Sensing plenary session on how and why polar ice is changing, and what the changes may mean. Airborne and space-based views of Earth and other innovative tools have been important in advancing understanding of polar ice, providing context as well as information for understanding what these changes may mean for life on Earth.

Conferences on remote sensing of clouds and the atmosphere and for agriculture, ecosystems, and hydrology at this symposium in Cardiff, Wales, are intended to increase scientists' ability to analyze effects of climate change on agricultural crops, assess soil moisture, and track weather systems.

A new conference on illumination optics was also created for SPIE Europe Optical Systems Design in Glasgow, Scotland. Featured papers accepted for the conference focus on advancing technologies for optimization and system design as well as insights on LED and EUVL applications.

Annually Green

At SPIE Optics+Photonics in August in San Diego, CA (USA), many of the annual conferences had a decidedly green hue and several plenary speakers made presentations about renewable energy.

Several conferences addressed advances in sustainable technologies for solar and alternative energy systems, covering solar cells, concentrators, and other components for solar-power generation systems, and an all-conference plenary presentation by Richard King, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, received much attention (including a SPIE Newsroom interview with King). In the competition, 20 college and university teams design, build, and operate an attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

Remote sensing conferences promoted new capabilities for detecting fire and weather systems, and new technologies to increase airplane stability and improve the ability to avoid hazards.

Sensing for agricultural applications was also prominent at SPIE Optics+Photonics. Technologies for assessing water resources and soil moisture and for analyzing changes in crops and forest vegetation were presented in a conference on Remote Sensing and Modeling of Ecosystems for Sustainability. Conferences on atmospheric and environmental remote sensing also covered new developments in collection of data gathered by satellites and other sources.

Nanoscience plenary and conference speakers reported on the use of naturally occurring materials in fabrication of nanomaterials for tiny sensors and devices. A wide range of nanoscience, nano-engineering, and photonics technologies that enable potential applications of nanotechnology, such as increased functionality of semiconductors, was also presented.

Featured speakers in sessions on solid-state lighting and organic light-emitting diodes looked at trends and opportunities in the marketplace for new, more affordable lighting as well as in more efficient components in computers, television screens, and other applications. Dave Irvine-Halliday, cofounder of the Light Up The World Foundation, was one such speaker, describing how the developing world has made use of inexpensive lighting solutions from LEDs. A video interview with Irvine-Halliday is posted on the SPIE Newsroom.

Other "Green" Events
  • A conference on metrology for energy and environmentally friendly production will be part of SPIE Europe's Optical Metrology symposium 14-18 June 2009 in Munich, Germany.
  • Optics in Environmental Science will be the theme for the 2009 annual ICTP Winter College in January. The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) fosters the advancement of research in the physical sciences by hosting this annual event in Trieste, Italy. SPIE is among co-sponsors, contributing funds for support of the Winter College and other optics activities and providing the ICTP with free access to the SPIE Digital Library. SPIE has suggested the 2010 Winter College focus on optics and energy.
  • Innovation experts will focus on the markets for solar technology, biophotonics, and LEDs at an all-day SPIE Photonics Innovation Summit 6 November in California.


SPIE has made an investment in cost-efficient, sustainable energy by installing a 15 kW solar electric system on the roof of its headquarters in the USA.

"Developing and deploying sustainable energy sources is vitally important for today's economy and for managing resources for the long-term future," said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. "Having been involved in promoting research on solar energy throughout the world for many years, we are very happy to be plugging the results of that research into our local electric grid."

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at SPIEprofessional@spie.org 

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200810.46

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