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SPIE Professional January 2011

Photonics for a Better World

Optical and photonics technologies have improved and restored vision to people with degenerative eye conditions and are used in water reclamation programs.

The team that developed the Argus II retinal implant has been recognized with a Popular Mechanics 2010 Breakthrough Award.

The Argus II retinal implant, which also won an R&D 100 Editors’ Choice Award in 2009, is designed to restore vision to people who are blind because of degenerative retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. There are millions of people in the world with degenerative retinal diseases.

The device takes images from an external video camera and sends electric signals to an array implanted in the eye, bypassing damaged photoreceptors to kick-start retinal cells that are still viable.

Six U.S. national labs, four universities, and a commercial partner are continuing to develop technologies that will enable third- and fourth-generation models of the retinal implant that could provide enough resolution to read 24-point font and recognize faces.


Photograph courtesy of Elinor Carucci

Tester donates solar panels

TÜV Rheinland PTL, a provider of safety and performance testing and market certification for the photovoltaic and solar thermal marketplace, has donated more than 50 solar panels for an Arizona water reclamation facility.

The town of Chino Valley is just the latest of numerous organizations in Arizona that have benefitted from TÜV’s solar panel donation program. TÜV has been recycling modules from its facilities for 12 years because they no longer have commercial value after testing. Per an agreement between TÜV and the manufacturers, the tested panels are donated for educational or nonprofit purposes, primarily to expand awareness and share the benefits of renewable energy.

Chino Valley’s water reclamation facility uses microfiltration processes and tertiary treatment to produce class A+ effluent for replenishing the groundwater aquifer.

The town plans to expand its promotion of clean and renewable energy with the solar panels.


SPIE Smart Structures

SPIE Smart Structures/NDE meetingOrganizers of the Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) conference at SPIE Smart Structures and Non-Destructive Evaluation in San Diego (USA) will hold an EAP-in-Action session 7 March.

This session, chaired by SPIE Fellow Yoseph Bar-Cohen, will highlight the latest capabilities and applications of EAP materials where the attendees are shown demonstrations of these materials in action. Also, the attendees interact directly with technology developers and are given "hands-on" experience with this emerging technology.

Thomas Sugar, the Arizona State University associate professor who has created a mechanical ankle that uses artificial intelligence to store and release energy in the joint like a spring, will give a keynote talk during the session.

The symposium, held 6-10 March, is a multidisciplinary forum that seeks to advance research in adaptive structures and mechanisms, smart sensors, NDE, civil infrastructure, aerospace systems, energy harvesting, and more.

More than 950 presentations will be made in these areas:

  • Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication
  • Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD)
  • Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems
  • Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials and Composites
  • Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies
  • Nano-, Bio-, Info-Tech Sensors and Systems
  • Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems
  • Smart Sensor Phenomena, Technology, Networks, and Systems
  • Nondestructive Characterization for Composite Materials, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, and Homeland Security
  • Health Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems
  • Special Session on Wind Energy Applications

More information


Tell us your story

Articles in our Photonics for a Better World series highlight optics and photonics technologies that bring tangible gains to humanity.

Do you have a story to tell about the work that you or colleagues do to make the world a better place? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org

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

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201101.18

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