Winners of the 2011 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation were announced 25 January 2012 during SPIE Photonics Westin San Francisco. Awards were presented in nine categories for photonic products that challenge conventional ideas, solve problems, and improve life through the generation and harnessing of light.
Small and medium-sized SMEs and startups had a strong showing in the "Oscars of Photonics" this year while the award presenters included successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists active in the photonics business, such as Tim Day from Daylight Solutions, seasoned investor Larry Marshall from Southern Cross Venture Partners, and Laura Smoliar from Peppertree Engineering.
During the awards ceremony, Marshall in particular noted that innovations being honored were the kinds of devices and systems that would help many countries develop their way out of economic torpor.
Marshall's message to those innovators was to "stick with it," a concept illustrated by award winners WITec - begun in a garage 15 years ago; the young Swiss polymer adaptive optics company Optotune; and Physical Optics Corp., founded by Polish immigrants to the United States.
"The quality and competition among this year's entries were even keener than in past years,” commented SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs.
“More companies submitted applications than ever before. The strength of applications from core companies in our industry along with the impressive innovations bubbling up from smaller companies really demonstrate the vitality of the photonics industry,” he said.
The Prism Awards are sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE. A panel of independent industry and academic experts judged nearly 100 entries, selecting the winners from among 28 finalists.
Winners in their respective categories were:
Defense and Security
Physical Optics Corp
. Mobile ELISA-based Pathogen Detection
The Mobile ELISA-based Pathogen Detection (MEPAD) is a portable, low-cost, plug-and-play USB-powered bio-hazard detection system. Based on a disposable microfluidic chip for multiple-threat detection and a highly sensitive portable microfluidic fluorescence measurement unit, it controls the flow of samples and reagents through the microfluidic channels of the chip. The MEPAD addresses the need for real-time biohazard identification for First Responders in the field and point-of-care specialists.
Test, Measurement, Metrology
True Surface Microscopy
True Surface Microscopy allows the measurement of rough or inclined samples while maintaining the advantages of confocal imaging. The core element of this imaging mode is an integrated sensor for optical profilometry. Large-area topographic coordinates from the profilometer measurement can be precisely correlated with the large-area confocal Raman imaging data. This allows confocal Raman imaging along heavily inclined or very rough samples with the true surface held in constant focus while maintaining the highest confocality.
The Satsuma HE laser is the answer to markets such as eye surgery, medical device manufacturing, and semiconductor processing that require a high-precision ultrafast tool that is reliable, industry-ready and affordable. This ultrafast fiber laser offers high energy (up to 20 µJ), high average power, and air-cooling in a small turnkey package. It delivers ultra-short pulse duration (350 fs) and high repetition rate (1 MHz or more) in a compact and highly stable housing.
Optics and Optical Components
Optotune’s Laser Speckle Reducer (LSR) is a compact and low-cost solution for effectively reducing speckle contrast in laser illumination. While a traditional approach uses rotating diffusers, the LSR uses electroactive polymers to oscillate a diffuser. This laser speckle reducer is ideal for applications in laser-projection displays, beam homogenizers, metrology, microscopy, interferometry, and lithography.
LabSource, VBG®-stabilized dual laser source
The LabSource module is a dual-laser source for use in Shifted Excitation Raman Difference Spectroscopy (SERDS). Based on the VBG®-stabilized laser diodes with strictly controlled wavelength separation corresponding to the line width of the Raman bands, the module allows accurate and consistent subtraction of the fluorescence contribution from the Raman signal, enabling significantly better signal-to-noise ratio. It’s well-suited to applications in which fluorescence impedes traditional single-source Raman spectroscopy analysis.
Detectors, Sensing, Imaging, and Cameras
The T-Sight 5000 is an automated imaging system that allows inspections to be performed in real time at speeds greater than 300 kph (186 mph). The system can be mounted to the front of high-speed trains to perform in-depth inspections and analysis of tunnels and clearance profiles on railways, capturing image data of bridges, underpasses, poles, and other obstacles that may hinder the safe transport of rail passengers and cargo. The system can visually recreate 3D images of the railway infrastructure from the data.
Other Light Sources
Ultra-Narrow Linewidth Laser
OEwaves’ Ultra-Narrow Linewidth Laser Source, based on a high quality factor (Q) Whispering Gallery Mode (WGM) micro-resonator, offers super-fine instantaneous and dynamic optical spectral linewidth of less than 300Hz and ultra-low phase/frequency noise in a small form factor. Suitable for a broad range of sensing, monitoring, and metrology applications where high resolution, high precision, and absolute accuracy are required, this is scalable to a variety of wavelengths in C and L bands.
Green Photonics and Sustainable Energy
DFB laser at 3µm
The DFB laser sources from nanoplus enable a new qualitative level of monitoring techniques using tunable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS). Customers can now use their established know-how from existing gas measurement systems to develop new instruments for the detection of hydrocarbons in the 3µm to 3.5µm region. These sensors can improve energy efficiency, product quality, and pollutant reduction and can be used in systems for flammable gas detection and environmental monitoring.
Life Sciences and Biophotonics
A light source for fluorescence imaging applications, the Heliophor provides a new alternative to arc lamps, metal halides, and LED light sources. With nine available wavelength modules, each system is user-configurable and produces ultra-stable output. This light source features rapid switch times, digital shuttering, and advanced triggering and control capabilities to rapidly interface with other system components and enable high-speed, multidimensional imaging. These features allow for high-speed, live-cell imaging without the need for additional equipment.
Call for Entries for 2012 Prism Awards
The 2012 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation will honor photonic products and technology that challenge conventional ideas, solve problems, and improve life through light.
If you plan to sell or deliver (or sold or delivered) an innovative sensor, laser, imaging device, or related product between September 2011 and December 2012, you are eligible to submit an application and be recognized as a leader in your industry.
The deadline for applying for a 2012 Prism Award is 14 September 2012.
Awards will be presented in San Francisco at SPIE Photonics West, 6 February 2013.
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