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SPIE Professional July 2012

2012 Optics + Photonics

Preparing for the Future, Diving into the Past

By Karen Thomas

Research is the key to new innovative technologies that help industry, academia, and governments find better ways to preserve our environment, understand and develop new technologies, and discuss emerging applications.

Logo for SPIE O+PAt SPIE Optics and Photonics 2012, 12-16 August in San Diego, CA (USA), attendees will have access to 2800 papers on the latest research in optics and photonics technologies, many labeled as green photonics, covered by four symposia: NanoScience + Engineering, Solar Energy + Technology, Organic Photonics + Electronics, and Optical Engineering + Applications.

Special events include technical activities such as a zoom lens design challenge, the “Optical Believe It or Not” session, and a workshop on x-ray mirrors; networking and poster sessions; an industry exhibition; job fair, and the SPIE Annual General Meeting.

Vladimir M. ShalaevMaking the connections

Several plenary talks, open to all technical attendees, will address the future of optics and photonics, with subjects such as optomechanics, organic LEDs, nanostructures, solar cell technologies, and liquid-crystal lasers.

Recent progress in the development of optical metamaterials has allowed unprecedented control over the flow of light at both the nano- and macroscopic scales. In his talk, “The Exciting Science of Light with Metamaterials,” SPIE Fellow Vladimir M. Shalaev of Purdue University (USA) will review the growing field of optical metamaterials and discuss the recent progress in developing tunable and active metamaterials, nanolasers, artificial optical magnetism, and semiconductor-based and loss-free negative-index metamaterials.

“The field of metamaterials keeps surprising researchers by bringing up new exciting ideas and revising old dogmas,” Shalaev says. “At this conference, I expect to see a number of new developments in the field resulting in novel applications.”

(See "Eco-metamaterials" in this issue of SPIE Professional.)

Bahaa SalehMore than 50 years after the first demonstration of the laser, photonics has become a mature field. While it’s difficult to predict the disruptive discoveries and inventions that will no doubt create new directions, it’s safe to say there will be steady progress along established R&D directions.

SPIE Fellow Bahaa Saleh, dean of the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) at University of Central Florida (USA), will discuss this progress in a symposium-wide plenary talk on the “Future of Optics and Photonics.”

“The field has made steady progress,” Saleh says. “At meetings like SPIE Optics + Photonics, we see signs of challenges and hear about the latest projects.

“At CREOL, we are concerned about education. We don’t want to see stagnation in what we teach. We go to these conferences to see what technologies can be transferred to the classroom. SPIE conferences focus on industry and this is a method by which academics can connect.”

Titanic discoveries under the sea

Jules S. JaffeApril 15, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. For decades, scientists and explorers tried to find the wreck on the floor of the north Atlantic. Success finally came in 1985.

At the Optical Engineering + Applications plenary session, Jules S. Jaffe, a research oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA), will present “From Titanic to the Tiny: Three Decades of Underwater Optical Imaging.”

Jaffe will recount his experience as a member of the science team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that discovered the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985 using an optical imaging system. Since joining the Scripps Institution, Jaffe has developed a number of underwater imaging systems that have offered unique views of organisms that live in the ocean.

Jaffe will describe past and ongoing projects, including a recent grant from the Keck Foundation to develop an underwater 3D video-rate microscope, and explain how his work provides new insights into marine ecosystems.

Whether studying the largest animals on the planet or the smallest organisms, “the importance of understanding the global ecosystem has never been greater, and optics can play an important role.”

“I’m looking forward to both telling our story and hearing the reaction of the SPIE electro-optics community to our work and the challenges that we face in imaging objects underwater," says Jaffe.

(See "Titanic: the optics of undersea discovery" in the SPIE Newsroom.)

Light in nature conference

Rongguang LiangIn the natural world, there are many fascinating and beautiful effects involving optics. Optical scientists and engineers discover more about the natural world through new technologies such as photonic crystals that mimic the natural world. Photonic crystal-like structures in peacock feathers give the plumes their color. Similar structures in butterfly wing scales provide their iridescent colors. Polarization and color effects can be seen in the aurora borealis, and even rainbows and oil slicks.

In a special program at SPIE Optics + Photonics, SPIE Fellow Rongguang Liang will chair a conference on “The Nature of Light: Light in Nature IV” to cover aspects of light in the natural world and research involving practical and experimental aspects of optics in nature.

  Photonic crystal-like structures in peacock feathers give the plumes their color.

Sessions will include:

  • Color in nature
  • Nature of light
  • Optics in art
  • Bio-inspired optics
Several special programs in San Diego for 2012

Akhlesh LakhtakiaOther special programs included in the Optical Engineering + Applications symposium are a new conference on Photonics Innovations and Solutions for Complex Environments and Systems (PISCES) and the second Optics Education and Outreach conference.

SPIE Fellow Akhlesh Lakhtakia of Pennsylvania State University (USA), editor of the Journal of Nanophotonics, has organized a full day of speakers for the PISCES conference, with topics ranging from plasmonics and liquid crystals to intellectual property and the global problem of blindness and visual dysfunction.

The PISCES conference will also have a panel discussion entitled “Vision 2025” to open a dialogue on the world’s move toward a knowledge-based, global economy. To maintain this trend, technoscientific innovation must be promoted for solving today’s problems and preventing problems that may occur in the future.

Panel members will take questions from the audience on subjects such as university-industry-government partnerships, legal frameworks, and societal incentives to promote photonics innovation.

Enhancement of K-16 photonics education to foster critical thinking and experiential learning will also be discussed.

Approximately 30 papers on photonics education, training, and outreach as well as a poster session are scheduled for the Optics Education and Outreach conference where educators and students share new teaching methods and other success stories.

This conference, chaired by SPIE Fellow G. Groot Gregory G. Groot Gregory of Synopsys, is designed to convey a snapshot of the current state of introductory and secondary education in the field of optics and to bring together individuals who inspire youth to pursue the study of science and optics.

Presentations include “The development of a light and color teaching kit for astronomy,” which describes a low-cost kit for teaching about light and color in the context of astronomy, developed by the Education and Public Outreach Group at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (USA).

“Changing the way photonics is taught at school” will feature a new photonics educational kit (Photonics Explorer) that was tested in seven European countries last year. Presenters will report how this guided inquiry-based learning material affects the way photonics is taught in class and its impact on the interest in and image of physics among students.

A future kit is the focus of “Development of low-cost optical fiber kit to promote fiber optics at the school level.” Members of the SPIE Student Chapter at University of Delhi at Acharya Narendra Dev College (ANDC) are developing this kit for their optics outreach program.

Papers from the conference will be open access in the SPIE Digital Library after the meeting.

SPIE Women in Optics — and in physics

Theodore W. HodappThe SPIE Women in Optics presentation and reception on Monday 13 August will feature Theodore W. Hodapp, director of Education and Diversity at the American Physical Society (APS) speaking on “Improving Representation of Women in Physics (and Optics). APS programs advocate issues relevant to minorities and women and in areas of education and careers.

Hodapp will present data on the status of women in physics and discuss some of the programs that are helping address the issues.

“Women have long been underrepresented in physics,” says Hodapp. “The good news is that in physics, although we are far from parity, we continue to make advances.”

In keeping with the theme of diversity, Hodapp will also speak at the SPIE Fellows luncheon on Tuesday 14 August on the topic, “Critical Issues in Physics Education.”

“Physics education in this country faces many challenges with ramifications for the entire science enterprise,” Hodapp says.” He will present the current issues and discuss what is being done to understand and address the root causes.

Special tribute to William L. Wolfe

Learning is a lifelong experience, but having the opportunity to be instructed by a leader in the field is a great advantage and a special privilege. On Wednesday, 15 August, SPIE Fellow Mary G. Turner of the Breault Research Organization (BRO) will chair a tribute to SPIE Fellow and former SPIE President (1989) William L. Wolfe, noted author and educator in optical engineering and infrared technologies.

  Wolfe, enjoying one of his other passions.

Professor emeritus of Optical Sciences at University of Arizona, Wolfe joined UA in 1969 and retired in 1995. Later, he established the William L. Wolfe Family Endowed Scholarship in Optical Sciences to honor his family and to support graduate students pursuing careers in infrared optics.

Wolfe helped translate the study of optics in ways even the non-scientist could understand and appreciate. His contributions to space programs, military, defense, and commercial applications have defined a productive, innovative, and successful career in infrared optics.

At the SPIE tribute, several friends and colleagues will acknowledge Wolfe’s contributions to optics and to their own lives and careers.

“I am a product of his making,” says SPIE Fellow Robert Breault, founder and president of BRO. Breault joked that he wasn’t one of Wolfe’s best students, “but he did more for me than I could have expected.”

“I was mentored by Mr. Infrared,” adds SPIE President Eustace Dereniak. “Professor Wolfe had a great influence on my professional career from graduate school to my present position. My career has followed the trail of Bill’s infrared research, geographically as well as via his mentoring and assistance with my career development. He established the infrared facilities at the University of Arizona, which I subsequently inherited, and throughout the years, he has been a great mentor and friend.”

SPIE Fellow Marija Strojnik of the Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica AC (Mexico) will also present a paper at this conference. “Professor Wolfe taught his students how to use the knowledge we acquire in the formal classroom setting to solve real life, applied engineering, and scientific problems,” she says.

Focus on jobs and salaries at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Careers in optics and photonics are a major theme at SPIE Optics + Photonics.

Top employers will be at the annual Job Fair at the San Diego Convention Center to interview and hire candidates. The SPIE Job Fair will be held 14-15 August and is free to all attendees.

The results of a new SPIE salary survey will also be available at the event in August. The first year’s version, delivered to SPIE members with the January 2012 issue of SPIE Professional, produced valuable data about trends in the global photonics workforce, as of mid-2011.

SPIE has received more than 7500 valid responses to the 2012 survey, which sought updated salary figures as well as information on job satisfaction and how people find jobs in optics and photonics.

“We are committed to being the essential source for good data in all segments of the photonics industry and research community,” says SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs.

SPIE Annual Meeting and member events

The SPIE Annual General Meeting will be held at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina at 6 pm Tuesday 14 August.

All SPIE members are encouraged to attend and hear the results of the 2012 election and a report on the “State of the Society” from SPIE President Eustace Dereniak and Executive Director Eugene Arthurs.

This meeting will be followed by the members’ reception at 7 pm.

Nine new SPIE Fellows will receive their promotion plaques during a Fellows luncheon on Tuesday, 14 August. Fellows planning to attend are asked to RSVP brentj@SPIE.org.

The awards banquet on Wednesday 15 August will include the presentation of several 2012 Society awards.

Student events

Student activities at SPIE Optics + Photonics begin Saturday 11 August with the Student Chapter Leadership Workshop where student leaders from around the world can meet, network, and hone leadership skills. Topics of discussion will include funding, scholarships, travel grants, and other benefits of SPIE student membership.

The Optics Outreach Olympics on Sunday 12 August will be a friendly competition featuring optics and photonics educational projects from several SPIE Student Chapters.

At the complimentary Lunch with the Experts on Monday 13 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 in the exhibition hall will feature the research and programs developed by some of SPIE’s brightest student groups to increase science awareness and optics literacy in their regions.

For more information on SPIE Optics + Photonics or to register with your SPIE member discount: spie.org/op

Plenary speakers


  • Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University (USA)
  • Bahaa Saleh, University of Central Florida (USA)

MONDAY 13 AUGUSTLogo for SPIE NanoSci + Engineering

  • Oskar Painter, California Institute of Technology (USA)
  • Nasser Peyghambarian, University of Arizona (USA)
  • Paras Prasad, University at Buffalo (USA)
  • Misoon Mah, Asian Office of Aerospace Development (Japan

  • Garry Rumbles, National Renewable Energy Lab (USA) and University of Colorado at Boulder (USA)Logo for SPIE Solar Energy + Technology
  • Brendan M. Kayes, Alta Devices, Inc. (USA)
  • Michael J. Heben, University of Toledo (USA)
  • Vijit Sabnis, Solar Junction (USA)
  • Billy J. Stanbery, HelioVolt Corp. (USA)
  • Michael Köhl, Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme (Germany)


OLEDs and Solid-State Lighting

  • Junji Kido, Yamagata University (Japan)
  • Chih-Chung Yang, National Taiwan University

Logo for SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications

  • Roger P. Angel, Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at University of Arizona (USA) and REhnu LLC (USA)
  • Jules S. Jaffe, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA)

Logo for SPIE Organic Photonics + Electronics WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST

  • Harry J. Coles, University of Cambridge (UK)
  • Marie O’Regan, DuPont Displays (USA)
  • Yang Yang, University of California, Los Angeles (USA)

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


To receive a print copy of SPIE Professional, the SPIE member magazine, become an SPIE member.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201207.26

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