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SPIE Professional October 2010

Working for a Better World

SPIE Photonics West, 22-27 January 2011

By Beth Kelley

Photonics devices and technologies help make the world a greener, brighter, safer, and healthier place to live. SPIE Photonics West 2011 will showcase the many technologies, products, and researchers dedicated to making the world better through photonics. SPIE Photonics West will be held 22-27 January 2011, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA (USA).

One way SPIE is contributing to a greener world through photonics is by hosting its first Green Photonics virtual symposium. This innovative event will highlight papers throughout Photonics West addressing technologies that have an impact on energy sources, energy efficiencies, sustainability, conservation, and/or other "green" focused components. This includes using an online "venue" that will allow researchers from all around the world to easily search relevant papers.

Because all the papers in the Green Photonics symposium will be identified in the Photonics West program, attendees in San Francisco will also be able to easily find the conference rooms in the Moscone Center.

Energy, sustainability, and conservation are inherently interdisciplinary, and the new Green Photonics virtual symposium brings together the latest developments in a broad range of photonics applications across Photonics West. SPIE Fellow Stephen Eglash of the new Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University (USA) chairs this event.

SPIE Photonics West is an ideal launch pad for this interdisciplinary green symposium, since Photonics West by nature reaches across many disciplines and fields with its other symposia: Biomedical Optics (BiOS), Lasers and Applications (LASE), Optoelectronic Materials, Devices, and Applications (OPTO), and Micro and Nanofabrication (MOEMS-MEMS).

Separate Green Photonics tracks in the virtual symposium will cover

  • Solid-state lighting and displays
  • Laser-assisted manufacturing and micro- and nanofabrication
  • Communications
  • Renewable energy generation: fusion and photovoltaics
  • Awards will be presented for best papers in each of the tracks.

Photonics West's move to San Francisco in 2010 was a huge success, and the program is expected to be even bigger this year. Nestled in a city known for its environmental activism, the Moscone Center is dedicated to making a minimal footprint on the environment, with a large rooftop solar panel array, an aggressive recycling program, and other earth-friendly choices. The Moscone is also located in the heart of downtown, providing easy access to the good food and rich cultural life that San Francisco has to offer.


BiOS is the world's largest international biomedical optics and biophotonics conference, and has long provided a central axis for the innovation of medicine and medical technologies, the application of these lifesaving devices, and business and market resources to make sure these technologies reach the right people. Co-chairs and SPIE Fellows R. Rox Anderson, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine, and James Fujimoto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have guided this event to include a multitude of technologies, from photonics-based therapies to tissue optics to biomedical spectroscopy and microscopy.

The Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing conference, chaired by Alexander A. Oraevsky, TomoWave Laboratories Inc. and Lihong V. Wang, Washington University in St. Louis, showcases an up-and-coming technology and is one of the fastest growing meetings at BiOS this year, Fujimoto says.

"Photoacoustics can achieve superior imaging depths compared to other optical modalities," he says, "because ultrasound transducers have very high sensitivity, and optical attenuation from scattering occurs on only a single pass."


After more than 50 years of hard work, lasers and laser research are still producing cutting-edge breakthroughs and leading to new technologies. LASE has helped bring many of these breakthroughs to light by supporting conferences on hot technologies such as VECSELs, which have received much attention in the past few years.

"The new conference, Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VECSELs), with approximately 40 papers, to my opinion is a very good number for a first-time conference," says Friedhelm Dorsch, head of process sensor systems at TRUMPF. Dorsch is 2011 LASE symposium chair along with Alberto Piqué of the U.S. Naval Research Lab.


Optoelectronic devices and materials have seen a huge surge of interest lately due to their applications in alternative energy and energy conservation. Many of the green technologies now on the market, as well as better display screens, faster communication, and more robust optical storage devices, got their start within the walls of past OPTO conferences and talks. OPTO addresses the latest advancements in integrated optoelectronic devices, semiconductor lasers, LEDs, as well as nanotechnologies, displays, holography, and optical communications.

The semiconductor laser program is particularly strong at OPTO as well as LASE.

Liang-Chy Chien of Kent State University (USA) is symposium chair.


For 25 years, MOEMS-MEMS has enabled the mass production of miniaturized products and systems of the future, and it is one of the best places to see photonics technology in action, helping make the world a better place. This includes everything from automated body monitors to car safety devices to your laptop computer.

Symposium chair and SPIE Fellow Thomas Suleski, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says he is excited about the joint session targeting the technology area of "green" MEMS/MOEMS and energy harvesting in micro- and nanodevices. The joint session is shared between the conferences Micromachining and Microfabrication Process Technology XVI and Reliability, Packaging, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS and Nanodevices X.

Several other MOEMS-MEMS conferences have joint sessions discussing photovoltaics, space exploration, and lithography, as well as the overall universality of micro- and nanofabrication and the reliability and applications of devices. This symposium is a great place to see the latest devices and learn about new ways they are being applied.

Career Track

Other events of note at SPIE Photonics West: The annual job fair takes place 25-26 January, 2011. Whether you're interested in attending workshops, discussing career options with employers, building your network, or gaining visibility with hiring companies, the job fair provides something for people at all stages of their career.

Industry and Exhibition

The Photonics West Exhibition will run from 22-27 January, with a BiOS-specific exhibition running 22 and 23 January. As the flagship event for companies in the industry, the Photonics West exhibition showcases the newest tools, applications, and innovations within the laser and photonics industry. Dozens of new products are launched every year in the exhibition hall. The exhibition floor is the unofficial meeting place for the latest innovators, products, top companies, and industry leaders.

Prism AwardsThird year for Prism Awards

The 2010 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation will be presented by SPIE and Photonics Media at a gala banquet during SPIE Photonics West, Wednesday, 26 January.

The global competition recognizes photonics products and technologies that improve life, break conventional ideas, and solve problems. Finalists will be listed in the January SPIE Professional.

Awards will be made in 11 categories:

  • Defense and Security
  • Green Photonics/Energy Efficiency
  • Life Sciences and Biophotonics
  • Information and Communication
  • Optics and Optical Components
  • Scientific Lasers
  • Industrial Lasers
  • Other Light Sources
  • Detectors, Sensing, Imaging, and Cameras
  • Test, Measurement, Metrology
  • Nanophotonics

-Beth Kelley is a science and technology writer.

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

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201010.13

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