SPIE Photonics Europe 2014

Highlights from SPIE Photonics Europe 2014

01 July 2014

SPIE Photonics Europe in April served up a daylong program of executive briefings on commercialization opportunities and challenges of photonics technologies as well as some 1200 presentations and technical reports on the latest in silicon photonics, nanophotonics, neurophotonics, biophotonics, 3D printing, hyperspectral imaging, and many other photonics technologies.

The weeklong event in Brussels also hosted the Photonics Innovation Village as part of an 80-company exhibition and featured talks by representatives of the European Commission’s Photonics Unit, Horizon 2020, and from the chair of the International Year of Light 2015 (IYL2015) initiative.

Among the awards that were presented were the SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award to Brian Wilson of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Technical Institute at University of Toronto (Canada) who gave a talk on emerging nanotechnologies for improvements in endoscopy, and the SPIE Dennis Gabor Award to Pramod Rastogi (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in diffractive wavefront technologies.

image for SPIE Photonics Europe

In addition, SPIE student members won 11 of 18 Best Student Paper Awards at Photonics Europe, and six research teams with new photonics applications and products received cash prizes in the Photonics Innovation Village competition. The Photonics Innovation Village was organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and is aimed at encouraging the transfer of optics and photonics R&D into new and useful products.

The top prize in the category of "Best Innovation by an Individual Researcher" went to Josep Carreras from LEDMOTIVE Technologies in Spain, for "Ledmotive®: A light engine with full spectral control."

SPIE student member Gary Stevens and his UK team earned a first-place prize for "Best Innovation by a Multilateral Project, Organisation or Company” for MINERVA, their project for "Mid- to near-IR spectroscopy for improved medical diagnostics."

Winners each received €1500, and first and second runners-up received €500 each.


Technical talks by “Hot Topics” speakers covered the “butterfly effect” in laser-diode dynamics (Marc Sciamanna of Supélec in France); connections between classical nonlinear optics and its quantum counterpart in photonics structures (John Sipe of University of Toronto); graphene quantum nano-optoelectronics (SPIE member Frank Koppens from the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain); silicon photonics for semiconductor manufacturing (SPIE member Michal Lipson of Cornell University in New York); and integrated photonics circuits (Raymond Beausoleil of HP Labs in the US).

image of Sciamanna Sciamanna’s talk on laser-diode dynamics began with a historical review on chaotic behavior and lasers, beginning with Ted Maiman's 1961 paper that referenced erratic laser output and Edward Lorenz's 1963 equations that resemble a butterfly when plotted, giving the “butterfly effect” its name.

Sciamanna also discussed Hermann Haken's work in 1975 connecting lasers and chaos, which led to the understanding that instability of laser output is driven by high pump power and high losses in the cavity.

The behavior of diode lasers as damped nonlinear oscillators was not expected to demonstrate chaotic behavior. However, work from the 1980s through 2013 demonstrated that one could drive optical chaos by current modulation, optical injection, and optical feedback means.

Sciamanna explained the nature of this behavior in laser diodes and the role of polarization switching and mode hopping as well as the importance of non-orthogonal, elliptically polarized states in understanding the deterministic chaos being observed.

The final portion of his presentation covered how to apply and optimize the phenomena to random-number generators.

Also in the Hot Topics sessions, SPIE member John Dudley, chairman of the IYL2015 steering committee and president of the European Physical Society, detailed the steps that led a partnership of over 100 scientific societies and organizations from more than 85 countries to successfully have the United Nations declare the year 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies.

IYL2015 will raise public and international political awareness of the importance of light for the future of global society. Stating that photonics is the "window to the universe," Dudley urged his colleagues to become involved any way they can to spread the word about all of the possibilities light can bring to society.

For example, "Study after sunset is not possible in many countries,” he said. “Let's help bring light to the entire world.” Dudley speaks more about the IYL in an SPIE Newsroom video.


photo of BochWolfgang Boch, the newly appointed head of the Photonics Unit of the European Commission (EC), provided an overview of Horizon 2020, the European research and innovation program, and the Photonics Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in particular. The PPP will play an essential role in determining the priorities for future funding rounds involving optics and photonics technologies.

Efforts involving the PPP will focus on solutions for society's challenges such as health and aging, energy, and climate, Boch noted.

"A key enabling technology with enormous economic potential, photonics has [already] achieved broad recognition in Europe," Boch said.

"Photonics is central to driving innovation in the 21st century,” he added. “To exploit Europe's full potential in photonics, collaboration along the value chain and networking is crucial. The PPP with its working groups is open to all. Get involved," he urged.

Leading off the week in Brussels, Margaret Ledwith and Frances Mitchell from Innovation Academy University College in Dublin facilitated a lively workshop for some 70 SPIE Student Chapter leaders focused on rethinking leadership in the 21st century. Chapter members from as far away as Cameroon, Pakistan, and Colombia focused on developing key skills to become just that new type of leader.

Read more about events at SPIE Photonics Europe 2014.

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