Fiber-optic Sensors Gain Attention at SPIE DSS 2015

SPIE DSS, 20-24 April, is in Baltimore, MD (USA).

01 April 2015

logo for SPIE DSSA new virtual track on fiber-optic sensors, along with a one-day course on design and technology for these sensors and a tutorial session composed of three invited talks, have been added to the offerings this year at SPIE DSS, 20-24 April in Baltimore, MD (USA).

DSS combines two symposia, Defense + Security (DS) and Sensing Technology + Applications (STA), and the new track will highlight papers from both symposia that showcase the latest in fiber-optic sensors. SPIE DS offers 32 conferences on optics, imaging, sensing and other defense technologies.

STA, which debuted at DSS in 2014 to recognize the photonics-based capabilities in the burgeoning field of sensing, includes 23 conferences focused on commercial- and industrial-sensing technologies and applications. Some of the largest and longest-running conferences will cover IR and mid-IR technologies, high-power lasers, and nanotechnologies for systems and components.

Overall, DSS will include over 2000 presentations on IR, laser, and other optical technologies and materials for energy harvesting, imaging, displays, food safety, defense, security, and other applications. A 400-company exhibition will also be held in the Baltimore Convention Center 21-23 April.

“Fiber-optic sensors have unique advantages with respect to size, cost, electromagnetic immunity, and electrical isolation,” says SPIE Fellow Eric Udd of Columbia Gorge Research (USA), a chair of the Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications conference at STA. “Huge investments in the fiber-optic telecommunication market have led to more affordable components with higher performance.”

Udd adds that in the late 1970s, “fiber-optic sensors were being developed primarily for aerospace and defense applications that included rotation measurement and underwater acoustic sensing.”

While these areas continue to be subjects of interest, so, too, are conferences covering the diverse developing areas of fiber-optic sensors such as those for robotics and dangerous or life-threatening locations.

Udd will give a talk Wednesday, 22 April, on 30 years of fiber-optic sensors for structural monitoring, one of three presentations on these sensors that will comprise a tutorial session in his fiber optics conference. Tom Graver of Micron Optics (USA) and George Rodriguez of Los Alamos National Lab (USA) will join Udd in a morning session on Bragg gratings.

Debbie Senesky of Stanford University (USA), co-chair of the Sensors for Extreme Harsh Environments conference, notes that the pressing need to collect data within harsh environments, such as deep space, combustion chambers, and oil fields, is the motivation for recent advances on these sensors.

“This is driving the development of robust and reliable sensors that can withstand high temperatures, irradiation, and chemical attack,” she says. “It is a challenging field that pushes the limits of materials and electronic devices.”

Another conference with talks on fiber optics, Sensors for Next-Generation Robotics, chaired by Dan Popa of University of Texas at Arlington (USA), will focus on development, testing, and deployment of reconfigurable and adaptive robots. Advances in robotics and computer technology are making access to intelligent communication, sensing, and computing hardware more available to the general public.

“Improving the capabilities of cooperative robots could allow users to accomplish difficult physical tasks in hospitals, factories, or the battlefield,” Popa says. “But safety and sensing of human intent must also be considered when robots operate with humans.”

For example, Popa says, “One technology of considerable interest to robot safety, and to our conference, is multi-modal sensor arrays embedded in flexible substrates,” such as soft, pressure-sensitive robot skin.


photo of ShafferAn all-symposium plenary presentation will feature Alan Shaffer, the principal deputy to the assistant secretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense (USA). Shaffer's talk will center on engineering capabilities for the next generation of war fighters.

The industry program includes a keynote address by William Chappell, deputy director of the Microsystems Technology Office at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on upcoming DARPA programs. Entitled, “DARPA Technologies to Alter the Future, or Multiple Opportunities for Me to Look Foolish,” this talk will detail specific technologies such GaN materials and MEMS in photonics, and predict the impact of these technologies for future national security issues.

Joseph X. Montemarano, executive director of the Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) Engineering Research Center at Princeton University (USA), will lead a technology-transfer workshop with representatives from US government labs, the venture-capital community, and industry. The workshop will specifically focus on technology commercialization for early-stage defense and homeland security applications, with an emphasis on mid-IR technologies.

Stephen Auvil, senior vice president of technology transfer and commercialization at Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) (USA), will also lead a commercialization workshop to show prospective entrepreneurs how new products make their way out of universities and federal labs. Auvil will also moderate a panel of entrepreneurs discussing the commercialization process during the week.

Kerry Scarlott and Ian Moss, attorneys for Goulston & Storrs, will lead two sessions on best legal practices for navigating ITAR and other international trade regulations. In addition, SPIE is holding an industry session on updates to the US munitions list that will impact ITAR.

  • Welcome reception: Monday night, 20 April, at the Maryland Science Center, sponsored by FLIR and SPIE.
  • Fellows Luncheon: Monday, with a talk on strengthening the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by SPIE Fellow Michael Eismann of the US Air Force Research Lab.
  • Speed Networking Social: Tuesday 21 April, helping attendees expand their network by making a new contact every three minutes.
  • DSS Expo: Tuesday through Thursday, featuring core technologies, workshops, and product tutorials.  Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and naturalist Casey Anderson will discuss thermal and underwater imaging at the FLIR center stage in the exhibition hall.
  • DSS Job Fair: Tuesday and Wednesday in the Baltimore Convention Center, with defense industry companies that are hiring.
  • Courses: More than 35 half- and full-day courses include current approaches in lasers and applications, sensors, imaging, IR systems, as well as optical and optomechanical engineering.

Technical events at the symposia include a workshop on hyperspectral imaging standards, a panel discussion on metrology for additive manufacturing, and two poster sessions.

A panel on redefining the research ecosystem will be led by SPIE Fellow John Pellegrino, director of the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate at the US Army Research Lab (ARL). This discussion will explore how research and development collaborations are being arranged to address the increasing pace of technological change and the globalization of technology.

Other panel discussions will cover subjects such as context in information fusion, autonomous sensing, and next-generation analytics.

Nils R. Sandell Jr., director of the Strategic Technology Office at DARPA, is chair of SPIE DS, and SPIE member David A. Logan of BAE Systems is co-chair.

Wolfgang Schade of Clausthal University of Technology and Fraunhofer Heinrich Heinz Institute (Germany) is symposium chair for STA. Ming C. Wu of University of California, Berkeley (USA) is co-chair.

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