New publishing venue for short tutorials on optics.

01 July 2015
Robert Fiete

What is the best publishing venue for authors who would like to publish a 20- to 50-page tutorial that summarizes a broad topic or highlights a specific niche in optical science and technology? SPIE Press manager Tim Lamkins was struggling with this question when I approached him in 2013 with an idea for a book tutorial.

I thought about writing a tutorial about image resolution after I realized how often I was breaking the bad news to people that the incredible imaging technologies portrayed in Hollywood productions are simply the product of imaginative writers. Of particular note is the “zoom and enhance” capability seen in TV shows and movies that allows a crime lab technician to magnify a digital image on a computer to an incredible level of detail necessary to break the case.

When I proposed the tutorial on imaging resolution to Tim, we both understood that this specific topic would be only approximately 50 pages; hence it would be too short for the SPIE Tutorial Text series, whose length is typically approximately 200 pages. We also agreed that this niche subject really wasn’t appropriate for inclusion in an SPIE journal, so we were stymied.

Shortly afterward, Ken Barat, a laser safety consultant, proposed writing a tutorial on setting up a laser lab. So now, Tim had proposals from two authors who wished to publish short tutorials on concise topics.

As Tim saw it, the only solution was to create a new e-book series for short, concise, instructional tutorials.

With the smaller size of these tutorials, releasing them electronically as e-books seemed to make the most sense, and the SPIE Spotlight series was born.

It was hard for me to contain my excitement over this idea, and I jumped at the chance to be the series editor.


Our first task was to create topical areas and recruit editorial board members with expertise in those subject areas. The six topics we arrived at cover everything from biomedical optics to signal processing to semiconductor, energy, and imaging technologies.

These editorial board members will periodically put out a call for e-book proposals on specific subject matters within their topical areas. The board members and their subject areas are:

  • Rick Kendrick of Lockheed Martin for aerospace and defense technologies
  • SPIE Fellow Paul Lane of the US Naval Research Lab on energy and the environment
  • SPIE Member Stefan Preble of Rochester Institute of Technology for semiconductor technology
  • SPIE Fellow Majid Rabbani of Kodak for electronic imaging and signal processing
  • SPIE Senior Member Brian Sorg from the US National Cancer Institute for biomedical optics and medical imaging
  • SPIE Fellow Rich Youngworth of Riyo for optical design and engineering

thumbnail imageWe have already published three of these e-books: an overview on optical fiber sensing; the “how-to” e-book on laser lab logistics; and my Spotlight on the true capabilities of the “zoom and enhance” technology portrayed in films and TV.

Also, calls went out this spring for potential authors to submit proposals for Spotlight e-books on orbital debris, quantum integrated photonics for semiconductors, digital photography, and optical design and engineering of digital systems.

All Spotlights are peer reviewed before publication and the authors receive royalties, just as they would for any other book SPIE publishes. E-books in the Spotlight series are available for mobile devices and as downloadable PDFs. They are also accessible to institutional users via the SPIE Digital Library.

We encourage interested authors to visit to learn more about submitting ideas for publication in the SPIE Spotlight series.

SPIE Fellow Robert Fiete is editor of the SPIE Spotlights series

–SPIE Fellow Robert Fiete is editor of the SPIE Spotlights series. He is a chief technologist and director of R&D at Harris Corp. (USA).



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