Photonics West 2012: Day 1 Report
By Ron Grunsby and Josh Butia
More than 20,000 members of the worldwide photonics community gathered in San Francisco's Moscone Center this week for SPIE Photonics West 2012, the year's most anticipated photonics, lasers, and biomedical conference and exhibition. One of the biggest draws is the Photonics West Exhibition, and attendees could see the latest technologies and get information from more than 1,200 companies, universities, labs, and other exhibitors. Obviously, Photonics Online couldn't get around to every booth at this massive event, but we did visit quite a few. Most exhibitors with whom we spoke reported strong sales leads and were happy with the amount of traffic at their booths.
“It was a busy, uplifting show,” said Doug Malchow, Business Development Manager – Industrial Products, Sensors Unlimited – Goodrich ISR Systems. “The aisles were busy continuously throughout the show. There were great conversations, good meetings, and people are looking toward the future and willing to commit funds.”
Here is a rundown of some of the products we saw, people we met, and things we heard on Tuesday at the 2012 Photonics West Exhibition.
Abrisa Technologies highlighted its high ion exchange (HIE) thin glass, which is chemically strengthened in a post-production chemical process, greatly increasing the strength of the glass over that of float glass. This strong, flexible glass is extremely durable and damage-resistant, which makes it suitable for use in electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, displays, touch screens, and TVs. The HIE thin glass allows for very sleek touch screen and display devices with better brightness and touch sensitivity. The glass is easy-to-clean, wear-resistant, and available in thicknesses from 0.5 mm to 2.0 mm. Precision cutting and machining, edge treatments, opposed drilling of holes, and custom screen prints all can be applied.
Accumold was on hand discussing their micro-injection molding capabilities - a large portion of their business is in micro-optics. They are molding objects from about 3½” in diameter to 800 microns tall. “Conversion from glass to plastic is becoming more and more common in photonics or telecommunications, imaging, cameras, you name it,” said Aaron Johnson, marketing manager at Accumold. “The fastest-growing area of interest involves diffractive or microstructures on the surface of plastics, where you get into sub-micron feature details.” Accumold recently opened a $7 million, 44,000-square-foot expansion that added 43 employees to its workforce and more than doubled the size of its facility.
CeramOptec highlighted a range of fiber optic solutions, including non-circular core silica optical fibers and bundle assemblies. The non-circular core silica optical fibers are offered in square, rectangular, octagon, hexagon, and V-shapes. A square fiber offers a more stable means of transmission than that of a circular core fiber as the spatial power distribution is more constant. Good image scrambling is characteristic of the square core fiber, and together with its low focal ratio degradation (FRD), improves image processing, making them ideal for astronomy applications. Because of their construction, bundles offer light management and physical flexibility. Manufacturing custom bundle configurations is CeramOptec's specialty — any fiber, any design, for any application.
CMC Electronics showcased their four-channel hermetically sealed fiber optic transceiver for military aircraft, commercial aircraft, UAV, UAS, and surface and subsurface watercraft. The transceiver incorporates proprietary ruggedization techniques suitable for applications requiring 100% reliability in extremely harsh environmental conditions and features 4 RX + 4TX channels (individually enabled), 12-fiber 50-µm core ribbon cable with MT termination, 2.125 Gbps/channel, capability up to 10 Gbps, operating temperature of -50°C to 115°C, and a weight of less than 12 g. “This transceiver has its roots in the Joint Strike Fighter Program, ” said Al Mottola, account manager, custom electronics, at CMC Electronics. “It is immune to most environmental conditions due to its hermetic design criteria.”
In addition to their regular lineup of emitters, LEDs, photonic detectors, and thermal infrared detectors, Excelitas showcased the new C30737CH Series silicon avalanche photodiodes (APDs). These APDs come in a side-looking LLC (laminated leadless carrier) package and are ideal for laser meter, range-finding, and area scanning applications. The LLC package has a distinct advantage over traditional thru-hole packaging because it allows for automated pick-and-place “side-looker” assembly on printed circuit boards. It also allows optical design for laser meter and range finding applications in the 500- to 1000-nm range. Additional areas of application include speed guns, optical communications, 3D laser scanning, and gesture recognition.
FLIR Systems, Inc.
FLIR Systems, Inc., launched the SC2600 near infrared (NIR) camera for research and science applications. The SC2600 combines a spectral sensitivity range of 0.9 to 1.7 µm and small 25-µm pixels and features a highly sensitive 640 × 512 InGaAs sensor. Other features include independent analog and digital (gigabit Ethernet) video outputs, external frame synchronization, video windowing, and independent data streams. FLIR also highlighted the SC8300 HD infrared camera, a 3- to 5-µm bandwidth measuring instrument with sensitivity greater than 20 mK. Not only is it a thermal imager, it is also radiometrically calibrated, which allows the user to do temperature measurement with the instrument.
Raptor Photonics showcased the OSPREY, a high-performance, cooled 4.2-megapixel scientific CMOS camera. The camera features a 2048 x 2048 low-noise scientific CMOS sensor, active pixel size of 5.5 µm x 5.5 µm for ultra-sharp image resolution, 12-bit CameraLink output, TE cooling down to -20°C, high-frame-rate imaging, quantum efficiency >64% at 610 nm and >35% at 845 nm, and an ultra-compact size of 86 mm x 65 mm x 61 mm. It is suited for cutting-edge, low-light scientific imaging applications, such as high-resolution microscopy, live cell imaging, bio-chemi-luminescence, astronomy, spectral (hyperspectral) imaging, biochip reading, and particle imaging velocimetry.
Allied Vision Technologies
Allied Vision Technologies highlighted the Bonito, a high-speed camera with a sensitive global shutter CMOS sensor. The Bonito CL-400B/C runs 386 fps at 4-megapixel resolution and has a 2 x 10-tap Camera Link Full+ interface. Higher frame rates can be reached with a smaller region of interest. The Bonito CL-400B/C 200 fps version runs 193 fps at full resolution and has a 1 x 10-tap Camera Link Full+ interface. It is suited for applications with high demands on image quality and very fast frame rates, motion capture with high resolution, 3D recordings of still and moving objects, science and research, medical imaging, and high-speed imaging in general.
B&W Tek, Inc.
B&W Tek, Inc., introduced their new spectral data acquisition software, the BWSpec 4.00. Attendees who work with multiple spectra simultaneously were particularly interested in this due to BWSpec’s spectral management system. This system allows users to select, deselect, save, and load overlapping spectra at the same time off of the spectrum information panel. The software’s ability to perform complex calculations and measurements make it suitable for a broad range of applications. BWSpec software features multiple data formats and the capability to optimize scanning parameters such as integration time and laser output power control.
BaySpec showcased its next-generation high-resolution Raman spectrometer, RamSpec-HR. This bench top Raman spectrometer features spectral resolution for the wavelength range up to 1700 nm. With multiple choice of laser input (532, 785, 1064, or custom), the RamSpec can be used for process control, routine analytical analysis, reaction monitoring, material identification, and mixture analysis. BaySpec also highlighted its new ultra-compact f/2 SuperGamut NIR Spectral Engine at the show. Applications include process automation technology, food processing, agricultural feed monitoring, semiconductor wafer monitoring, pulp and paper monitoring, and counterfeit goods detection. It covers wavelength ranges from 900 to 1700 nm, 1100 to 2200 nm, or 1250 to 2500 nm.
Boston Micromachines displayed the MEMS Optical Modulator, which was designed for use in free space optical communication systems. The modulator is a reflective diffraction grating with controllable groove depth. In the powered state, the MEMS Optical Modulator diffracts light, and in the unpowered state it reflects the light back. By bouncing a beam of any type of light off of it you can use it to modulate the light in a very quick binary type of fashion or you can use it to vary the intensity. The MEMS Optical Modulator design is based on Boston Micromachines’ heritage deformable mirror technology that uses hysteresis-free electrostatic actuators to periodically deform a continuous mirror facesheet.
Imec offered the first public showing of a hyperspectral camera solution based on a system-on-chip image sensor with an integrated hyperspectral sensor. It can achieve scanning speeds compatible with industrial requirements due to its integrated filter design and high spectral filter efficiency. Imec's fully integrated CMOS-compatible hyperspectral sensor consists of a set of spectral filters that are directly post-processed at wafer level on top of a commercially available CMOSIS CMV4000 image sensor (a 4-megapixel sensor with a maximum frame rate of 180 fps). Also at the show, imec and Genalyte announced that they have developed and produced a set of disposable silicon photonics biosensor chips to be used in Genalyte diagnostic and molecular detection equipment.
Ocean Optics announced the Maya2000 Pro-VIS-NIR, a back-thinned 2D FFT-CCD spectrometer with high sensitivity, 80% peak quantum efficiency, and excellent VIS-NIR response. It can be used for low-light-level applications such as Raman, and for analysis of gases used in semiconductor processing and measurement of biological samples in the life sciences. Also at the show, Ocean Optics named Nathan J. Withers the winner of the SPIE 2012 Young Investigator Award sponsored by the company. The award, which includes a $1,000 investigator gift and a company grant to the investigator’s advisor, is presented to a researcher who is no more than five years out of school and submits the best juried paper as part of the Colloidal Nanocrystals for Biomedical Applications VII conference.
QImaging showcased their new scientific CMOS camera, the Rolera Bolt, which is designed for demanding high-speed, low-light imaging. According to QImaging, it is less than half the cost of most scientific CMOS and CCD cameras. The Rolera Bolt features a high-quantum-efficiency 1.3-megapixel sensor (3.63-µm x 3.63-µm pixel size), low read noise (~ 3e-), and high-speed (30-fps full resolution) simultaneous readout. The Rolera Bolt is especially suited for biomedical imaging as more research moves toward live-cell and whole organism studies at video frame rates. It can also be used for life science applications using fluorescent labeling, including immunofluorescence, live-cell fluorescent imaging, ratiometric imaging, high-speed calcium imaging, time-lapse fluorescence, and fluorescence in situ hybridization.
Rigaku was on hand to discuss its FirstGuard and Xantus Raman spectrometers. The FirstGuard advanced handheld Raman spectrometer is designed to be taken into the warehouse or out to the field for real-time, fast sample identification. It is equipped with an integrated vial holder, switchable lithium ion battery, and optional barcode/RFID reader; can be used in GMP facilities; and can be configured with secure software for 21 CRF Part 11 compliance. The Xantus series of advanced portable Raman spectrometers was designed to meet the need for immediate field identification of chemical substances. Each Xantus has a 532-, 785-, or 1064-nm laser stabilized for Raman spectroscopy.
SCHOTT announced the launch of PURAVIS high-purity glass optical fibers. According to SCHOTT, PURAVIS offers outstanding transmission of white light – an increase of up to 10% achieved by using well-selected raw materials. Due to the lower color shift, illuminated objects retain their natural color, even if the fibers are used in long light guides, making PURAVIS suitable for medical applications such as endoscopy and surgical microscopy. SCHOTT also introduced two new filter glass types: BG60 and BG61. These blue glass (BG) filters offer resistance to heat and humidity and can cut the infrared from the visible light, e.g. in digital camera applications.