News | August 11, 2010

Future-Enhancing Photonics Applications Draw International Attention At SPIE Optics And Photonics


International gathering of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers in San Diego pushes frontiers of nanoscience, photonics, and optoelectronics

Technologies that will transform the future in profound ways dominated the conversation at the SPIE Optics and Photonics symposium in San Diego last week, 1-5 August. More than 4,250 scientists, researchers, and developers and 233 exhibiting companies convened for one of the largest interdisciplinary international gatherings in optics, photonics, and optoelectronics.

Reports on significant new work in green photonics technologies -- such as photovoltaics for solar power, and solid-state and organic light-emitting diodes lighting -- illustrated the event's role as a unique synergetic forum for nanotechnology, photonic devices, optics and optical engineering.

Solid-state lighting received heavy emphasis in several invited sessions, and in a conference celebrating its tenth anniversary at SPIE Optics and Photonics this year.

In a symposium-wide plenary talk, Jeffrey Tsao (Sandia National Labs) noted several effects on the use and perception of illumination that will come into play as a result of the digital nature of solid-state lighting: the ability to light only where and as much as is needed for a particular task, smart systems that turn on and off as people enter and leave a space, and inexpensive systems that can provide lighting in developing regions. Tsao predicted that solid-state lighting will surpass compact fluorescent lighting in efficiency by 2012.

Ian Ferguson (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) touched on evidence for the positive health benefits of full-spectrum light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in regulating circadian rhythm -- the physiological "clock" in each of us that regulates our alertness, appetite, and other daily patterns.

Decreasing costs and increasing efficiency in solar energy, and the creation of energy from a revolutionary laser fusion project were also prime topics.

Gang Li (Solarmer Energy) announced that Solarmer's organic photovoltaics system a few weeks ago achieved a world-record efficiency of 8.13%, certified by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab. The system uses technology licensed from Univ. of California, Los Angeles, and the Univ. of Chicago.

John Rogers (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) described his lab's success with a concentrating small cell using ball-bearing micro-optics to focus light -- the world's smallest solar cell.

Energy from laser fusion could be commercial by 2030, said Ed Moses, project director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, in the symposium's opening plenary talk. Moses said NIF is now looking at a concept for commercial energy production it is calling laser inertial fusion energy (LIFE), and a system of LIFE plants that could provide 25% of the U.S. energy production by 2050.

See brief video clips from SPIE Newsroom interviews of presenters including:

  • Roger Angel (Univ. of Arizona) on the cost-effectiveness of concentrated photovoltaics
  • David Andrews (Univ. of East Anglia Norwich), NanoScience/Engineering Symposium Chair, with an overview of the symposium
  • Ed Moses on the NIF project.

Busy exhibit showcases photonics for a better world
Companies were pleased with the traffic in the exhibit hall. The event was "much bigger and better than we expected," said Arnie Bazensky of SCHOTT North America. "We got many solid leads and are looking at writing orders from some -- good crowd, good quality."

High-tech cars and other consumer-level applications of photonics technologies were featured in the SPIE Photonics for a Better World pavilion. The pavilion also showcased several projects bringing energy-efficient lighting and cooking capabilities to the developing world.

A display of more than 100 vintage lasers and a photo tribute to the technology and its developers continued the year-long SPIE Advancing the Laser celebration of the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser.

Achivements honored
Charles Townes (Univ. of California, Berkeley) was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society, the highest honor the Society bestows, in recognition of his extraordinary foresight in seeing the potential of the laser and coherent light 50 years ago and other achievements. Townes was awarded the 1964 Noble Prize in Physics for work that helped lead to the invention of the laser.

Other awards announced at the banquet were the SPIE President's Award to Kevin Harding (GE Global Research), SPIE Directors' Award to Malgorzata Kujawinska (Warsaw Univ. of Technology), Joseph Goodman Book Writing Award to Lihong Wang and Hsin-I Wu, Chandra Vikram Award in Optical Metrology to James Wyant (College of Optical Sciences, Univ. of Arizona), George Goddard Award to Moustafa Chahine (Jet Propulsion Lab), Dennis Gabor Award to Mitsuo Takeda (Univ. of Electro-Communications), Harold Edgerton Award to Gary Eden (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Technology Achievement Award to Akhlesh Lakhtakia (Pensylvania State Univ.), Rudolph Kingslake Medal and Prize to Juergen Jahns, Hans Knuppertz, and Michael Bohling, SPIE Educator Award to Nicholas Massa (Springfield Technical Community College), and Early Career Achievement Award to Alberto Salleo (Stanford Univ.).

New officers, board members
Election of new officers and directors was announced at the Society's general meeting during the week

Officers for are 2011 President Katarina Svanberg, professor and Chief Physician in Oncology at Lund Univ.; President-Elect Eustace Dereniak, professor at the College of Optical Sciences, Univ. of Arizona; Vice President William Arnold, Chief Scientist and Vice President of Technology Development Center at ASML USA; and Secretary/Treasurer Brian Lula, president and CEO of PI (Physik Instrumente).

Elected as Directors for three-year terms starting in 2011 were:

  • Peter Hartmann, Director, Market and Customer Relations, Advanced Optics, SCHOTT AG
  • Joseph Howard, Optical Engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Lisa Tsufura, Marketing Manager/Product Manager, CVI Laser Group
  • Toyohiko Yatagai, Professor, Utsunomiya Univ.

Publication options grow
New publication announcements included the SPIE Journal of Photonics for Energy (JPE), set to publish its first papers in January. Zakya Kafafi (U.S. National Science Foundation) is the journal's editor. SPIE is launching JPE to provide a cohesive source for publications focused on photonics for energy applications, to help advance solutions to the world's needs for energy production, storage, transmission, efficiency, and clean technology, said SPIE President Ralph James., a photonics industry site, held a launch party celebrating its new platform. The site is now under the ownership of SPIE Events Europe.

Conference proceedings papers will be published individually in the SPIE Digital Library as soon as approved after the meeting, and also in collected print and digital volumes and collections.

About SPIE
SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.