News | January 27, 2012

Research-Industry Synergy Strong At SPIE Photonics West 2012


SPIE Photonics West was back with more again this year: more technical papers, exhibiting companies, exhibit visitors, conference attendees, professional development courses, and even more networking. Well established as the premier international photonics conference and exhibition, the event drew just over 20,000 registered attendees to the Moscone Center in San Francisco 21-26 January.

Enthusiasm and optimism ran high in the synergy between conference rooms and the exhibit floor that characterizes Photonics West.

"It's very impressive," said Matthias Machnig, Minister of Economy, Labor and Technology for the German Federal State Thuringen. Machnig was at Photonics West to talk during the laser symposium plenary session. He cited the "good balance" between the exhibition and the scientific base provided by the technical sessions as a vital link for inspiring future innovations. (Machnig will be featured in one of many video interviews from the event in the SPIE Newsroom.)

From the exhibition perspective, "This show rocks," in the words of Arnie Bazensky manager of field sales for SCHOTT's western U.S. Operations. SCHOTT was among more than 210 companies in the weekend BiOS Expo and the more than 1,200 exhibiting companies in the three-day Photonics West Exhibition mid-week.

The widely reported exhibitor experience of heavy traffic and strong leads offered compelling signs that the photonics industry continues to be strong even in the midst of uncertainties elsewhere in the global economy.

"The number of sales leads was much more than last year, almost 50 percent up in our booth," said Kevin Heher, sales manager for imaging solutions at BAE Systems.

Conference chairs praised the quality of papers they heard, and offered particularly outstanding examples from among the approximately 4,200 presentations. A sampling includes:

  • Stefan Hell (Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie) described work on the use of super-resolution microscopy for imaging of the living brain.
  • Aydogan Ozcan (University of California, Los Angeles) described the latest work in his lab's development of a portable microscope that uses a cell phone as a wireless platform for transmitting medical data, via a holographic reconstruction imaging method.
  • Guillermo Tearney (Massachusetts General Hospital) told how applications of cardiovascular imaging to pathology are changing the views of the medical community on the cause-and-effect relationship between plaque and thrombosis that may lead to coronary events.
  • Toshikuni Kaino (Tohoku University) presented findings on using photonics polymers for communications networks to power energy-efficient displays, allowing face-to-face communications in disaster areas.
  • Rainer Erdmann and Felix Koberling (PicoQuant) described the role of UV microscopy and detection of intrinsic fluorescence of biological samples in a first commercial step toward development of new label-free fluorescence microscopy.

Plenary talks in lasers, optoelectronics, MOEMS-MEMS, and nanobiophotonics and hot topic papers in biomedical optics were also technical highlights.

Awards were presented for the best papers in Green Photonics as part of a virtual symposium, underscoring another theme in current photonics R&D supporting transition to renewable and sustainable energy and manufacturing worldwide.

Robert Alfano (City College of New York) was presented with the first-ever Britton Chance Award in Biomedical Optics, and James Coleman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) was presented with the SPIE Technology Award for 2012.

Two start-up challenge competitions sponsored by Jenoptik helped aspiring entrepreneurs move their ideas for new products closer to the market, and several industry panels helped focus expert attention on issues such as integrated photonics and green technology.

Nine companies won recognition for their innovative products at the gala Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation banquet. The awards are sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE.

Read more reports on technical papers and event activities and view photo galleries in the daily report from on site at

Accepted papers will be published in the SPIE Digital Library as soon as approved after the meeting, and in print volumes and digital collections.

For more on SPIE Photonics West, visit

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. SPIE provided over $2.5 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2011.The SPIE Digital Library includes over 325,000 items from Proceedings of SPIE, SPIE Journals, and SPIE eBooks. For more information, visit .