The sun in San Francisco gave way to rain for the closing day of Photonics West 2014. But the rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the record-number of exhibitors and attendees.
SPIE reported that there were 21,360 registered for Photonics West this year, up 8% over last year and setting another attendance record. And the 1256 exhibiting companies also exceeded last year’s record. On the technical side, there was a 3% growth in the number of technical presentations (4700 this year).
The Startup Challenge, which lets entrepreneurs pitch their developments, is one of the greatest examples of moving ideas to market. This year's event, sponsored by
Jenoptik, Edmund Optics, Trumpf, Open Photonics and Knobbe Martens, awarded $15,000 in cash and equipment to an application that is, not surprisingly, designed for the medical industry. Robert McLaughlin of the University of Western Australia won the Challenge for his microscope-in-a-needle product.
The miniaturized fibre optic probe is designed to help surgeons “see the edge of cancer,” thus enabling more successful cancer surgeries.
As expected, there were a lot of great ideas demonstrated through market applications. In the session “Executive Perspectives on the World of Optics and Photonics” a group of industry leaders talked about the real-world implementation of light technologies. A sentiment heard repeatedly throughout the show is the defence spending is down, not just in the US, but throughout the world, therefore leaving some photonics businesses to seek new markets. All the panellists agreed that life sciences and health care are areas of increasing focus, but also noted were automotive, lighting and the semiconductor manufacturing. Interestingly, Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation winning applications fall into the security, 3D printing, food safety, medical diagnostics and others, but with a large number falling into the life sciences category.
The application of light-based technologies in the area of solar energy production was the topic of the Green Photonics panel session. Industry leaders agreed that R&D from around the world is continually evolving new materials and technologies that are increasing efficiencies, most notably perovskites, a major focus of global research efforts.
Seen on the show floor
Out on the show floor, we asked a number of companies about their market emphasis. Among Coherent’s traditional laser portfolio the company had a strong focus at PW on materials processing for industrial applications. Edinburgh launched a fluorescence spectrometer for the research and analytical market. Lightworks Optical Systems, which was acquired by II-VI and merged with Exotic Electro-Optics offers integrated optical components, assemblies and systems for medical, aerospace, commercial and surveillance/security markets. One of the products introduced at PW by Qioptiq (recently acquired by Excelitas) is the iFLEX Viper, a compact multi-wavelength laser engine designed for biotech and metrology applications. At the Flir booth, the big news was breaking the price barrier in cooled infrared for security and surveillance applications.
Next year’s Photonics West will take place 7 to 12 February 2015 at the Moscone Centre, San Francisco, California (US).
Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Novus Light Technologies Today