Aaron Hand, Senior Editor/Technology; Robert Pini, News Editor; and Herb Kaplan and Jörg Schwartz, Contributing Editors
Industrial applications of photonic systems are growing steadily as manufacturers realize the benefits of light-based technologies. Laser systems help to create products by cutting, drilling and welding materials; imaging and analysis systems work "downstream" to assess product quality.
These two simple statements hardly describe the breadth of photonic components that operate in industrial settings. Laser systems require optics, motion control, light delivery systems (optics or optical fiber) and instruments to assess their operation (and these instruments, in turn, comprise a collection of optics, detectors and electronics). Imaging systems include lighting, optics, detectors, electronics, imaging boards, and analysis software. Photonic analysis includes interferometry, microscopy, spectroscopy and their derivatives, and the related optics, detectors, light sources, light delivery, data acquisition and software.