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Franco-American Optical Alliances
Feb 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 5, 2010 – Last night, after the first day of the Photonics West Exhibition had wound down to a close, a gathering of Francophiles occurred at the nearby Westin Hotel. About 50 people arrived to find out whether collaboration between American and French photonics innovators was practical, feasible and desirable. They were not disappointed.

“France is very active in optics and photonics,” asserted Jean Claude Sirieys of the French National Optics and Photonics Committee (CNOP) during his opening remarks. He cautioned, however, that although intra-European partnering is easy, French-American collaborations are far more complex.

Jean Claude Sirieys, the president of the French National Optics and Photonics Committee (CNOP), addresses the French-American Meeting for Photonics Innovation. Photos by Lynn Savage.

France is aswarm with clusters of photonics companies and institutions, including Elopsis, Optitec, Route des Lasers and Systematic/OpticsValley. Each of these are designed to bridge competitive interests and drive innovation in specific market segments, such as high technologies, optics and imaging systems, lasers, and optoelectronics and software.

According to Sirieys, a new nursery for nascent photonics companies, called the Technoptic Building, will open later this year in Château-Gombert, just north of Marseilles.

After further opening salvos from Alexei Glebov of Optigrate Corp. in Orlando, Fla., the floor was given over to several companies who were looking to state their case for potential collaborations.

For example, Robert Braunschweig of Amplitude Systemes in Pessac, France, noted that his company is poised to take advantage of the boom in micromachining of medical devices. Smaller and smaller biocompatible devices are becoming required by doctors and hospitals, including such items as labs-on-a-chip, stents and various other implants. Amplitude Systemes, which makes ultrafast diode-pumped lasers that are efficient and accurate for manufacturing these items, is looking to for collaborators who will integrate the French company’s laser systems into their own products.

Richard Palomo of Cilas speaks at the French-American Meeting for Photonics Innovation as Philippe Bregi of Egide and Matthieu Ayfre of the University of Bordeaux Office of Technology Transfer look on.

Other French companies presenting at the meeting included Imagine Optic SA of Orsay and Alpao of Biviers, who both develop adaptive optics systems. Also there was Richard Palermo of the Marseilles branch of Cilas, which recently rolled out the world’s largest optical coating chamber, capable of handling components up to 2 m by 2 m by 400 mm.

To wrap up the meeting, Matthieu Ayfre, licensing manager at the University of Bordeaux Office of Technology Transfer, spoke briefly of the challenges and benefits of engaging businesses and universities together.

The members of the audience seemed enthusiastic to engage with their French and American counterparts immediately.

Lynn Savage

adaptive optics
Optical components or assemblies whose performance is monitored and controlled so as to compensate for aberrations, static or dynamic perturbations such as thermal, mechanical and acoustical disturbances, or to adapt to changing conditions, needs or missions. The most familiar example is the "rubber mirror,'' whose surface shape, and thus reflective qualities, can be controlled by electromechanical means. See also active optics; phase conjugation.
A sub-field of photonics that pertains to an electronic device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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