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  • Hearing Is Believing

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2010
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. - Winston Churchill

Karen A. Newman

Exhibitors at Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2010, held Oct. 24-28 in Rochester, N.Y., were a pretty bullish bunch, sharing news about hirings, product innovations, facility expansions and other positive developments with the kind of optimism you have to look past the headlines to find these days. And I wasn’t the only one who heard it.

After the meeting, I asked FiO organizers at OSA how this year’s event reflected the current state of the economy and the industry, and what conclusions event officials would draw about the short-term future of the industry based on what they saw and heard at the event. The response came from FiO’s 2010 general co-chair, Karl Koch of Corning Inc., who said, “Frontiers in Optics consistently provides the best venue for optics and photonics professionals to network with their colleagues, hear about cutting-edge research and see what’s hot in the industry; FiO 2010 was no exception.”

Koch noted that the show’s attendees hold strong optimism about the future of optics research and applications for near- and long-term markets. “As the name of the show implies, researchers and companies that attend Frontiers in Optics are on the forefront of developments in their field,” he said. “In specific areas of research, biomed is an especially exciting area – we saw presentations on everything from using LEDs to treat skin cancer to monitoring bone density for signs of osteoporosis using infrared light.

“Despite the situation affecting many sectors of the US economy, I was pleased to see that exhibiting company representatives were overwhelmingly positive this year, indicating an optics industry that is upbeat, and taking on the challenges of the current economic situation. Though much of the work reported at the meeting is research whose impact won’t be felt for a few years, there was certainly good news in application areas like telecommunications, photovoltaics and bio-optics.”

FiO 2010 attracted more than 1700 attendees and more than 85 exhibitors, according to OSA; this reflects an increase over last year’s meeting in San Jose and is consistent with other years when the event was held in Rochester. Among the many attractions at this year’s meeting were a number of awards as well as keynote addresses by award winners Joseph Eberly (OSA’s Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment), and Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn (APS’ Arthur Schawlow Prize). LaserFest events were new and widely attended, as were two special symposia: the Arthur Ashkin Honorary and the Symposium on Optical Communications. Not surprisingly, OSA reported “a lot of blogging and social media activity around the show, which was a new way of bringing people together” – a fitting result for this relatively young and thoroughly modern industry.

I enjoyed a tour of Sydor Optics’ nearby facility, where the optimism was tangible and the artistry of the pitch table left a lingering impression of dedication and precision. I have always enjoyed the bustle and hum of a production facility, and this one did not disappoint.

As we close out 2010, I extend my thanks to all who contributed to the success of Photonics Spectra this year. We look forward to working with you in 2011, and I hope you’ll contact me at

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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