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Optics Pioneer Dereniak to Lead SPIE in 2012

Photonics.com
Dec 2011
TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 22, 2011 — Optics and engineering pioneer Eustace L. Dereniak will become president of SPIE in January.

An optical sciences and engineering professor at the University of Arizona, Dereniak has explored the frontiers of optics and engineering for nearly five decades to help create breakthroughs in medicine, military hardware and astronomy, among others.

“The 21st century will be the photon century, just as the 20th century was the century of the electron,” Dereniak said. “The photon is three orders of magnitude faster than the electron, and by harnessing it, we are working at the speed of light.”

In his university labs, Dereniak and his team have advanced methods to capture information at long distances to identify an object from the spectra of light on its surface — a technique called snapshot spectroscopy. The method gathers an instant “snapshot” of all the objects in a field of view, rather than taking time to focus on objects at particular points.

He also has studied ways to use photonics to uncover information about objects that use the polarity of photons on their surfaces. Photons can assume one of four kinds of polarity, and detecting their polarization can reveal much about the object’s characteristics.

His experience in optics and engineering spans a broad range of organizations. He worked at Willow Run Laboratories of Michigan Institute of Science and Technology during the Cold War era to find ways to use infrared technology to detect the electromagnetic signatures of vehicles re-entering our atmosphere from space. He also worked at Rockwell International on optical systems before moving on to Ball Brothers Research Corp., where he helped build instruments for weather satellites using infrared systems in space.

As a professor at the university, he developed infrared systems and detectors, and later studied geometrical optics and the silicon-based infrared detectors that play a key role in cryogenic (supercooled) telescopes. During the Star Wars era in the 1980s, Dereniak helped develop infrared systems to monitor weapons using spectrometry. He worked with the military on intelligence-gathering aircraft at the research-centered Hanscom Air Force Base and on optics applications such as camouflage systems at the US Army’s Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

In the 1990s, after Desert Storm, Dereniak worked on ways to employ snapshot image spectrometers to detect missiles launched to attack tanks.

For more information, visit: www.uanews.org  


GLOSSARY
geometrical optics
The area of optics in which the propagation of light is described by geometrical lines (or rays) governed by Fermat’s Principle. Geometrical optics is useful as long as the objects in which the light rays interact are much larger than the wavelength of the light (lenses, mirrors, stops, etc.). In geometrical optics, the wave nature of light is ignored and light is thought to travel in straight lines only to be reflected or refracted at a surface. Geometrical optics is the foundation for...
photonics
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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