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  • A Brighter Future for Manufacturing?

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2012

In the US, as in Europe, initiatives are proposed or under way to link optics and photonics technologies to a strong and highly innovative economic future by developing public-private partnerships.

We have been covering one such initiative in the US for many months now, and Photonics Media was on hand when industry leaders announced the release of the National Academy of Sciences report Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Senior Editor Melinda Rose filed a report from SPIE’s Optics and Photonics conference in August, and you can find it at

Last month, several organizations presented the report to crucial audiences in Washington. “Optics and photonics are incredibly important to the US economy and its competitiveness in the 21st century,” said former Intel president and CEO Craig Barrett in his address to an audience of 100 federal agency staff and other stakeholders as part of the effort. The event, Essential Technologies for Our Future: Optics and Photonics Leading the Way, was sponsored by OSA, the American Physical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society and SPIE.

“As the report concludes, the promise of optics and photonics can be realized if the United States acts now to cultivate this versatile scientific field through collaborative research and development activities and coordinated support from the public, academic and private sectors working together,” OSA Vice President Philip H. Bucksbaum said as he welcomed attendees to the event.

The report examined optics and photonics in several application areas – communications, information processing and data storage; defense and national security; energy; health and medicine; advanced manufacturing; strategic materials; and displays – focusing on their enabling nature and their role in facilitating economic growth.

Better robots and more

It seems fitting that the focus of our feature content this month is photonics in manufacturing, including the latest on 3-D imaging for robots used in manufacturing. Please visit our features section, beginning on page 37; in addition to the story on robot vision, you’ll find articles about light sources for both micromachining and for extreme-ultraviolet lithography.

For Photonics Media’s continuing coverage of the NAS report and the future of its proposed initiatives, visit for news as well as video coverage on Light Matters, the industry’s premier weekly newscast. We’ll continue to talk with leaders at the forefront of the effort to bring to life the report’s initiatives, and we’ll let you know what we find out – and what it all means for you. In the meantime, we’d like to know what you think. I invite your comments at

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