SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 19, 2013 — A record number of international participants at SPIE Photonics West 2013, held Feb. 2-7 at the Moscone Center, made the event “the place to meet” for researchers, developers and suppliers of optics and photonics technology.
The premier international photonics conference and exhibit had nearly 21,000 registered attendees — up 2 percent from last year — and featured more technical papers and exhibiting companies than the 2012 event.
“Photonics West is the place to meet everybody we need to,” said Robert Miller, business manager of Optoelectronics and Photovoltaics at EMD Chemicals. “Because we’re not just a photonics company, it’s very important to be able to expand our horizons, and with so many diverse companies here, it really fits our needs.”
The BiOS Expo pulled in 224 exhibiting companies, while the three-day Photonics West exhibition featured more than 1200.
Even more than numbers of booth visitors, exhibitors have said they were happy with the quality. “This is the best Photonics West I’ve seen in 10 years, and they all are great,” said Kerry Van Iseghem, co-founder of Imaging Solutions Group.
“In past years, people stopping at the booth have asked, ‘Who are you? What do you do?’ ” said Bonnie Van Wie, marketing communications coordinator at OFS Specialty Photonics. “This year, people know what we do. They’re saying, ‘I have this application — how can you help me?’ or ‘I have an idea — how can I work with you on this?’ ”
Strong exhibitor presence wasn’t the only positive feedback from the show. The conference offered more than 4500 technical papers presented in four major areas: biomedical optics, lasers, optoelectronics and MOEMS-MEMS (micro-opto-electromechanical and micro-electromechanical systems). Attendance was strong despite concern around US government travel funding restrictions.
“We’re at the point now where many of the technologies that are being developed here can be translated to clinical applications and have real-world clinical impacts,” BiOS symposium chair Jim Fujimoto of MIT said in regard to the challenge for the community in the face of pressure on federal funds for research.
LASE symposium chair Andreas Tünnermann, of Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering and Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, said he found optimism among conference attendees from science and from industry, despite financial troubles in Europe and elsewhere.
“People are looking at a bright future; they believe in what they are doing,” Tünnermann said. “They are here to think about a lot of products and to bring these products to the market.”
An ongoing theme of the week was the potential for the technology and the commitment on the part of researchers to “help others,” said BiOS symposium chair Rox Anderson of Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. A session on new biomedical optics technologies with life-saving potential illustrated his point. Among the eight talks were the following:
- Ernst Baumberg (Max Planck Institute) spoke on optogenetics, a relatively new field that uses light to map and control living brain or nerve tissues, and loss of sight, stroke and other conditions.
- Ben Potsaid (MIT) gave a talk on optical coherence tomography, a powerful optical technique for imaging through living tissue and mapping blood flow for disease diagnostics.
- Jonathan Sorger (Intuitive Surgical) discussed the use of robotics in surgery and their influence in reducing bleeding, chance of infection and length of hospital stay.
Green photonics technologies to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing, lighting and computing received special focus. Among the events was a panel discussion by industry executives on opportunities in emerging sustainable technologies; in addition, awards recognized top papers in the field.
Ten companies were honored with Prism Awards for photonics innovation Wednesday evening at a gala banquet sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE. (See: Prism Awards Honor Innovations in Photonics
Innovations were also spotlighted at the SPIE Startup Challenge pitch contest for aspiring photonics entrepreneurs.
“Our attendees were very happy in San Francisco this week, because Photonics West is the best place to connect with other researchers, engineers, executives and suppliers, discover what’s new, and develop insights and ideas that only happen when smart people come together for face-to-face conversations,” said Peter Hallett, SPIE marketing and industry relations director.
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