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  • Biophotonics a big focus for Laser Munich

Mar 2013
Laura Marshall, Managing Editor,

MUNICH – Laser surgery, optical techniques for diagnosis and photonics-based treatments will be featured when the biennial Laser World of Photonics and the accompanying World of Photonics Congress are held this spring. The technical conference will welcome visitors to the International Congress Center München May 12 to 16, and the exhibition will be held May 13 to 16 in the adjacent Messe München trade fair center.

The 2013 fair will revolve around three focus topics: Biophotonics and Medical Technology, Lasers and Laser Systems for Production Engineering, and Illumination and Energy.

The biophotonics portion of the event will include a presentation by Germany’s Biophotonics Research Group, founded in 2002 and funded by the Federal Ministry of Research. Examples of the group’s work include using superresolution light nanoscopy to examine living cells, and techniques to identify bacteria early and improve hygiene in hospitals.

The primary focus of biophotonics research is currently on diagnostic methods, said Dr. Carsten M. Philipp, president of the German Association for Laser Medicine and Chief Senior Physician in the laser medicine department at the Evangelical Elisabeth Clinic in Berlin. “Photonics techniques make it possible to characterize and depict groups of cells – i.e., to differentiate between sick and healthy cells in living organisms on location, without taking tissue samples and practically ‘on the fly’– i.e., in real time,” he said.

Cancer diagnosis by endoscope: Fluorescence makes cancer cells recognizable. Courtesy of Martin Kriegmair/Herbert Stepp.

Approaches such as optical coherence tomography, confocal and two-photon microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy are already at work in the laboratory. The challenge is developing clinic-ready devices that can be integrated into endoscopes, said Dr. Ronald Sroka, head of the Laser Research Laboratory at the Life Center of the Ludwig Maximilian University Clinic in Munich, where he is working on new techniques of this type. He is also secretary general of the German Association for Laser Medicine.

Philipp and Sroka will chair an application panel with practical lectures on research trends and physicians’ needs; other lecture series will focus on optical diagnostics and ophthalmology, lasers for analysis and imaging, and endoscopy.

Using photodynamic therapy on two basal cell carcinomas: Doctors use a medication that is applied selectively to the diseased tissue. In the second step, the medication is activated by light at a certain wavelength. Courtesy of Carsten M. Philipp.

In addition, the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics will be held in conjunction with the World of Photonics Congress from May 12 to 16, organized by The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE.

Manufacturing, lighting and more

Lasers for manufacturing – and, particularly, laser-based additive manufacturing – will get a lot of attention at this year’s show. “Generative manufacturing makes it possible to produce geometries of almost unlimited complexity, including those with internal structures,” said Dr. Wilhelm Meiners of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT). “This makes it possible to design and optimize components for specific functions without having to worry about the restrictions associated with conventional manufacturing techniques.” As part of the application panels, Meiners and Maximilian Meixlsperger of the BMW Group will supervise a session with user presentations on additive manufacturing.

Another targeted topic will be semiconductor light sources such as LEDs and OLEDs. LEDs are well established for smartphones, TVs and cars, and they’re catching on for private and public illumination as well. “Among other things, this development is being driven by the fact that LED lights are being incorporated into intelligent networks for business control as well as by new concepts for financing and providing lighting solutions such as ‘light contracting’ energy providers for street lighting,” said Prof. Dr. Andreas Tünnermann, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. And OLEDs offer brand-new design options, from ultraflat to flexible and even transparent lighting.

Transparent luminaires: These OLED tiles let through 57 percent of incident light and have a luminous flux of 20 lumens per watt. Courtesy of Osram.

The event also will feature optical metrology and its applications in industry, medicine and science. Metrology trends of note will be spectral analysis and hyperspectral imaging; the growing use of fiber optic sensors that enable distributed measurements of temperature and strain, for example; and improved testing techniques that allow faster, easier manufacture of object lenses with increased quality for a wide range of tasks.

After 40 years, Laser Munich is just as relevant as it was when it began – perhaps even more so. “Photonics has justifiably – and in the meantime even politically – been identified as one of the key technologies for the current century,” said Dr. Wilhelm Kaenders, chairman of the Technical Advisory Board for Laser World of Photonics and CEO of Toptica Photonics AG. “On all continents, optical tools contribute considerably to helping us deal with the great challenges of our time. Photonics provides solutions in a wide variety of sectors such as power engineering, mobility, information and communication, safety technology and health care.”

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