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  • Prism Awards Recognize Best of the Best

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2015
Nine innovations from across the globe took center stage last month at Prism Award ceremonies at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco. From mini-spectrometers, smartphone plug-ins and fiber lasers to scintillation crystals and optical connectors, the 2015 Prism Awards recognized the best of the best.

Prism Award Group Photo

The 2015 Prism Awards winners.

Sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the awards have been presented annually since 2009 in recognition of light-based technology that solves problems and improves quality of life.

Photonics Media Vice President and Sales Director Ryan F. Laurin told the Prism Awards audience that, while not everyone outside the industry knows the word “photonics,” efforts such as the International Year of Light and the Prism Awards are making a difference. “It’s starting to get around,” he said in his welcome remarks. “It’s starting to get seen, and we’re glad to be part of it.”

Robert Breault

Robert Breault of Breault Research Organization in Tucson, Ariz.

The winners were chosen by a panel of expert judges and announced by presenters from leading photonics companies during a gala dinner attended by 340 industry guests.

“This year – during the United Nations’ International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies – it is especially fitting to recognize and celebrate the remarkable ability of photonics to enable solutions to the world’s challenges,” said SPIE CEO Dr. Eugene Arthurs. “Ours is an industry of creative minds, and the Prism Awards give us an opportunity to celebrate some of the most outstanding among those.”

The 2015 winners in each category are:

Additive Manufacturing: Printoptical Technology by LUXeXceL of Kruiningen, Netherlands, is an additive, on-demand process for simple, affordable, scalable manufacturing of optical components and lenses using 3-D printing technology. It jets individual UV-curable material droplets, enabling optics testing with easy iterations and the possibility of customizing according to the application, project or particular product.

Biomedical Instrumentation: The Laser Microbial Growth Monitor from BacterioScan of St. Louis is a low-cost method of measuring bacteria in fluids at concentrations below the limit of detection of other state-of-the-art technologies. It can detect changes in bacterial growth within 10 percent and urinary tract infection within 90 minutes with >90 percent sensitivity, as well as complete antibiotic resistance measurements.

Detectors and Sensors: The Micro-spectrometer (C12666MA) from Hamamatsu of Japan is a fingertip-sized spectrometer consisting of a grating chip and CMOS image sensor chip facing each other across an air gap. It is fabricated with MOEMS technology and methods, to be integrated into equipment or connected to handheld mobile devices to perform spectral measurements such as point-of-care testing and color measurements. It is hermetically sealed, so it is usable in adverse conditions.

Imaging and Cameras: The Seek Thermal Camera from Seek Thermal (Goleta, Calif.) and Raytheon (Waltham, Mass.) is a lightweight smartphone plug-in that allows the capture and sharing of thermal photos and videos, with options to highlight subject matter above or below a specified temperature. It features nine look-up tables, and swipes between regular and thermal images.

Industrial Lasers: The GLPN-500-R from IPG Photonics of Oxford, Mass., is a 500-W quasi-continuous-wave, green single-mode fiber laser that brings the advantages of fiber laser technologies to the visible spectrum with high output power, excellent wall-plug efficiency and low cost. It provides industrial-grade reliability, excellent output beam quality, and flexibility of fiber delivery for industrial manufacturing applications from copper welding to solar cell manufacturing.

Materials and Coatings: The Stilbene Scintillation Crystals by Inrad Optics of Northvale, N.J., are large single crystals of stilbene grown from solution for fabricating into cylinders and other geometries. They are packaged in protective housing and coupled to a photodetector to become a neutron detection system. The availability of stilbene will enable next-generation systems to better detect neutrons in security, scientific and industrial applications.

Optics and Optical Components: The MXC Connector from Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.), Corning (Corning, N.Y.) and US Conec (Hickory, N.C.) is a parallel optical connector designed with advanced composite, precision-molded plastics to meet the needs of next-generation data centers for a new class of connectors that carry more data. It is smaller, more resilient, not prone to dust contamination and available at a lower cost, and it supports up to 64 fibers with 25 Gb/s per fiber. IT managers will be able to install cables carrying 1.6 Tb/s of data.

WiTec Instruments Corp

Radomir Kopriva of Tescan Orsay Holding AS, Dr. Klaus Weishaupt of WITec Instruments Corp., Jeff Streger of TescAn U.S.A. Inc., and Steve Rapp of WITec Instruments Corp. celebrate their win in the metrology instrumentation category.

Metrology Instrumentation:
RISE Microscopy from WITec (Ulm, Germany) and Tescan Orsay (Czech Republic) combines scanning electron and Raman spectroscopies for chemical imaging, enabling correlation of ultrastructural and chemical information with one microscope system for comprehensive sample characterization. It can generate 2-D and 3-D images and depth profiles to visualize distribution of molecular compounds within a sample.

Scientific Lasers: The WhiteLase SC400-20 from Fianium of Southampton, England, is a single widely tunable laser source that produces high power output across the visible and near-infrared spectrum for applications ranging from medicine to electronic devices. It provides unprecedented spectral brightness across the 400- to 2400-nm range, and with the addition of a tunable filter, it can deliver over 100 mW of tunable (narrowband) output power at any wavelength.

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