SAN JOSE, Calif., January 28 – The mood at Photonics West 2004 can be best described in one word: happy. The organizers were happy -- attendance as of Wednesday had already exceeded the anticipated 13,000; attendees seemed happy as they scurried around the convention center attempting to touch base with the more than 800 exhibiting companies; exhibitors were happy to see attendees who were serious potential customers, as opposed to tire kickers. The upbeat mood reflected the recent upturn in the economy. No longer were companies plagued by a sluggish economy that offered no sight of the end of the tunnel, never mind any light. Companies that Photonics.com talked to universally had good news to report. Companies across the spectrum of photonics firms reported increased business that ranged from increased Q1 and Q2 bookings to outright increases in sales of up to 80 percent over the past six months. With the possible exception of telecom applications, business was reported as growing across all photonics-related applications. Even more encouraging was a renewed interest in pushing ahead with new product development and in exploring new markets. Several companies interviewed by Photonics.com spoke of work currently underway on projects that will not see fruition for five or six years. In all, the mood reflects what appears to be a consensus about the economy: Happy days may indeed be back again.