The nearly 15,000 attendees at last month's Photonics West show in San Jose, Calif., were upbeat and enthusiastic about the state of the photonics industry. A total of 800 exhibitors filled two halls (space had to be added at the last minute to accommodate the demand for booths). According to Eugene Arthurs, executive director of SPIE, the organizer of the show, courses and technical programs were better attended than ever.The conference began with the Biomedical Optics Exhibition, with attendance up 20 percent over last year. Sixty exhibitors showed off their light-based tools for biomedical applications, including precision optical filters and coatings, tungsten light sources for spectroscopy and software used in imaging systems. A "Hot Topics" session included nine presentations by conference chairmen. The Photonics West professional development courses also were well-attended, the first of which covered optoelectronics opportunities in homeland security taught by Dennis Killinger of the University of South Florida in Tampa. Also taking place was the Integrated Optoelectronic Devices Symposium, which was chaired by Nasser Peyghambarian of the University of Arizona in Tucson and Gernot Pomrenek of the US Air Force's Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va. In summarizing the conference, Arthurs said that what was most noticeable was the energy. "The energy was up more than attendance." He noted that, while talking with exhibitors, he told them there was "a strong sense that the buzz was back." He suggested looking at the increase in orders in 2003 among the public companies to get an idea of the upswing in the industry. Something new this year was the cluster breakfast. Arthurs believes that clusters are important to the industry, as cities and regions vie to attract photonics companies. He also indicated that the Photonics Circle of Excellence Awards ceremony was well-attended. In a standing-room-only hall, the late Harvey Pollicove was remembered and awarded the annual Distinction in Photonics Award for his contribution to the optics industry, and 25 companies received awards for the most technically innovative new products of 2003. Next year's Photonics West will take place at the San Jose Convention Center from Jan. 22 to 27.