WASHINGTON, DC, June 14 -- Attendance at the 2004 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/International Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC) was up 7 percent from 2003, and paper presentations increased 31 percent, with 1733 presentations and 16 parallel sessions, according to the show's organizers -- the American Physical Society's Laser Science Division, the Institute of Electronic Engineers/Laser and Electro-Optics Society and the Optical Society of America (OSA). CLEO, which showcases research and applications in laser science, quantum optics and related fields, was held last month at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. Attendance was 5,857, a 7 percent increase over last year. With 2674 technical attendees, the conference also saw a 10 percent increase in those attending scientific sessions. Events including the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the maser, attosecond photonics and the plenary session itself were standing room only. Of the nearly 300 companies that exhibited at CLEO 2004, about 20 percent of the companies came from outside the US, OSA said. "We're excited by the resounding success of the 2004 CLEO/IQEC conference," said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA's executive director. "CLEO/IQEC is a world class conference with high-quality sessions and internationally known speakers. The increase in attendance this year and the success of our new conference, PhAST, reinforces CLEO/IQEC's important role as a leader in encouraging scientific innovation within the field." Presentations and papers showcased exciting new discoveries and applications in optics, quantum electronics and laser science. Hot topics at the 2004 conference included terahertz spectroscopy, a BioCD with interferometry, lasers in nanotechnologies, high-speed communications and photonics crystals -- from nanocavities to butterfly wings. In addition, CLEO/IQEC added four new program areas this year, including optical metrology, displays and solid-state lightening devices, high-field physics and other topics in quantum electronics and laser science. The introduction of PhAST, a co-located conference focused on photonics, applications systems and technologies, provided attendees with another option for analyzing applications of laser science and quantum electronics, focusing on topics such as biophotonics instrumentation, photonics for national security and lasers in manufacturing. The program kicked off with a welcome reception, keynote presentations and an Innovation Award presentation. Crystal Fibre received the Innovation Award at Monday's plenary session, for its work on air-clad photonic crystal fibers and high-power single-mode lasers. Other highlights from the PhAST program included a special lunch with industry leaders -- a sold-out event that included a business management and panel discussion and keynote presentations on photonics in nanotechnology by Steve Brueck, of the University of New Mexico; complex cancer genomes, by Joe W. Gray of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; and lasers in manufacturing, by Len Marabella, of JDS Uniphase. The plenary session explored the history of the maser and future applications for technology; optics and photonics in bioscience; and optical metrology. The event also included an award ceremony to honor achievements in the industry, leaders in the field and students who have made strong contributions to the science of optics and photonics. IEEE/LEOS awarded two fellowships and the prestigious LEOS' Quantum Electronic Award. OSA awarded 16 fellowships, the OSA Townes medal and the Bookham/New Focus Student Award. Anthony Siegman, a professor at Stanford University and an expert on lasers and optical devices and their applications delivered a keynote presentation on the maser, its discovery and development, as well as its future applications. Thomas Baer, president and CEO of Arcturus, a pioneer in many areas of biotechnology, laser development and laser applications, gave a presentation on resolving the molecular puzzle of cancer using laser microdissection and microgenomics. He reviewed new research and discussed a new gene-targeting method that will help doctors discern if a woman is predisposed to being receptive to tamoxifen therapy. A certain segment of women are not receptive to tamoxifen therapy, the most commonly used form of drug therapy for combating breast cancer, and Baer's new technique will enable doctors to identify these women earlier, targeting a more appropriate and effective therapy. Theodor Hänsch, executive director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics in Germany, is widely credited with pioneering the optical frequency comb for metrology. Over the years, he has invented or developed many new spectroscopic techniques using the laser, effectively ushering in the modern age of laser spectroscopy. His presentation explored the most recent developments in the generation of ultrabroad optical frequency combs from femtosecond mode-locked lasers. He reviewed how these optical frequency combs can be used for precision spectroscopy to the measurement of physical phenomena on an ultrashort time scale. A joint symposium celebrated the 50th anniversary of the invention of the maser and the field of quantum electronics. Also during CLEO, David Nolte, a professor of physics at Purdue's School of Science, presented a new method of creating anaolog CDs that can function as inexpensive diagnostic tools for protein detection. He reviewed compact disk technology patented by Purdue University that could make possible "while-you-wait" medical tests that screen patients for thousands of disease markers. This technology could revolutionize medical testing by providing hospitals with a fast, easy way to monitor patient health. Xiaoli Sun, of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., presented research on the Messenger spacecraft, slated to launch in August. His team developed a laser altimeter to go on board to provide planet surface topography measurements via laser pulse at the time of flight. This mission marks the first time a spacecraft will go to Mercury to gather important information about the planet. Kohji Yamamoto, from the Research Center for Superconductor Photonics at Osaka University, in Osaka, Japan, discussed his team's research on a new method of screening using terahertz spectroscopy that reveals promising applicability for C-4 inspection to safeguard against these threats. He reviewed C-4 components -- a plastic explosive that possesses extremely high destruction power and is a means of subversive terrorist activity -- and how this new technology could be applied at airports and customs houses.