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Exhibitors Positive About Photonics West 2007

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SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 26, 2007 -- Organizer SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering, estimated Thursday that more than 17,000 people attended Photonics West 2007's technical programs and exhibition between Jan. 20-25. In an informal survey during the event, exhibitors were positive about their experiences at North America's largest trade show on optics, lasers, biomedical optics, optoelectronic components and imaging technologies.PWfloor-shot.jpg
Vendors had positive things to say about the well-attended exhibition at Photonics West 2007.

Many companies use Photonics West to introduce their latest and greatest products and unveil new technologies. This year 1000 vendors from all over the world set up shop at the San Jose Convention Center for the three-day exhibition.

Bill Shiner, director of industrial market development at Oxford, Mass.-based IPG Photonics, and Valentin P. Gapontsev, founder and CEO, were ebullient about the company's reception at Photonics West and in the fiber community in general after its recent IPO. ipg-bill-shiner-and-valenti.jpg
Bill Shiner (left), director of industrial market development at IPG Photonics, with company founder and CEO Valentin P. Gapontsev.
"It's been a good show," Shiner said. "Compared to last year, it's incredible. The response has been overwhelming. There's a lot of awareness about IPG and fiber lasers suddenly." Shiner was also enthusiastic about an alliance with Reliant Technologies, of Mountain View, Calif., to develop an industrial scanning system for high-speed spot welding and drilling that combines Reliant technology for medical devices with IPG's fiber lasers.

Steve Najda, technical expert at Intense Ltd. of Glasgow, Scotland, said on Wednesday he was seeing a lot of activity at the centrally located Intense booth, just outside the exhibition hall, which sported its new logo promoting next-generation lasers. The maker of high-power laser diodes, semiconductor lasers and laser array modules for use in defense, industrial, aerospace, and print and imaging applications, is launching a new high-power laser diode line.

"We have had a lot more interesting contacts here this year," Najda said.

Intense of one of a number of companies representing Scotland's laser technology and optoelectronics industries at the show. Other exhibitors included the Institute of Photonix, a commercially-oriented research unit that is part of the University of Strathclyde. The institute's research interests include semiconductor materials and devices, practical all-solid-state lasers, microLED arrays and a wide range of applications, particularly in biophotonics. Also exhibiting were the Scottish Optoelectronics Association (SOA), which includes more than 85 companies, universities and research organizations interested in developing the optoelectronics industry in Scotland; and Kelvin Nanotechnology, which facilitates the commercialization of technology in the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Glasgow.

Thorlabs released an adaptive scanning optical microscope prototype at Photonics West and BiOS, the biomedical optics symposium. The technology for a deformable mirror is used to correct aberrations in an optical system and as a building block for optical microscopes, said Sam Rubin, head of marketing. It has a field of view significantly larger than existing microscopes and can view a much larger sample without needing to translate the sample, he said.

The system is expected to initially ship -- in a few months -- as a microscope rather than a full system. Thorlabs recently developed a laser imaging microscope based on optical coherence tomography that's shipping now as a complete system. Rubin said the company's acquisition of optical components supplier OFR in January provided it with high-quality products in addition to a very strong customer base.

Boston Micromachines Corp. of Watertown, Mass., chose Photonics West to launch a 6-µm stroke mirror, part of its micromachined deformable mirrors line. Seth Pappas, development engineer at Boston Micromachines, said on Wednesday that the company is experiencing "a very good reception" at Photonics West (and BiOS 2007).bostonmicroph.jpg
Seth Pappas (background/center), development engineer at Boston Micromachines, said the company is experiencing "a very good reception" at Photonics West and BiOS 2007. At left is Steven Menn, director of product marketing, with a Photonics West attendee.
"I think the show is very nicely populated with people who are knowledgeable and creative; we're getting a lot of people coming by with applications in mind, wondering if our products can help them," he said. Among those are medical applications such as investigating tissue and using the mirror to improve the images seen through microscopes, he said.

Optical Research Associates (ORA), a supplier of Code V and LightTools imaging and illumination design/analysis software and of optical systems, recently released Code V 9.70, which models how an object would appear when imaged by the optical system, taking into account diffraction, lens aberrations, distortion, relative illumination and blurring due to detector pixel size. David Hasenauer, Code V product manager, said Photonics West is a good opportunity to connect with current customers and update them on ORA's products as well to "find new customers and show them we have the tools to solve their problems."

PI (Physik Instrumente) of Auburn, Mass., chose the show to announce its advanced hybrid DC/PZT nanopositioning stages, which provide nanometer precision over millimeters of travel by combining advantages of lead screws and piezo actuators. The stages, with high precision and very high stiffness, are "absolutely unique; it's the first and only product of its kind," said Stefan Vorndran, director of corporate product marketing and communications.

PI also exhibited a rod drive ultrasonic linear actuator, one of the products in its PIline ultrasonic ceramic motors. The PIline also has applications in scanning electron microscopy (PI also exhibited at BiOS) and where magentic fields are not allowable.

Vorndran said Photonics West is bringing in more than the average number of good-quality leads -- "a lot of people with new projects" -- and has heavier foot traffic this year.

Lambda Research Corp. of Littleton, Mass., released version 4 of its TracePro nonsequential ray-tracing program. Patrick Houillier, applications engineer, demonstrates its fluorescence function and optimization engine. He said Photonics West 2007 was "very good" this year, attracting more than 100 leads per day, compared to about 80 in previous years. He said show visitors had keen interest in applications involving general lighting and medicine, particularly at BiOS, where the company also exhibited.

Felix Lusternberger, section head of image sensing at CSEM -- an innovation center in Neufchâtel, Switzerland, with outposts in Zurich and Alpnach -- exhibited a vision system based on an approach very similiar to the human brain, in keeping with the concept of columnar functional organization, as originally framed by Vernon Mountcastle. "We tried to match that into a piece of software that eventually led to some microprocessor architecture which is more adapted to that kind of sensory information processing," Lusternberger said. "It's a hierarchical way to process data using very simple templates to make the object recognition by dividing a complex object into fewer more simple elements." The system is in the research phase, but Lusternberger said they have attracted interest at Photonics West from large semiconductor manufacturers.

San Jose-based Bookham announced two vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, to its product portfolio: a polarization-stable 850-nm single-mode VCSEL and an 850-nm high-power VCSEL array.

"The unique advantages of VCSEL technology are increasing its attractiveness to new markets and applications," said Chief Commercial Officer Steve Turley. "Bookham has long been a proponent of diversification in the optical component industry, and the acquisition of Avalon Photonics has continued this strategy, adding a new chip technology to our already broad chip design."

New Scale Technologies Inc. of Victor, N.Y., demonstrated its Squiggle ultrasonic linear motor. As small as 1.5 x 1.5 x 6 mm, the motors enable smaller products and nanopositioning tools and are more efficient and precise than larger conventional motors, New Scale said. The company recently announced plans to create a $1-million center for automated, high-precision manufacturing of Squiggle motors that will allow it to increase its production capacity to 100,000 motors per month. This capacity will be used to fulfill existing and anticipated contracts for Squiggle motors for mobile phone camera modules and other miniature devices. The company expects to begin using the new facility, located near its headquarters, in March.jdsu.jpg
Len Marabella, director of marketing, Commercial Lasers at JDSU, with one of a series of high-power diode lasers JDSU showcased at Photonics West.
David Henderson, president and CEO, said, "This is a historic opportunity for piezo motors. The cumulative camera phone market shipments will surpass 3 billion by late 2008 or early 2009 after less than 10 years on the market, representing a new market for one billion tiny motors." The company said it plans to develop even smaller motors in the future -- "The scalability is there," Henderson said.

JDSU launched the FCD488 telecom-based visible solid-state laser designed for biomedical, industrial and semiconductor applications and showcased a series of high-power diode lasers at Photonics West, including additions and enhancements to its L3 series of fiber-coupled diode lasers.
Len Marabella, director of marketing, Commercial Lasers, said JDSU's new slogan, "Changing the Rules of the Game," reflects the company's "enormous investment" to provide its customers with in the industrial laser industry with telecom-grade diode pump lasers.

“A transition is underway within the industrial laser industry toward highly reliable, telecom-grade diode pump lasers,” said Toby Strite, manager, high-power laser marketing at JDSU. “The extensions we’ve made to our industry-leading L3 platform reinforces that JDSU is at the forefront of this trend.”

Hamamatsu showcased its advanced time-delay integration (TDI) technology. On display were new products for TDI applications, including a set of four back-thinned, full-frame transfer CCD line sensors designed specifically for TDI, and OEM board-level cameras that incorporate these sensors. Among the potential applications for these new products are industrial inspection of moving objects, semiconductor inspection and flow cytometry. For these applications, Hamamatsu said the technology offers the benefits of extremely high sensitivity during TDI mode operation, high-speed line rate and high quantum efficiency over a broad spectral range.

Intense Ltd. highlighted INSlam, a new family of laser diode modules for defense and digital printing applications. The units are based on Intense’s Quantum Well Intermixing (QWI) process. The company said the process allows for the monolithic integration of a large number of high-power, individually addressable, single-mode lasers on one chip. This provides for the precise delivery of optical energy, enabling the highest accuracy and speed in the next generation of military rangefinders and illuminators, as well as digital presses.

Trumpf displayed its new 8-kW disk laser. The company said that despite its high laser power, it has a beam quality equal to lower-power lasers, and its application range is almost unlimited. Trumpf said the TruDisk 8002 can process nearly any material, and that even highly reflective materials like copper or aluminum are processed without difficulties. The laser is able to weld ten millimeters deep in construction steel with a welding speed of one meter per minute.

General Optics reintroduced its line of solid etalon products for use in research and development and OEM product designs. The company said its patented process uses proprietary superpolishing techniques to create optical surfaces with roughness levels less then 1Å rms (root mean square). Combined with its MRF (magnetorheological finishing) machines and SWS (swept wavelength laser system), this process enables precise thickness control across the etalon surface to levels of better than 2 nm/mm. Etalon products are then completed using IBS coating chambers to deposit HR and PR films with excellent density and minimum surface stress. Typical HR performance is better than 99.998 percent at any wavelengths within the C & L bands.

More Photonics West News and Photo Gallery
Jan 2007
A sub-field of photonics that pertains to an electronic device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
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