Somewhere between the Golden Globes in January and the Academy Awards in February, the glitz and glamour of awards season made a temporary move from Hollywood to San Jose, Calif. The reason? The inaugural edition of the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation. The awards recognize innovation in photonics technology and are sponsored by Laurin Publishing, publisher of Photonics Media, and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The presentation ceremony was held Jan. 28 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose during the Photonics West 2009 conference and exhibition. “Photonics technologies affect nearly every aspect of life – energy production and distribution, communications, consumer electronics, medicine, biotechnology, manufacturing, analysis of climate change, and security, to mention a few,” said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. “The Prism Awards program is one way we are helping to accelerate innovation and move technology to market. We are pleased to honor and promote the technological creativity and vision represented by these entries.” Judges from SPIE and the Photonics Spectra advisory board reviewed and ranked applications from 17 countries, looking for shining examples of innovation in the field. This year’s award winners represent three nations. Category: Detectors, Sensing and Imaging Equipment Winner: NoblePeak Vision Corp., Wakefield, Mass. Innovation: TriWave Camera The TriWave was singled out because it overcomes lattice mismatch using a natural short-wavelength IR called night glow, which germanium can sense. This solves the lattice mismatch problem and enables germanium, which is sensitive in the visible to short-wavelength IR spectra, to be used as the photodiode structure in the CMOS image sensor. Category: Life Sciences Winner: JPK Instruments AG, Berlin Innovation: JPK NanoTracker The NanoTracker was recognized for its versatility. The commercial, fully integrated two-beam optical tweezer and particle tracking platform has simultaneous optical imaging capabilities for various life sciences applications. A turnkey system, it can be used in applications such as single-molecule force measurements and particle/cell interactions. Two Awards for Luxtera Category: Best in Show Winner: Luxtera, Carlsbad, Calif. Innovation: Blazar The Blazar was named Best in Show, having received the most votes from the judges. Category: Photonics Systems Winner: Luxtera, Carlsbad, Calif. Innovation: Blazar Integrating a complete optical transceiver on a single CMOS chip solves the cost-performance problem, and that’s a big deal. Luxtera has integrated high-performance optics directly with silicon electronics on a monolithic CMOS chip, enabling fiber-to-the-chip connectivity. Category: Lasers (Tie) There were two winners in this category, representing the wide range of applications and capabilities inherent in laser technology. Winner: Coherent, Santa Clara, Calif. Innovation: OPSL 577-3 The OPSL 577-3 is the first laser to exploit the wavelength and power scalability of optically pumped semiconductor technology. This capability enables it to deliver several watts at an application-optimized wavelength rather than at a legacy wavelength. Winner: Daylight Solutions, Poway, Calif. Innovation: Broadly Tunable, CW, Mode-Hop-Free Laser System The remarkable system from Daylight Solutions is a broadly tunable, high-resolution, mid-IR source that offers mode-hop-free performance while tuning over 80 wave numbers. It maintains its single spatial mode profile across the entire tuning range while providing better than 0.001 cm−1 spectral linewidth and CW output powers up to 100 mW. Category: Analytical, Test and Measurement Winner: Aragon Photonics Labs, Zaragoza, Spain Innovation: BOSA-C Compact High-Resolution Optical Spectrum Analyzer The BOSA was a clear winner because it allows spectral measurements not previously available in terms of optical resolution and dynamic range. With the BOSA, measurement resolution is increased by a factor of 1000 compared with that of a grating-based optical spectrum analyzer, so it offers new information about sources and modulators. Category: Other Light Sources Winner: Sensor Electronic Technology, Columbia, S.C. Innovation: Deep-UV Light Sources Sensor Electronic Technology’s deep-UV light sources are innovative because, as they are based on III-nitride semiconductors, they replace bulky, expensive and hazardous sources such as mercury, deuterium and xenon lamps. The company developed the material system and is the sole producer of deep-UV LEDs with peak emission below 350 nm. Category: Optics Winner: Tessera Technologies, San Jose, Calif. Innovation: OptiML WLC The OptiML WLC was a winner because it enables thousands of lenses to be built simultaneously at wafer level and is, in fact, the first wafer-level camera solution for mobile phones. The technology reduces manufacturing and development costs. It also reduces camera module size by up to 50 percent. Category: Sustainable Green Technology Winner: Solyndra,Fremont, Calif. Innovation: Solar Photovoltaic System Solyndra’s cylindrical modules are noteworthy because they capture more sunlight than flat panels, have lower installed cost and provide more electricity per rooftop while utilizing proven technology. The design reshapes solar for the commercial rooftop by maximizing rooftop coverage and providing an average of 25 percent more electricity than conventional flat-panel photovoltaic systems do. Category: Photonics Processes Winner: Princetel, Pennington, N.J. Innovation: FP180 Hand Polisher The FP180 is a hand-crank fiber connector polisher for use in the field where power is unavailable or in a no-spark environment. What makes it special is an adjustable force provided by a micrometer that ensures a consistent finish for a wide variety of connectors and connector types.