An early-stage diagnostic tool for skin cancers, a portable device to test for toxins in water and food, and a versatile laser capable of meeting multiple industrial needs were among 10 winners of the 2013 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation announced Feb. 7 at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco. Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and Photonics Spectra publisher Photonics Media, the annual awards recognize photonic products that break with conventional ideas, solve problems and improve life through the application of light-based technologies. The Prism Award crystal is presented to outstanding companies in honor of innovation in photonics. Winners were chosen by a panel of expert judges and included a tie between the top two entries in the particularly competitive Green Photonics category. “This year’s Prism winners serve as inspiring examples of the many ways ubiquitous photonics technologies touch and improve our lives – diagnosing and treating disease, ensuring food hygiene and water purity, maintaining safety in our communities – as well as improve research capabilities to address those and other challenges,” said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. “While the Prism Awards provide well-deserved recognition for these innovative companies, they also serve to underscore the powerful role of photonics R&D in effecting positive change in the world.” The 2013 winners follow. Defense and Security: OEwaves of Pasadena, Calif., won for its Micro-Opto-Electronic-Oscillator, which improves performance in airborne radar and signal intelligence systems in operating environments on miniature military platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles. Detectors, Sensing, Imaging and Cameras: The IsoPlane SCT Spectrograph from Princeton Instruments of Trenton, N.J., gives researchers the ability to utilize the full spatial extent of their detectors without loss of spectral or spatial resolution. Green Photonics (tie): The ChromaID device from Visualant of Seattle tests virtually any material, aerosol or color using spectral-pattern-matching technology; it collects light patterns using a panel of LEDs. Processing software matches the reflected pattern against a database in the cloud, and a Bluetooth interface communicates with smartphones for field testing of water, food and fuel. Green Photonics (tie): Leosphere of Orsay, France, won for its R-MAN510. With Raman and dual-polarized channels, the eye-safe, networkable device combines the full performance of sophisticated research lidar with the compact size and low maintenance requirements of cloud ceilometers. Industrial Lasers: The TeraBlade 2kW High Brightness Direct Diode Laser from TeraDiode of Wilmington, Mass., is a high-brightness laser emitter that allows direct diode lasers to cut and weld steel in industrial applications. Its wavelength-beam-combining technology combines the output of any number, type, wavelength or power of laser emitters into a single, incoherent laser beam while retaining the brightness of the original emitters. Life Sciences and Biophotonics: The Aura from Verisante Technology of Vancouver, Canada, is a novel Raman spectroscopy device designed to aid in the early detection of all forms of skin cancer including melanoma, and basal and squamous cell carcinoma. The underlying technology has also shown promise in the early detection of other cancers, including lung, cervical and colon cancer. Manufacturing: The MicroPG501 Direct-Write Lithography System made by Heidelberg Instruments of Heidelberg, Germany, is a desktop maskless aligner lithography tool that can write small patterns into photoresists without using a photomask, allowing the user to go directly from design to imaging on the substrate. Optics and Optical Components: From TAG Optics of Princeton, N.J., the ultrahigh-speed TAG Lens 2.0 is a tunable gradient index of refraction device exhibiting aspherical wavefronts with low spherical aberrations for emerging applications in industrial or biomedical imaging, laser microprocessing and metrology. Scientific Lasers: In the Horizon OPO from Continuum Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., spectroscopists have one all-encompassing oscillator tool allowing them to take their experiments through the entire spectrum, instead of using multiple devices. Test, Measurement, Metrology: Lindex Optics Cleaners from Linden Photonics of Weston, Mass., use the same principle of the van der Waals force that allows a gecko’s feet to stick to slick walls with the aid of tiny microhairs: Contaminants such as carbon and oils stick to their highly absorptive fiber optics cleaning tool at a molecular level.