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2016 Prism Awards Honor Nine Outstanding Photonics Innovations

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Nine innovations from across the globe took center stage this week at the Prism Award ceremonies at SPIE Photonics West. While their applications ranged widely — from medical diagnostics to astronomy to 3D printing — the products all demonstrate the vast potential of photonics to serve societies and grow world economies.

Sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the awards have been presented annually since 2009 in recognition of light-based technology that solves problems and improves quality of life.

The 2016 Prism Award winners and event sponsors, Photonics Media and SPIE at SPIE Photonics West. All images courtesy of Doug Cody for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The Prism Awards were developed to recognize innovative products that are newly available on the open market. Each category is meant to isolate a specific contribution in photonics, in a technology area or sector of the industry. Categories have been added, removed, and updated over time to reflect trends in the industry.

Entries were judged by an independent panel of experts including industry executives, leading academic researchers, venture capitalists and past Prism Award winners.

The 2016 winners in each category were:
Biomedical Instrumentation:
Biodesy Inc. (San Francisco) — The Biodesy Delta utilizes an ultrafast mode-locked Ti:S laser to enable real-time protein analysis with greater sensitivity, lower cost, and high throughput. The optical system is effective in identifying first-in-class medicines against any protein target and enabling drug discovery against protein targets thought to be intractable.

The Biodesy team with their Prism Award for Biomedical Instrumentation.

Detectors and Sensors:
Spectral Engines Oy (Helsingfors, Finland) — The Wireless IR Analyzer is a miniaturized, robust IR spectrometer capable of covering IR ranges above 1.7 μm with no loss in performance. Fast and stabile operation, integrated data analysis algorithms, and a Bluetooth connection make this device a pocket-sized infrared spectroscopic lab. 


Displays and Lighting: Dolby, Christie and Necsel (USA) — In the Dolby Vision Cinema Laser Projector, the three companies have combined their expertise to create a greatly enhanced premium cinema experience with high contrast, high brightness, a wide color gamut and excellent 3D performance.

Imaging and Cameras: First Light Imaging (Meyreuil, France) — The C-RED One SWIR camera improves noninvasive detection and diagnostics for diseases and research, and opens a new era in astronomical, biomedical, industry and defense imagery.

Industrial Lasers: LightFab GmbH (Aachen, Germany) — The LightFab 3D enables true 3D structures in pure glasses without design limitations, making possible the mass production of micro 3D glass for fields as diverse as optics, precision mechanics, electronics, chemistry, and medicine.

Materials and Coatings: Nanoco Group PLC (Manchester, England) — Nontoxic, cadmium-free quantum dots enable a broad range of new applications in display and lighting, from high-end televisions and horticulture lighting to bioimaging and solar.

Nanoco's cadmium quantum dots won the Prism Award for Materials and Coatings.

Optics and Optical Components:
Boulder Nonlinear Systems (USA). Large-aperture, low- size, weight, and power wide-angle beam steering enables electro-optics technologies for defense, aerospace, energy, automotive, and telecommunications, in applications from small satellites to agile long-range laser systems.

Other Metrology Instrumentation: 4D Technology Corp. (Tucson, Ariz.) — The FlexCam is a compact, vibration-insensitive, high-resolution 3D metrology module that meets the need for fast, scalable, cost-effective defect and roughness metrology for flexible electronics, including wearable health/fitness monitors, organic LED displays, thin-film solar devices, and low-cost mobile devices.

Scientific Lasers: Lytid SAS (Paris) — TeraCascade is a compact, user-friendly, easily transportable, high-frequency terahertz laser source that transforms state-of-the-art quantum cascade laser technology into a user-friendly tool that works with nearly every terahertz detector on the market.

French firm Lytid accepts a Prism Award for TeraCascade, a user-friendly quantum cascade laser. 
"This year's winning products ingeniously deploy key photonics technologies such as quantum cascade and terahertz lasers, IRsensing, and 3D printing, placing powerful new capabilities in the hands of users," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "They address pressing issues such as the world's need for sustainable energy and light, and clinicians' needs for quickly identifying the best drugs to target challenging diseases in time to saves lives and staunch outbreaks before they become epidemics. Products such as these provide highly effective means of demonstrating the vast potential of photonics technologies to serve humankind as well as to help grow world economies."

"In memory of our founder, Teddi Laurin, who passed away last November, and on behalf of everyone at Laurin Publishing, I'm pleased to join SPIE in recognizing and celebrating the 2016 Prism Awards winners, and sharing their innovations with our global audience," said Laurin Publishing President and CEO Thomas Laurin. "As we contemplate Teddi's impact on our business and on the photonics industry, we are reminded that she understood the need to recognize innovation and to applaud the companies that achieved it."

Dolby, Christie and Necsel shared credit for the Prism Award-winning Dolby Vision Cinema Laser Projector.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs.

Photonics Media, a business unit of Pittsfield, Mass.-based Laurin Publishing Co. Inc., publishes Photonics Spectra, BioPhotonics, EuroPhotonics, Industrial Photonics, Photonics Buyers' Guide and With a collective subscriber base of more than 150,000 worldwide and more than 2 million website visits per year, Laurin Publishing's Photonics Media products and publications lead the photonics industry with editorial excellence and integrity — fostering a tradition of innovation and progress by sharing knowledge, insights and visions for the future.

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2016
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
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