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A Century — and More — of Innovation

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This month, the Optical Society (OSA) will hold its annual meeting in Rochester, N.Y., at Frontiers in Optics, the capstone event of a year-long celebration of the society’s 100th anniversary. Rochester is a fitting venue, after all, as it was the site of the society’s founding in 1916 by physicist Perley Nutting.

Mike WheelerIt’s hard to imagine that Nutting could have foreseen the profound impact the optics field would have on science and technology in the century that followed. Optics were critical to NASA’s space program that led to man’s first steps on the moon. The telecom revolution of the ’90s and early 2000s stemmed from advancements in optics. And today, researchers are making astounding breakthroughs in cancer research and afflictions of the brain.

In a nod to OSA’s milestone birthday, our special section this month is dedicated entirely to optics. Senior Editor Justine Murphy interviewed current OSA president Alan Willner, who reflected on breakthroughs of the last 30 years and shared his predictions on the role of optics in the photonic integrated circuit revolution of the coming decades. See “3 Questions Interview,” (read article).

Past and present are the themes of Murphy’s feature, “Art and Science: The Development and Impact of Optics,” (read article). Nineteenth century physicists Thomas Young, Augustin-Jean Fresnel and Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz formulated the wave theory of light and polarization, which would lay the groundwork for today’s advances in quantum dot technology and advancements in materials science.

In keeping with our optics focus, our cover story, “Great Strides in Optical Fabrication,” (read article), by contributing editor Marie Freebody, takes a closer look at this evolving and dynamic field, focusing on new approaches to molding, surface process optimization and freeform capable tools.

Other articles in this issue include:

• “3D Displays Get Closer but Face Hurdles,” by Hank Hogan, (read article).

• “Two-Dimensional MEMS Arrays Pave Way for Mobile Spectrometers,” by Mike Walker of Texas Instruments and Hakki Refai of Optecks, (read article).

• “Maximum Exposure: Ray-Tracing Software Optimizes Reflector Design,” by Michael Gauvin of Lambda Research, (read article).

• “New Milestone in Laser Bonding,” by Trumpf’s Florian Kiefer, (read article).

We hope you enjoy the issue. Here’s to the next century of optics advances!

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2016
EditorialMichael Wheeler

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