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A New Initiative for the Future of Photonics

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Karen A. Newman, [email protected]

As we worked to get this issue ready for press, the US National Academy of Sciences National Research Council released its long-awaited report, Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. In it, the council recommends a national photonics initiative: an organized effort of academia, industry and government to steer federal research and development funding and activities. The council believes that such an initiative will help manage the broad reach of rapidly expanding photonics technology, allowing government and industry together to form coherent strategies for technology development and deployment.

In this follow-up to the council’s 1998 Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, the committee named five grand challenges facing the nation that can be addressed with advances in optics and photonics technology, including keeping up the pace of technological achievement established in previous decades.

Watch for in-depth coverage of the report on our Light Matters weekly newscast at, and in the October issue of Photonics Spectra.

Remember your first car?

Was it a Beetle or a Mustang? Was it fast or fuel-efficient? Did you choose domestic or foreign? Whatever your answer, and as much as you loved it, chances are pretty good it had nothing on the cars of tomorrow.

Contributing editor Hank Hogan tells us that – despite current issues, including cost – experts say that projecting information on a windshield is a future safety must-have for drivers. Head-up displays, Hogan writes, are becoming more capable, with color imagery depicting speed, lane location, turn direction, radio setting and other information. “Head-Up Displays Keep Speed and More in Sight” can be found on page 36.

Safety is important, but a laser under the hood is just cool. As calls for improved energy efficiency and reduced auto emissions grow ever louder, lasers are being investigated as possible replacements for the conventional spark plug, according to Managing Editor Laura Marshall. In her cover story, “Laser Car Ignition Dream Sparks Multiple Approaches,” beginning on page 40, Marshall explains how laser spark plugs promise better fuel efficiency and lower pollution than conventional ones.

About our new look

Photonics Spectra has a new look! Our name on the cover is big and bold and ready for the future, just like the vital industry we cover. Inside, you’ll find an easy-to-navigate, easy-to-read presentation of all the latest on research, applications, and the people and business of the photonics industry.

Our design team is led by senior art director Lisa Comstock, who has been designing Photonics Spectra and our other publications since 1984. Working with her are Janice Tynan and Suzanne Schmidt, both of whom contributed to the redesign. We are grateful for their design talents and their thoughtful consideration of our readers in the new look.

Enjoy the issue.

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2012
Americasautomotive windshieldsConsumerDisplaysEditorialHank Hoganhead-up displaysJanice TynanKaren A. Newmanlaser car ignitionlaser spark plugsLaura MarshallLisa ComstockNational Photonics InitiativeopticsOptics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for out NationPhotonics SpectraSuzanne SchmidtUS National Academy of Sciences Research Councillasers

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