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European Companies Win Big

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Melinda A. Rose, Senior Editor,

The winners of the 2011 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation represented an intriguing mix of European and US-based small companies and established businesses.

The annual international competition, sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE, honors photonic products introduced in the previous year that solve problems, challenge conventional ideas and improve life in various ways. Over the past four years, the awards have grown to become the premier recognition of innovation and new-product development in the photonics industry. The awards ceremony was held during SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

This year’s winners include a 60-laser system for inspecting train rails at high speed and a breakthrough in miniaturization that enables speckle reduction in laser-based pico projectors.

“I’m surprised, because we’re a young company – only four years old,” said Optotune AG co-founder and chief operating officer Mark Blum. “It’s a sign that we’re on the right track, and it’s a good sign for laser projection.”

When Amplitude Systèmes was founded 10 years ago, according to President and CEO Dr. Eric Mottay, “a funny joke was putting ‘femtosecond’ and ‘industrial lasers’ in the same sentence.”

“I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” said nanoplus CEO Dr. Johannes Koeth, accepting the award. He acknowledged not only those contributors but also his employees.

For a list of all finalists, see

The 2011 Winners of Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation

Detectors, Sensing, Imaging and Cameras
Mermec – Monopoli, Italy

T-Sight 5000

Green Photonics/Sustainable Energy
nanoplus – Gerbrunn, Germany

DFB Laser at 3 µm

Industrial Lasers
Amplitude Systèmes – Pessac, France

Satsuma HE

Optics and Optical Components
Optotune AG – Dietikon, Switzerland

Laser Speckle Reducer

Test, Measurement, Metrology
WITec GmbH – Ulm, Germany

True Surface Microscopy

Defense and Security
Physical Optics Corp. (POC) – Torrance, Calif.

Mobile ELISA-Based Pathogen Detection (MEPAD)

Life Sciences and Biophotonics
89 North – Burlington, Vt.


Other Light Sources
OEwaves – Pasadena, Calif.

Ultranarrow Linewidth Laser

Scientific Lasers
PD-LD Inc. – Pennington, N.J.

LabSource VBG-Stabilized Dual Laser Source

Top Left:
Mermec Inc. Market Manager Nathan Haydn-Myer (left) and President Luca Ebreo.

Top Right: The team from Amplitude Systèmes proudly points to its Prism Award, held by President and CEO Eric Mottay.

Middle Left: Surrounded by team members, Optotune Chief Operating Officer Mark Blum hoists his company’s award.

Middle Right: WITec GmbH’s Dr. Klaus Weishaupt, managing director, marketing and sales.

Bottom Left There were plenty of opportunities to network before and after the 2011 Prism Awards ceremony, held at the San Francisco Hilton on Jan. 25, 2012. Photos by

Bottom Right: Dr. Johannes Koeth, CEO of nanoplus.

Mar 2012
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
AmericasAsia-PacificBiophotonicscamerasdefenseDisplaysEuropeFeaturesfiber opticsimagingindustriallight sourcesmetrologyMicroscopynanooptical componentsopticsPrismsSensors & DetectorsTest & Measurementlasers

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