Photonics distilled

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Those who shape conferences for and about the photonics industry are probably familiar with a certain sense of apprehension. That apprehension doesn’t arise from a lack of compelling topics, but rather from the challenge of distilling them down into a four-day program that is somehow representative of the industry’s multiple perspectives, agendas, and sectors.

The online 2022 Photonics Spectra Conference, due to run from Jan. 10-13 next month, is emblematic of this phenomenon.

The success of Photonics Media’s inaugural online conference earlier this year proved to us that we could encapsulate this multifaceted industry within a few days. But it also presented a high standard for comparison without diminishing the number of challenging questions. Should the focus be on cutting-edge science or practical applications? On the interests of component makers, or system developers, or end users? And exactly which types of emitters, detectors, optics, and integrated platforms merited the program’s attention most?

Photonics Spectra magazine allows us the luxury of addressing these questions as a matter of routine and on a much smaller scale. With over 40 presentations planned, the 2022 Photonics Spectra Conference will approach the magazine’s annual feature count in the space of four days.

With an undertaking this ambitious, it is often best to shape the program just enough to spark ideas in the minds of industry experts and then get out of their way while they riff on possible directions. As we’ve learned again and again with photonics, the lines partitioning science and engineering; discovery and commerce; and components, systems, and applications are often blurred — if they exist at all.

While physicists were still probing the finer points of quantum tunneling, for example, engineers skipped to the next chapter and put the underlying scientific models to work in the form of the laser diodes used in Blue-ray and DVD players. Quantum mechanics, their effects, and the means to control them continue to attract rigorous scientific research. But this research is conducted in the commercial arena as much as in academic and government labs, and the results are generating nearly as many products as peer-reviewed articles.

This parallel advancement of scientific and commercial interests is reflected also in the markets for optical metasurfaces and flat optics, as well as in laser-based additive manufacturing, scientific imaging, and ultrashort-pulsed lasers — all topics that appear alongside the latest in quantum technology on our program for the 2022 Photonics Spectra Conference.

You will find a preview of the conference program, including our all-star lineup of keynoters, on page 31 of this issue. Register for free by navigating to

Published: December 2021

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