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Prism Awards Honor Industry’s Top Innovators

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What do the world’s smallest FTIR spectrometer, a lidar system for autonomous vehicles, and a smartphone add-on sensor for noncontact bioimaging have in common? The 2018 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation. These products are among 30 finalists for the awards that recognize the industry’s top innovations and groundbreaking technologies.

Co-sponsored annually by SPIE and Photonics Media, the “Oscars of the Photonics Industry” marks its 10th year in 2018. Winners will be announced during the awards gala on Jan. 31, 2018, in San Francisco.

Each year, the Prism Awards honor the photonics industry’s top innovators, products and technology.

Each year, the Prism Awards honor the photonics industry’s top innovators, products and technology. Courtesy of SPIE.

“Ten years in, the Prism Awards are casting an even wider light on the photonics industry,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “Each year, categories for the awards are driven by the innovations entered, providing direct insight into thriving and emerging hot markets.”

The 2017 winners and event sponsors — Photonics Media and SPIE.

The 2017 winners and event sponsors — Photonics Media and SPIE. Courtesy of SPIE.

He noted changes to this year’s program, including the number of categories — this year there are 10, rather than the usual nine. “Biomedical entries are featured in two categories … illustrating the vitality of that field,” he said. “Also new this year are categories for inventions in environmental monitoring and for illumination and light sources — very timely, as the world continues to work toward more sustainable energy sources and devices.”

The 2018 Prism Awards finalists, by category:

Detectors and Sensors

NKT Photonics (Birkerød, Denmark)
A growing demand for efficient renewable energy resources makes the management of power networks more complex. The LIOS EN.SURE DTS & RTTR — a long-range, optical-fiber-based temperature and strain-sensing measurement system — is designed for such management. It monitors underground transmission and distribution power cables as well as overhead transmission lines. Using an optical fiber embedded in the power cable or installed externally, the LIOS EN.SURE system is able to measure temperature and strain in the cable over single-ended distances of up to 70 km. The system also can handle up to 16 fibers and 16 separate power cables, and its strain capability can be used to detect cable disturbance, abnormal bends and/or kinks in the cable before, during and after installation.

Princeton Infrared Technologies (New Jersey, U.S.)
The LineCam12 SWIR linescan camera — featuring a high-resolution InGaAs image sensor with 1024 pixels on 12.5-μm pitch, back-thinned, bump-bonded to its proprietary digital ROIC — can detect a wide spectrum of light. It provides an extended spectral response that detects visible light through the shortwave IR with a spectral peak at 1.55 μm. It is capable of detecting the NIR and SWIR signatures of samples simultaneously, as the known visible light from a single camera offers a new spectrum of information not available with visible-only imagers. The imager’s SWIR wavelengths contain other spectral features for application in food and agricultural quality, hazmat, and explosives detection among other uses.

Leica Geosystems engineers show off the BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner, which won the 2017 Metrology award.

Leica Geosystems engineers show off the BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner, which won the 2017 Metrology award.
Courtesy of SPIE.

Xenics NV (Leuven, Belgium)
The XLIN-FC 2048 is an SWIR line array that touts a high-pixel resolution of 2048 px (rectangular or square), as well as a maximum speed of 400 kHz and very low noise of 35e−. This enables longer arrays to run at a high line rate regardless of length. The XLIN FC 2048 also features a front-end circuit based on a CTIA to ensure stable detector bias, good linearity and signal integrity, input auto-zero for low detector bias, and CDS-reducing noise and offsets.

Environmental Monitoring

Block Engineering (Massachusetts, U.S.)
Utilizing QCLs combined with mid-IR spectroscopy, the LaserWarn can quickly detect and identify chemical clouds. The system touts the widest tunable external-cavity, eye-safe lasers, as it is able to scan across a 5- to 13-µm-wide spectral range in less than 40 ms. This allows the system to provide ultra-rapid, subsecond response to chemical threats and monitoring of chemical releases. Noteably, the system’s lasers can monitor chemical clouds across thousands of square feet, whether indoors or out. LaserWarn allows chemical analysis algorithms, as well, providing the ability to detect and identify components of high number, multicomponent mixtures in real-world environments.

Blue Industry and Science (Paris)
The X-FLR8 V2 is a high-resolution gas analyzer, based on Hortob B3, a doubly resonant OPO technology. The system uses photoacoustic detection to measure gas concentration to the parts-per-billion level. The first gas analyzer to integrate a broadly tunable high-resolution optical source, the X-FLR8 V2 has found applications in the environmental and industrial safety measurement fields. This portable device measures a spectrum of compounds with the resolution of a laboratory FTIR, allowing real-time measurements.

Engineers from QD Laser accept the 2017 Industrial Laser award for their Ultra-short Pulsed Seeder for Fiber Laser.

Engineers from QD Laser accept the 2017 Industrial Laser award for their Ultra-short Pulsed Seeder for Fiber Laser. Courtesy of SPIE.

Daylight Solutions Inc. (California, U.S.)
A compact, intelligent spectrometer powered by tunable QCLs, the Chem-Detect Mid-IR Liquid Analyzer is designed to measure low concentrations of analytes in HPLC-compatible liquid columns. ChemDetect brings together a fast-scanning, broadly tunable QCL with uncooled, balanced detection to quickly detect multiple targets in mixed or separated flows with sample volumes on the scale of 1 μL. This is the first mid-IR spectroscopy system to allow high-sensitivity absorption spectroscopy in more than 125 μm of water. Specifically, this enables detection of glucose in water with linearity over multiple decades of concentration.

Illumination and Light Sources

 Lumileds (California, U.S.)
The high-efficiency 3-V mid-power LUXEON 3535L HE Plus offers specific correlated color temperature and color rendering combinations. It features a typical LED efficiency of >160 lm/W at 2700 K and 90 CRI. It touts 5 to 15 percent conversion efficiency improvement compared to existing commercial phosphor LEDs at correlated color temperatures. Making this device unique is the application of quantum dots on an LED chip, which allows for higher efficiency, reliability and improved quality of light.

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH (Munich)
The SFH 4735 is the first broadband infrared LED. It is well suited for near-IR spectroscopy and is able to assess the quality of food or medicine. It features the first converter for IR emitters with a homogeneous spectral distribution in the IR range. The SFH 4735 can be used to measure freshness and quality of water, fat, carbohydrate, sugar and a food’s protein content using a smartphone.

SoraaLaser (California, U.S.)
Touted as the world’s first white light, high-luminance, remotely delivered white laser light module, the LaserLight Fiber Module features the highest luminance light source available. It’s safe, high-efficiency fiber delivery of light from a blue laser diode to a remote phosphor module produces high-luminance, incoherent, broad spectrum white light. This device enables lighting effects such as long-range, highly collimated beam output, as well as compact ultrashort throw, high-angle illumination and glare-free pattern generation with sharp light gradients. It also includes active light level sensors for precise control.

Imaging and Cameras

 Daylight Solutions Inc. (California, U.S.)
A second-generation mid-IR quantum cascade laser-based, wide-field, spectroscopic imaging microscope, the Spero-QT is 20× faster than its predecessor that was launched in 2014. The new device is nearly 1000× faster than traditional IR spectroscopic imaging systems. It offers high spectral and spatial resolution; laser-based, label-free imaging; and requires no cryogenic cooling. The Spero-QT is also distinct with its video rate (30 Hz) wide field-of-view spectral imaging capability.

Luminar Technologies Inc. (Florida, U.S.)
Addressing unmet needs for the autonomous mobility industry, the Model-G 3D LiDAR system delivers a million data points at full-range specification per second. Each point is able to detect less than 10 percent reflective targets at more than 200 m away. It simultaneously achieves 38× greater spatial resolution and 6× farther range than most existing systems. The new architecture features a single laser and detector pair to rapidly collect information from the environment while remaining eye safe. Its sensor operates at 1550 nm, which requires InGaAs. A new Si-InGaAs hybrid ASIC is involved, with an order-of-magnitude-higher performance and lower cost than other InGaAs receivers. The Model-G 3D LiDAR is the first dynamically configurable system operating at 1550 nm.

Nufern engineers accept a 2017 Prism award for their NuBEAM Flat-Top fiber technology.

Nufern engineers accept a 2017 Prism award for their NuBEAM Flat-Top fiber technology. Courtesy of SPIE.

Teledyne DALSA (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
The Piranha4 Polarization line scan camera offers a breakthrough in machine vision, as it detects phase shift rather than just the intensity that current monochrome and color cameras do. The camera comprises an advanced quadlinear CMOS sensor with nanowire micropolarizer filters. It can capture three polarization states — 0°, 90°, 135° — and outputs four independent images in a single scan. Piranha4 can detect stress, birefringence, transparent film and other aspects that are undetectable with current imaging technology. In addition, Stokes parameters derived from four channels can be used to quantitatively measure physical properties.


Class 5 Photonics (Hamburg, Germany)
At an industry-leading 1 mJ, 100 kHz and 100 W, the Supernova OPCPA — “the most powerful femtosecond laser on the market” — performs 10× faster than conventional Ti:Sapphire lasers. It features extremely short pulse durations down to 15 fs, and covers a broad wavelength range (from 0.4 to 3.0 μm). Wavelength flexibility allows tailoring to custom multicolor experiments at full system performance and stability. The Supernova OPCPA can be employed in research of attosecond science, materials processing and ultrafast spectroscopy.

KMLabs (Colorado, U.S.)
The Y-Fi OPA is a vertically integrated, collinear optical parametric amplifier pumped by a Y-Fi HP, featuring class-leading pulse duration of 1035-nm-centered Y-Fi HP. This allows both a stable, coherent white light seed source and a high conversion efficiency into the short-wave (1250 to 1800 nm) and mid-wave (2.4 to 4.5 μm) infrared. The Y-Fi OPA’s high repetition rate (along with high conversion efficiency and short pulses) provide broad bandwidth, high average power and pulse energy, high peak power and tunable mid-IR output. This can be used in chemical spectroscopy, molecular fingerprinting and potentially fundamental studies in materials science and waveguide technology.

The Crystalline Mirror Solutions team celebrates its 2017 Prism win in the Materials and Coatings category.

The Crystalline Mirror Solutions team celebrates its 2017 Prism win in the Materials and Coatings category. Courtesy of SPIE.

OptoRes (Munich)
The NG-FDML is the world’s fastest wavelength-swept laser. It is based on proprietary Fourier-domain mode-locking (FDML) technology and developed specifically for OCT. It is about one order of magnitude faster than any other commercially available swept source (at a rate of 1.6 MHz), with longer coherence length and high output power exceeding 100 mW. This is the fastest such laser, as it allows high-quality OCT with speeds of more than one million A-scans per second.

Life Science Instrumentation

 neaspec GmbH (Martinsried, Germany)
A cryogenic optical atomic force microscope mounted on a tailored closed-cycle dry-cryostathe, the Cryo-neaSNOM is a first-of-its-kind nanoanalytics tool that enables ultrahigh-resolution optical near-field microscopy <20 nm. Specifically, the new device allows optical imaging and spectroscopy on single nanocrystals, nanodomains and nanostructures in the visible, IR and THz spectral range at cryogenic temperatures. It can perform nanoscale optical near-field measurements at ultracold temperatures (<10 to 300 Kelvin). Its closed-cycle, dry-cryostat technology enables push-button cryogenic near-field experiments without the need for a liquid helium supply.

Quantumcyte (California, U.S.)
The Q1 ArraySeQ is a single-cell analysis platform for phenotypic profiling. Capable of individually assessing thousands of cells simultaneously, the system correlates that information to the genetic data collected from each cell. The unique capability of linking phenotypic to genotypic data allows for the development of personalized treatment options for cancer and other genetic diseases.

Tomocube (Daejeon, South Korea)
The HT-2 is the first optical microscope that enables the visualization and simultaneous measurement of 3D refractive index tomography and 3D fluorescence imaging of live cells and tissues. Simultaneous 3D fluorescence imaging provides molecular-specific information about target samples and provides correlative analysis. The new microscope helps scientists and researchers to investigate live cells and analyze the morphological, biophysical and biomechanical properties of those cells.

Materials Processing and Additive Manufacturing

Han’s Laser Technology (Shenzhen, China)
Designed specifically for PVD ablation processing in the manufacturing of new-generation smartphones, the Multi-axis, High-Precision UV-Laser System comprises a sub-nanosecond UV-laser with up to 10 W output power, a four-axis motion control system, a precise 2D scanner, and a high-resolution CCD vision system. It is a highly integrated, highly accurate, cost-effective micromachining system that features auto-calibration and auto-compensation for laser power and vision positioning for stable and accurate manufacturing.

LIMO GmbH (Dortmund, Germany)
The Activation Line UV-L750 is an optical beam delivery and beam-shaping system designed for UV laser lift-off (LLO) of flexible OLED displays. Its optical beam transformation technology enables 10× larger depth-of-field for high-end lift-off processes in mass production tools for flexible OLEDs. It can combine up to 12 laser sources into one single line beam profile, and can also be used for LLO and solid-state laser annealing.

OSA member Katharine Schmidtke, who works with Strategic Sourcing Optical Technology at Facebook, announces Nufern’s 2017 win in the Optics and Optical Components category.

Katharine Schmidtke, who works with Strategic Sourcing Optical Technology at Facebook, announces Nufern’s 2017 win in the Optics and Optical Components category. Courtesy of SPIE.

NUBURU Inc. (Colorado, U.S.)
The AO-150 fiber-coupled blue laser system features short wavelength light (450 nm) and high power (150 W) that enable the welding of copper and gold. It is typically difficult to process such materials with IR lasers because of the high reflectivity in the IR of these materials. But the AO-150 system can easily be integrated into welding and additive manufacturing systems, and with no spattering or porosity of the welded joint.

Medical Diagnostics and Therapeutics

ContinUse Biometrics (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Used for biomedical remote sensing, the SmartHealth Mod smartphone sensor detects nanovibrations in the body. It is the first photonic sensor capable of simultaneously monitoring several bioparameters continuously and from a distance. A smartphone add-on, it can monitor heart rate, variability and pulsewave velocity, and it is the first noncontact blood pressure sensor. The SmartHealth Mod can also be used in smart homes and smart cars for home health care.

Lightpoint Medical Ltd. (Chesham, England)
The LightPath Imaging System is a molecular imaging camera designed for intraoperative analysis of surgical specimens. It enables intraoperative tumor margin assessment using optical molecular imaging and features rapid acquisition time and high spacial resolution (117 μm). The LightPath system employs Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging, an imaging technology for optical imaging, namely of positron emission tomography tracers.

Lumedica (North Carolina, U.S.)
Touting laboratory-grade OCT imaging technology, the OQ LabScope is a powerful, affordable device for detection of eye diseases. With an A-Scan Line rate of 8800/second and 750-μW output power, it is designed for use by commercial and academic research scientists studying the micro-layers of biologic tissue.

Optics and Optomechanical Components

 AdlOptica Optical Systems GmbH (Berlin)
The foXXus multifocus optics technology allows simultaneous multilayer material processing for effective depth-of-field and controlled propagation of a processed zone such as cracks in glass and other brittle materials. With refractive design and lenses with polished optical surfaces, it is used in conjunction with lasers to redistribute energy along the optical axis (polarization energy splitting). FoXXus offers high resistance to CW and ultrashort pulse lasers, providing up to eight separate foci.

Optotune Switzerland AG (Dietikon, Switzerland)
The MR-15-30 is a compact dual-axis vector scan mirror that features tilt in two dimensions with a range of +/−25° mechanical half angle around a single point of rotation. This provides an optical field of view of 100 degrees. It has a built-in position feedback system that ensures high-precision position control. It offers resolution better than 5 μrad and reduces thermal drift to only 20 μrad/Kelvin. The MR-15-30 — suitable for automotive, biometric, vision and medical applications — is the only mirror of its kind currently on the market.

Spectrolight Inc. (California, U.S.)
Utilizing coordinated rotation of two precision bandpass filters and a compensation plate, the Flexible Wavelength Selector (FWS) combines the precision wavelength tuning and adjustable bandwidth of a monochromator with the large uniform circular transmission aperture. It is able to perform spectral imaging directly and with unprecedented flexibility. The FWS is the first optomechanical device that can detect every pixel (similar to an array camera in imaging applications) while at the same time acting as a monochromator to smoothly scan or step bandwidth and wavelength (such as in spectroscopy applications).

Test and Measurement

Gamma Scientific (California, U.S.)
The GS-1290-NED is a measurement system that offers high spatial resolution color and contrast measurements for near-eye displays such as those used in virtual reality and augmented reality. It incorporates compact imaging optics that feed an integrated camera viewing system and a low-noise, high-accuracy spectroradiometer. The system features a telescope with small entrance pupil to mimic the human eye and an integrated 2D image sensor, combined with the spectroradiometer measurement. This allows quick mapping, as well as accurate color and luminance uniformity.

Si-Ware Systems (Cairo)
The world’s smallest FTIR spectrometer that covers the widest spectral range at the higher end of NIR (1350 to 2500 nm), the NeoSpectra Micro provides better identification of materials and more accurate quantitative analysis. It is a platform that enables deployment at different stages of product development for material analysis applications. The NeoSpectra Micro has surpassed its past Prism-award-winning predecessor (NeoSpectra), as it is 60 times smaller, 100 times less expensive and can be scaled to larger volumes.

Spheryx Inc. (New York, U.S.)
The xSight accurately detects, counts and characterizes particle size and refractive index in the subvisible range (500 nm to 10 μm). It is the first instrument that can quickly provide quantitative measurement of size and composition in complex samples, in their native environments and in real time. In addition, the xSight can simultaneously identify and characterize similarly sized particles, and it measures them directly. The device’s high-speed analysis algorithm increases the rate of manufacturing process control.

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2018
Prism Awards for Photonics InnovationSPIEEugene ArthursNKT PhotonicsPrinceton Infrared TechnologiesXenics nvBlock EngineeringBlue Industry and ScienceDaylight Solutions Inc.LumiledsOsram Opto SemiconductorsSoraaLaserLuminarTeledyne DalsaClass 5 PhotonicsKMLabsOptoResNeaspec GmbHQuantumcytetomocubeHan's Laser TechnologyLIMO GmbHNUBURU Inc.ContinUse BiometricsLightpoint Medical Ltd.LumedicaAdlOptica Optical Systems GmbHOptotune Switzerland AGSpectrolight Inc.Gamma ScientificSi-Ware SystemsSpheryx Inc.AmericasEuropeAsia-PacificopticsimagingSensors & DetectorsdetectorsDisplaysTest & MeasurementBiophotonicsbiomedicallight sourceslasersSpecial Section

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