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Prism Awards honor innovations in photonics

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A laser camera to detect veins under the skin, a security system that identifies hidden drugs and explosives, and a laser for digital 3-D cinema projections were among the nine winners of the 2014 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation announced Feb. 5 at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and Photonics Spectra publisher Photonics Media, the annual awards recognize photonic products that break with conventional ideas, solve problems for the betterment of society and improve life through the application of light-based technologies. A panel of 26 expert judges from around the world deliberated upon 27 finalists in nine categories to choose the most influential photonic products of the past year.

“Our Prism Awards recognize the outstanding products that have emerged from ideas, concepts and the distillation of networking at previous conferences … More than 21,000 author-researchers contributed to the work presented [this year]. That represents an impressive amount of people hours – very bright people hours,” said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. “Smart, persistent believers ensured that these ideas survived the valleys of desolation and have come to market.”

It is when products result that this enormous intellectual effort makes a real impact, he added. And while photonics technology has an important role in improving quality of life, its applications have a vital economic impact as well.

“It is wonderful to witness the ongoing innovation from companies that have been part of the industry for years, as well as to support the emerging organizations and individuals shaping the future of the photonics industry,” said Laurin Publishing CEO Tom Laurin. “It is our great pleasure to collaborate annually with SPIE to present the Prism Awards, and we congratulate the 2014 winners and all the finalists.”

The 2014 winners

Advanced Manufacturing: The Photonic Professional GT 3-D Printer from Nanoscribe of Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany, produces complex structures on the nano and micron scale for research development and potential industrial applications in optics, medicine, fluidics, electronics and mechanics. The most complex 3-D objects, with feature sizes down to 160 nm, can be manufactured with heights ranging from a few hundred nanometers up to the millimeter range.

The 2014 Prism Awards winners gather for a photo at the end of the evening, along with leaders from SPIE and Photonics Media, which together produce the awards and the event.

Defense and Security: The T-COGNITION terahertz spectrometer from Hübner GmbH of Kassel, Germany, is an intelligent security system that identifies hidden drugs and ex-plosives in letters and small packages.

Developed in collaboration with Fraunhofer IPM, the device can identify the spectroscopic fingerprint of the hazardous substance or material by comparing the data with its own database. The system is designed to enhance work safety in prisons, at customs controls, and in companies and embassies, among other locations.

Detectors, Sensing, Imaging, and Cameras: Designed for full-featured medical and industrial applications, the OCTANE (Optical Coherence Tomography Advanced Nanophotonic Engine) 860 from Tornado Spectral Systems of Toronto is a spectrometer on a silicon chip designed for full-featured OCT imaging. The first of its kind, it harnesses the scalability of integrated optics.

Babak Parviz, Google Glass project leader and University of Washington professor, presented the Life Sciences and Biophotonics Prism Award to AccuVein Inc. of Huntington, N.Y., for the AV400 Vein Viewing System, a handheld augmented-reality laser camera that detects and projects a vein map on a patient’s skin.

Industrial Lasers:
The VPFL-ISP-1-40-HE-50000 laser from V-Gen of Tel Aviv, Israel, is an ytterbium fiber laser with the shortest pulse width, highest peak power and highest pulse energy in the market. It is capable of precise micromachining and deep engraving applications while drilling, cutting, scribing and contouring diverse materials such as silicon, metal and plastic.

Life Sciences and Biophotonics: The AV400 Vein Viewing System from Accuvein of Huntington, N.Y., is a handheld augmented-reality laser camera that uses IR light to display a real-time map of a person’s internal vasculature on the surface of his or her skin. The device uses hemoglobin’s IR absorption and an arrangement of scanned lasers to detect veins up to 10 mm deep. Minimizing human error, this visible, noninvasive circulatory blueprint allows for trouble-free IV starts, blood draws and a variety of other surgical procedures.

Optics and Optical Components: The r10004 Router from Compass Electro-Optical Systems of Milpitas, Calif., is the first router design to allow for full-mesh architecture and an ASIC-to-ASIC link using an optical interconnect. A large-scale 2-D parallel optical transceiver is assembled directly on the ASIC with analog driving circuits embedded as part of the CMOS process. Each ASIC communicates with all other ASICs in its neighborhood through optical chip-to-chip, board-to-board or rack-to-rack connectivity for service providers, data center operators and high-performance computing.

Other Light Sources: The Frequency Converted Green Laser Array by Necsel of Milpitas, Calif., is the first RGB laser solution in 3-D digital cinema projection and is now available for any visible lighting application. The laser uses patented frequency-converted technology to offer customizable wavelengths from 530 to 555 nm. The high-power, multiwavelength, extended-cavity surface- emitting devices achieves more than 3 W of output from a package that is less than one cubic inch.

A team from Hübner GmbH of Kassel, Germany, accepts one of the company’s two 2014 Prism Awards. In the Defense and Security category, the winner was its T-COGNITION terahertz spectrometer, and in the Scientific Lasers category, its C-WAVE, which combines the principle of CW optical parametric oscillators with intracavity frequency-doubling to generate coherent light across the whole visible range.

Scientific Lasers: The C-WAVE from Hübner GmbH of Kassel, Germany, combines the principle of CW optical parametric oscillators with intracavity frequency-doubling to generate coherent light across the whole visible range. This laser is a widely tunable, easily operated single source for applications such as spectroscopy, quantum optics and photochemistry, as it allows the user to tune from blue to red without any change of materials or components. It was developed in collaboration with Fraunhofer IPM.

Test, Measurement, Metrology: The MEMS FT-IR Spectrometer from Si-Ware Systems of Cairo is the first alignment-free, calibration-free and shock-resistant FT-IR module on a chip scale. Using a single-chip monolithic Michelson interferometer, the spectrometer contains all optical and mechanical components etched on silicon using standard MEMS fabrication processes. The module can be integrated into a wide variety of systems for qualitative or quantitative materials analysis applications in various industries, including the environment, health care, agriculture, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and law enforcement.

For more information about the companies and their winning products, visit

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2014
machine vision
Interpretation of an image of an object or scene through the use of optical noncontact sensing mechanisms for the purpose of obtaining information and/or controlling machines or processes.
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
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