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Pushing the boundaries of accuracy and precision

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DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]

DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITORThose who favor precise language should understand that precision does not mean the same thing as accuracy — at least not to folks for whom precision and accuracy are the stock-in-trade.

In science and engineering, accuracy describes how closely a measurement conforms to the true value of the measured item. Precision is defined by how consistently repeated measurements arrive at the same value.

One can be accurate without being precise. A golfer might record a hole-in-one after a lucky stroke, while shooting over par for each hole thereafter.

Science and engineering are nothing without the ability to consistently reproduce the same results. This month’s issue of Photonics Spectra focuses on how the increasing precision of photonic instrumentation is helping to expand and refine these disciplines.

Advancements in Raman spectrometry, for example, are helping to both expand and refine scientific pursuits. Here, contributing editor Farooq Ahmed’s feature describes how a new generation of Raman instrumentation is making the technology more accessible to nonspecialists even as new techniques are enhancing Raman spectroscopy’s ability to achieve finer and more robust measurements.

Another example is single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), which are almost emblematic of precision instrumentation, especially for measuring the timing of events with picosecond accuracy. Here, Michel Antolovic of Pi Imaging Technology and Rainer Erdmann of PicoQuant highlight how developments in CMOS SPAD technology are poised to revolutionize confocal microscopy and other scientific techniques.


Here, Coherent’s Darryl McCoy and Marco Arrigoni describe an emerging class of more intuitive and versatile femtosecond-pulsed lasers designed with the non-laser-specialist in mind. The technology is prompting broader adoption of these lasers in applications, including additive manufacturing, label-free in vivo imaging, and terahertz generation and detection.

Again, science and engineering are nothing without accuracy and precision. In journalism, as in economics, it is often all we can do to be roughly right rather than precisely wrong. Here, news editor Jake Saltzman exemplifies the art of walking this fine line with an outstanding, well-researched report on the potential risks to the photonics industry’s supply chains and markets in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Published: April 2022
Editorial

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