The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Video)

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Three conferences and two exhibitions make SPIE Photonics West the world’s largest annual event in the industry. From plenary presentations to networking opportunities, this show offers an expansive, comprehensive look at the photonics industry.

From Jan. 27 through Feb. 1, San Francisco’s Moscone Center will be bustling with researchers, engineers and innovators from industry and academia. Each year, Photonics West touts more than 20,000 attendees from around the world. They present the latest research, as well as the latest devices and systems that can enable advancements in translational biophotonics, global health care, lasers for manufacturing, 3D technologies, photonics-based consumer products and more.

Photonics West 2018 begins with the largest of three conferences — BiOS: Biophotonics, Biomedical Optics and Imaging conference. Touted “the most important biomedical optics conference you can attend in 2018,” it will feature nearly 2,500 papers and presentations on topics such as biomedical optics, new imaging modalities, OCT, neurophotonics, optogenetics, tissue optics and nano/biophotonics.

BiOS is separated into six tracks — Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics; Neurophotonics, Neurosurgery and Optogenetics; Clinical Technologies and Systems; Tissue Optics, Laser-Tissue Interaction and Tissue Engineering; Biomedical Spectroscopy, Microscopy and Imaging; and Nano/Biophotonics. Sessions within those tracks include endoscopic microscopy, neural imaging and sensing, design and quality for biomedical technologies, single molecule spectroscopy, and plasmonics in biology and medicine.

The annual BiOS Hot Topics program, to be held on Jan. 27, will feature opening remarks by BiOS symposium chairs James Fujimoto of MIT and R. Rox Anderson of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine, in addition to talks on a variety of biophotonics-related topics.

The LASE: Laser Source Technologies, and Industrial Lasers and Applications conference brings together top players in the lasers field, who will present courses, plenary sessions and discussions about the latest research and developments in laser manufacturing, laser materials processing, fiber and diode lasers, laser resonators, and 3D fabrication technologies, among others. This conference is organized into four tracks — Laser Sources; Nonlinear Optics and Beam Guiding; Micro/Nano Applications; and Macro Applications.

The third Photonics West conference — OPTO: Optoelectronics, Photonic Materials and Devices — focuses on research in silicon photonics, photonic crystals, optoelectronics, semiconductor lasers, quantum dots and nanophotonics. It also features the latest developments in optoelectronic technologies and integration for a variety of commercial applications.

OPTO is organized into eight tracks — Optoelectronic Materials and Devices; Photonics Integration; Nanotechnologies in Photonics; MOEMS-MEMS in Photonics; Advanced Quantum and Optoelectronic Applications; Semiconductor Lasers and LEDs; Displays and Holography; Optical Communications: Devices to Systems.

Other exciting programs at Photonics West include the SPIE Startup Challenge. This “high-stakes, global competition” allows entrepreneurs five minutes to pitch their light-based technology product ideas to a team of business development experts and venture capitalists. Semifinalists each receive feedback from photonics industry leaders on their business model, a networking lunch with mentors and investors, and product demonstration time on the floor of the Photonics West exhibition. The best pitches are awarded cash prizes, and the entrepreneurs can refine their ideas and network further with experts at an entrepreneur boot camp.

There will be panel discussions, speakers and workshops, as well, during Photonics West, which will allow researchers and companies to discuss topics impacting the industry. Numerous program tracks will cover a wide range of industry topics, from photonic therapeutics and diagnostics to nonlinear optics and beam guiding. Workshops and “snapshot” courses will comprise basic and advanced topics including laser materials processing and SiPMs versus PMTs.

The expansive Photonics West exhibition brings together more than 1,300 companies from around the world to showcase their latest products, tools and applications. The exhibition offers attendees face-to-face access to the world’s top suppliers, hiring companies and business sessions. New product launches will complement daily product demonstrations in various technologies and applications; fiber optic components and systems, optical detectors, IR sources and detectors, and metrology are among them.

A separate BiOS Exhibition is also held during Photonics West. It focuses on technologies such as biomedical optics components, instrumentation and applications; lasers; molecular imaging; therapeutic lasers; nano/biophotonics; biosensors; and spectroscopic/microscopic imaging.

Special events during Photonics West include the Women in Optics panel, the Diversity and Inclusion program and reception, and a speed networking social. The annual Prism Awards (co-sponsored by SPIE and Photonics Media) are also held. Called the “Oscars of the photonics industry,” the annual awards recognize the world’s top innovators in each of 10 categories.

For more information about SPIE Photonics West, visit

Published: January 2018
A discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, which have been genetically modified to respond to light. Only the cells that have been modified to include light-sensitive proteins will be under control of the light. The ability to selectively target cells gives researchers precise control. Using light to control the excitation, inhibition and signaling pathways of specific cells or groups of...
A two-electrode device with an anode and a cathode that passes current in only one direction. It may be designed as an electron tube or as a semiconductor device.
Nanophotonics is a branch of science and technology that explores the behavior of light on the nanometer scale, typically at dimensions smaller than the wavelength of light. It involves the study and manipulation of light using nanoscale structures and materials, often at dimensions comparable to or smaller than the wavelength of the light being manipulated. Aspects and applications of nanophotonics include: Nanoscale optical components: Nanophotonics involves the design and fabrication of...
quantum dots
A quantum dot is a nanoscale semiconductor structure, typically composed of materials like cadmium selenide or indium arsenide, that exhibits unique quantum mechanical properties. These properties arise from the confinement of electrons within the dot, leading to discrete energy levels, or "quantization" of energy, similar to the behavior of individual atoms or molecules. Quantum dots have a size on the order of a few nanometers and can emit or absorb photons (light) with precise wavelengths,...
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