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Photonics Spectra
Since 1967, Photonics Spectra magazine has defined the science and industry of photonics, providing both technical and practical information for every aspect of the global industry and promoting an international dialogue among the engineers, scientists and end users who develop, commercialize and buy photonics products. Stay current with a FREE subscription to the digital or print edition.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
Apr 2021

Where there’s smoke, there’s photonics

DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]
DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITORNo silver lining will ever be enough to compensate for the lives and livelihoods lost to COVID-19. There was, however, one positive indicator for the scale of the global pandemic: Diminished travel and commute times between March and July prompted a 13% drop in fine-particle pollution compared to the same period in 2019. Pollution levels dropped again in November and December, according to IQAir’s annual World Air Quality Report.

Yet, ever reluctant to spare any good news, the year 2020 also brought record-breaking wildfires to the Western U.S. In addition to blackening millions of acres, the fires drove the U.S. annual average for the deadliest type of air pollution up by almost 7% versus all of 2019, according to the report. In effect, the wildfires made ash of the country’s pandemic-related clean air gains.

Scientists have blamed climate change, in part, for the West’s ever-expanding wildfire seasons, which suggests the dark cloud of the 2020 wildfires may only expand in the years ahead. But it also underscores the valuable role that photonics will play in minimizing the impact of wildfires before, during, and after the burn.

In this month’s cover story on environmental monitoring, James Schlett surveys the spectrum of imaging and other optical technologies that scientists and U.S. Forest Service officials are leveraging to spot fires earlier and contain them before they spread. Spotting wildfires is by no means a new application for photonics. But the component technologies continue to advance and integrate better to prompt earlier and more coordinated action. Schlett’s feature appears here.

One of the key themes of the research driving these advancements is the prerequisite collaboration between industry, government, and academia, and the subsequent benefits all stakeholders receive. This theme echoes through several other features in this month’s issue.

In this feature article, G. Scott Libonate from JENOPTIK describes the continuing reductionsin the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of photonic gear used in soldier systems and aerial platforms. Hank Hogan surveys the directed-energy weapon systems used for defense. And here, Markus Tarin of MoviTHERM updates readers on thermal imaging technology as its application expands beyond defense to benefit users in the commercial sector.

Contributions from government, industry, and academia are all essential to the advancement of photonics technology, and all can reap its rewards.
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
 
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
 
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
 
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