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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
Jan 2021

The best way to predict the future

DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]
Welcome to 2021, and all the clean-slate, fresh-start, corners-turned positivity that a new year represents. After the grueling economic, social, and political tumult of 2020, the inclination toward optimism feels both dangerous and unavoidable — much like our inclination toward prediction. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that attempting to predict the future can be a very hazardous business indeed.

With these hazards very much in mind, allow me to introduce Photonics Spectra’s annual trends issue.

Rather than relying on hubris, our coverage of trends borrows from the wisdom of computer scientist Alan Kay, who said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

The seven feature articles within these pages embody this approach by first surveying representative industry benchmarks for lasers, imaging, optics, and spectroscopy, and then exploring the potential benefits that impending advancements may soon deliver.

Marie Freebody kicks off the section with a report on the market demand that ultrafast lasers are driving for new optical components, and why industry collaboration will be critical to sustain this trend.

James Schlett’s laser processing feature zeros in on the use of coherent light to cut and weld glass materials and convert them into durable data storage mediums. Farooq Ahmed, in turn, examines how lasers are serving as tools as much as the subjects of laboratory research.

Our two imaging features — from Douglas Farmer and Hank Hogan, respectively — explore application trends for high-speed machine vision systems and cameras designed to peer beyond the visible spectrum.

A feature from Hamamatsu’s John Gilmore contributes perspective on how faster, smaller spectroscopy instruments are expanding conventional applications and probing new end markets. While three additional industry leaders — Richard A. Crocombe, Pauline E. Leary, and Brooke W. Kammrath — collaboratively report on how portable spectrometers are bringing analytical capabilities beyond the lab and directly to the sample in applications from forensics to cultural heritage.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating for the January issue: In addition to this month’s features, the issue is itself a first glimpse into a new future for Photonics Spectra that will apply a more journalistic and applications-focused approach to the technologies and industries we cover.

We’re not inventing this future so much as restoring past traditions. Either way, it’s another reason for us to be optimistic about 2021.
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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