Acronyms have been used to simplify communications for thousands of years—the official name for the Roman Republic, and then Empire, was SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus). Today, a technology-based profession like photonics is rife with critical and confusing acronyms, as any engineer or journalist in the field can tell you.
For anyone in the industry, the simple act of reading a table of contents in our magazine can be daunting (and we strive for clarity!). For example, our cover story describes how QI (quantitative imaging) adds the advantage of optics to AFM (atomic force microscopy). An article on SC (supercontinuum) lasers shows how an all-fiber design extends the application window into the mid-IR (infrared). And an article on laser projection displays describes a recent design based on 2D (two-dimensional) SLMs (spatial light modulators) that improves upon previous designs, which used a GLV (grating light valve) or GEMS (grating electromechanical systems) and an OPO (optical parametric oscillator).
I could go on with many more examples, but instead I would like to introduce an antidote to acronym confusion. First, we have redesigned OptoIQ.com, which is one of the web sites in our online network that includes LFW (Laser Focus World), ILS (Industrial Laser Solutions), and BOW (BioOptics World). The OptoIQ site is now focused on photonics business and education (EDU).
The EDU side of the site features links and news from and about universities, community colleges, company-sponsored training courses, grants, and awards. It also has regular blogs from our editors and guests, including the weekly blog "Photonics Building Blocks." In it, contributing editor Jeff Hecht not only defines common acronyms, but provides an explanation of the terms along with some amusing insights. A blog is not a cure for all acronyms, but it can be a good guide to translation.
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief