As a parent of an almost five-year-old, I’ve come to view the phrase "Some assembly required" with healthy skepticism born of experience. After all, how hard can it be to take the large, plastic parts from a box and bolt them together into a tricycle? Not very, I think confidently, then almost two hours later, I have only managed to connect the bigger pieces and am about to put the wheels on backwards. Review of the instructions (and consultation with a better handyman than I am) showed me what was wrong, and shortly thereafter, the wheels were rolling.
Most components of our industry need to be assembled before they are able to perform their function. A case in point are erbium-doped fiber amplifiers, which are essential components of undersea and terrestrial communications systems. These devices optically amplify fiberoptic signals; they also allow network designers to increase capacity by permitting signal amplification at many wavelengths. "Back to Basics" on p. 85 explains what they do, and they sound simple enough when described in words—several meters of erbium-doped fiber and a diode-laser pump are packaged in a box with input and output connectors.
Surely there must be more! Why does the technician assembling the fiber amplifiers shown on the cover have a large instruction manual and many tools? Component performance must be monitored during assembly, and rigorous specifications must be met before the process is complete. Diode lasers can be made in batches, but optical amplifiers are assembled by hand, as are so many of the tools and toys of our industry.
Assembling a bigger and better team
The masthead reveals we have added two more editors to the Laser Focus World team. Senior editor Hassaun Jones-Bey is an experienced journalist with an engineering background based in Northern California. He will write news for the magazine (and our twice-monthly Laser Report newsletter), solicit, edit, and write features, attend trade shows, and visit companies and facilities in his area. Assistant editor David Appell will also be writing news stories and articles. His Ph.D. in physics and experience working at Bell Labs and other places will quickly be put to use as we continue to put together the most comprehensive and complete coverage of the lasers and optoelectronics industries. We welcome both to our team!