2012: Confidence amid uncertainty

Since the recession of 2008–09, the swings in global markets have alternately inspired and rattled confidence among manufacturers and users of photonics technologies and products.

Jan 1st, 2012
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Since the recession of 2008–09, the swings in global markets have alternately inspired and rattled confidence among manufacturers and users of photonics technologies and products. These economic aftershocks have combined with rapidly evolving photonics technologies to create an atmosphere of constant and difficult-to-predict change—and fortunately one in which photonics is more intrinsic to the success of more applications than ever before.

As our Annual Review and Forecast in this issue notes, sales of lasers in 2011 stand at an all-time high (see page 42). Although growth was lower than during the previous boom year, such sales encourage confidence. The view into 2012 is also positive, with the caveat that growth will be more modest, and “unsettled” best describes the outlook.

The strategic view of photonics as a critical enabling technology remains the consistent source of optimism for the future, and some of these developments are described in this issue. Advances in frequency combs, for example, led to Nobel Prizes in 2005, and now, as described in our Photonic Frontiers article, are being developed for applications ranging from astronomy to radar and communications (see page 103).

Indeed, the perspective in this issue is much broader than just these applications as we explore techniques for matching fibers for fiber lasers (see page 81), tunable DFB diodes that extend spectroscopy for hydrocarbon sensing (see page 87), stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy that is opening new research windows (see page 75), and a terahertz spectrometer for molecular characterization (see page 113).

Numerous other developments are described in this first issue of 2012. Please let me know what you think of the articles and other inspiring advances we might cover. Best wishes for the New Year from all of us at Laser Focus World..

W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/
Editor in Chief

cholton@pennwell.com

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