The rise of advanced manufacturing processes and the use of laser-based equipment in China helped the global laser industry recover quickly from the recession.
The rise of advanced manufacturing processes and the use of laser-based equipment in China helped the global laser industry recover quickly from the recession. For years the photonics industry in China was known primarily for producing low-cost optics, crystals for solid-state lasers, low-power diode lasers, and CO2 glass tubes. The recent LASER World of Photonics China exhibition in Shanghai demonstrated to me that the Chinese laser industry has become much more sophisticated and is primarily focused on the country’s vast domestic markets—however, it is also ready to become a competitive factor in global markets (see page 31).
Perhaps some Chinese laser companies will follow the path taken by Huawei, the maker of optical telecom components and systems that first made its mark in developing regions of the world before becoming a leading supplier in advanced economies. Whatever the domestic and export strategies of Chinese laser companies, they will owe a debt to Prof. Deng Shusen, who recently passed away. He founded and for several terms led the Laser Processing Committee of the Chinese Optical Society and played a vital role in developing the Chinese industrial laser community.
Photonics technologies continue to enable new applications and products, whatever the geographical region. Examples in this issue range from senior editor Gail Overton’s article on lidar applied to improving wind turbine performance (see page 49), to contributing editor Jeff Hecht’s article on emerging photonics applications for graphene (see page 62).
Products can make applications practical and widespread, and this issue honors three that received CLEO/Laser Focus World 2012 Innovation Awards: The winner was BioPhotonic Solutions, and honorable mentions went to attocube systems and Nufern (see page 47). The awards were presented during CLEO, held in San Jose May 6–11, and represent great examples of how innovation remains the core element driving global photonics markets.
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief