Breaking new ground

April 1, 2007
Most of the time Laser Focus World covers the groundbreaking work of photonics pioneers, so it makes a nice change when, once in a while, we can actually be a pioneer.

Most of the time Laser Focus World covers the groundbreaking work of photonics pioneers, so it makes a nice change when, once in a while, we can actually be a pioneer. Such was the case in January 1995 when-only a few years after Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau created the World Wide Web-Laser Focus World launched its first Web site. Initiated by then-editorial-director Jeffrey Bairstow, who was intrigued by the potential of the Web, the pioneering site was the first attempt by any PennWell magazine to use this new digital medium-and it was soon rated in the top 5% of all Web sites at the time.

Now fast-forward to 2007 and consider this: according to, $19.5 billion will be spent this year on Internet advertising. With so much at stake it’s no surprise that we’re staying at the forefront of the digital media era. Our unremitting efforts to deliver the most comprehensive technical information resource available to photonics engineers and other professionals have yielded a new Laser Focus World Web site. See it for yourself at, and please send us your comments or suggestions.

Like our digital offerings, the magazine continues to showcase the real pioneers of this industry and the results of their work. Active optical compensation (adaptive optics) was first suggested by Horace Babcock in 1953 and today is routinely used by the military and astronomers, but new applications are emerging, such as bioimaging (see page 71). Quantum-cascade lasers were first demonstrated by Jerome Faist, Federico Capasso, et al. in 1994 and are now reaching commercial viability in gas-sensing applications (see page 90). And the term “photonic-crystal fiber” was reportedly coined by Philip Russell who demonstrated the earliest such fibers-and their unique properties seem likely to lead to a number of key applications (see page 83). Meanwhile, although the first images produced by terahertz radiation date back to the 1960s, current work in the field is producing some impressive results, especially as turnkey systems make it to market (see page 63 and the cover).

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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