2013: Winds of change

Jan. 1, 2013
The "global headwinds" phrase on our cover this month is a fair description of the recent and forecasted general economic environment—and it understates the whirlwind that many individual laser and photonics companies face because of cuts to defense and research budgets or oscillating semiconductor sales.
Conard Holton2

The "global headwinds" phrase on our cover this month is a fair description of the recent and forecasted general economic environment—and it understates the whirlwind that many individual laser and photonics companies face because of cuts to defense and research budgets or oscillating semiconductor sales. Yet as our Annual Laser Market Review and Forecast in this issue points out, laser technology is now so mature, economically important, and advantageous in so many applications that long-term sales predictions for most segments remain strong.

In this year's Market Review, senior editor Gail Overton, working with our research colleague Allen Nogee at Strategies Unlimited and David Belforte at Industrial Laser Solutions, writes that the 2013 global laser market will rise 3% from 2012, with segments such as micromaterials processing, instrumentation and sensors, and medical lasers leading the growth. Our annual market review* articles continue to be the most popular articles on our web site and for years have helped the lasers and photonics community understand the underlying technology drivers and application directions.

These drivers and directions are our fodder at Laser Focus World. For example, in this issue we describe how digital focal plane arrays can greatly improve infrared imaging capabilities (see page 90), how CW terahertz imaging based on low-cost telecom components can enable practical new spectroscopy and imaging applications (see page 73), and how quantum-cascade lasers are uniquely suited for infrared spectroscopy in the 5–14 μm wavelength region (see page 97). Also, the keys to many optical system advances are in evidence in topics such as aspheric stitching interferometry (see page 107), optical design software that helps ensure the manufacturability of aspheres (see page 86), and dichroic filters and mirrors that help simplify laser system design (see page 94).

So for 2013, here's to strong markets, more innovations in technology, and more applications that help improve the world. Best wishes for the New Year from Laser Focus World.

*Editor's note: Laser Focus World is proud to debut its "Full Spectrum" video series, launching with an invitation to the Laser & Photonics Marketplace Seminar, held in conjunction with SPIE Photonics West, where you can get more in-depth analysis and commentary on the laser markets.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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