Photonics West draws rave reviews for participation

SAN JOSE, CA--The technical and commercial programs at Photonics West are continuing to grow in size and popularity. Total attendance at the 1999 meeting held in February grew to 11,176 from 10,572 the previous year. Combined exhibit and walk-in attendance climbed to 6528 from 5865 the previous year, and exhibit-only attendance jumped from 3064 to 3678. The number of exhibitors also increased from 460 last year to 527 this year.

Photonics West draws rave reviews for participation

Hassaun Jones-Bey

SAN JOSE, CA--The technical and commercial programs at Photonics West are continuing to grow in size and popularity. Total attendance at the 1999 meeting held in February grew to 11,176 from 10,572 the previous year. Combined exhibit and walk-in attendance climbed to 6528 from 5865 the previous year, and exhibit-only attendance jumped from 3064 to 3678. The number of exhibitors also increased from 460 last year to 527 this year.

Company representatives were generally pleased by the flow of visitors on the exhibit floor. The Coherent (Santa Clara, CA) booth, for instance, reported a 100% increase in sales leads over 1998. Several exhibitors also remarked that Photonics West had become their most important annual meeting. Debbie Hunt (Rocky Mountain Instruments; Lafayette, CO) was impressed by the quality of leads as well as the broad variety of industries represented among exhibit visitors. SPIE program director Scott Walker was most impressed by growth in the technical sessions, however, and said that Photonics West has not only established a name for itself but has also become the largest meeting of its kind in North America.

Walker said that three years ago technical-session attendance tended to be dominated by presenters, who were, in some instances, twice as numerous as attendees not presenting papers. Recently, however, the ratio of presenters to nonpresenting attendees has begun to even out, he said, with nonpresenters beginning to outnumber presenters. Particularly well-attended sessions at the 1999 meeting included the display conference in electronic imaging and a conference on commercial and biomedical applications of ultrafast lasers.

Therapeutic laser applications presented in the latter conference included a description by Greg Spooner (University of Michigan) of a system developed by IntraLase (Ann Arbor, MI) for corneal refractive surgery. The diode-pumped Nd:glass regen system yielded an output of 25 µJ in 0.5-ps pulses at 3 kHz. The clinical efficacy of a two-photon photodynamic-therapy system was also discussed by Eric Wachter of Photogen (Knoxville, TN).

Biomedical-imaging applications of multiphoton-excited fluorescence were also discussed and included a report by Stefan Hell (Max-Plank-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry; Göttingen, Germany) of real-time live-cell imaging using multiple confocal spots imaged in parallel. Industrial applications of ultrafast lasers discussed at the meeting included precision materials processing with ultrafast chirped amplifiers, reported by Brent Stuart of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA).

LEOMA`s future

Administrative matters attended to at the meeting included a forum to assess the need for a laser-industry trade association and two panel discussions focused on bolstering collaborative efforts between SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA). Breck Hitp of the Laser and Electro-Optics Manufacturers` Association (LEOMA; Pacifica, CA) organized the trade-association forum in response to declining LEOMA membership, as many traditional laser companies continue to redefine themselves to coincide with emerging optoelectronic markets. Despite the fact that only two of the six companies represented in the panel discussion were LEOMA members, most of the comments indicated a need for LEOMA to continue and to actually take on a larger role in some areas, Hitp said. He added that almost 60 people attended the forum, primarily representing executive management of laser and optoelectronics companies.

Panel discussions concerning the proposed unification of the OSA and SPIE continued to improve the climate for collaboration between the two societies, according to OSA past president and panel member Robert Byer. The memberships of both societies are scheduled to vote on the proposal in May. Ratification by SPIE will require approval by 50% of all members and ratification by the OSA will require approval by two-thirds of ballots cast.

The question of unification has been particularly divisive within the OSA because of the very different cultures of the two organizations. While many OSA members are in favor of the unification for purposes of efficiency, many others are apprehensive at the thought of combining the academic, peer-reviewed approach of the OSA into one society with the "let`s do it" engineering approach of SPIE, he said. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, however, the overall process will still have been beneficial because it is already improving collaboration between the two societies, he said.

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