Photonics forecasts

Jan. 18, 2018
Forecasting photonics in 2018 is a risky endeavor and I’ll keep in mind the quote attributed to Danish physicist Niels Bohr, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."
Conard Holton2

Forecasting photonics in 2018 is a risky endeavor and I’ll keep in mind the quote attributed to Danish physicist Niels Bohr, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." So, here goes: 2018 will see more scientific understanding of light; more advances in light-based technologies, products, and applications; greater adoption by manufacturers, designers, medical professionals, researchers, and consumers; and ever-more positive impacts on society.

These ‘daring’ predictions are very reasonable when considered within the trendlines we have all observed over the past decades. Furthermore, I can point to numerous articles in this issue that quantify or otherwise demonstrate my predictions. The cover story, for example, highlights the recent bases of growth for the laser industry, as revealed by our annual laser market review and forecast (see article). It projects global laser sales will rise to $13 billion in 2018—a healthy 5% growth after the torrid 18% pace of 2017.

New products and applications are constantly being developed because of the exponential increase in high-power semiconductor laser brilliance (W/cm2-sr), which executives from nLight show closely parallels the increased transistor count predicted by Moore’s Law (see article). And fiber lasers have a productive future ahead in manufacturing, medical diagnostics, communications, and applied sciences, helped by global researchers who met at the Fraunhofer IOF in Jena, Germany, to develop a strategic optical fiber technology roadmap (see article).

Other articles in this issue illustrate more specifically how 2018 and beyond may unfold in photonics, from an introduction to the state of the art in quantum sensing (see article) to clinical gains in OCT angiography (see article), and advances in spectroscopy that include Raman-scattering techniques (see article) and back-illuminated CCDs (see article). SPIE Photonics West/BiOS is, of course, the preeminent conference and tradeshow for confirming all these trends and for making further predictions. Our preview of the event focuses on many of the most important speakers and topics (see article), and will help you make your own future in 2018.

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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