January 25, 2005, San Jose, CA--Photonics West got off to another strong start this year, with busy exhibition halls and crowded conference rooms (2300 papers in 80 technical conferences) offering the latest products and research involving lasers, optoelectronics, MEMS/MOEMS, imaging, and biomedical optics.
With record vendor participation (775 companies) in the exhibit hall and a growing international contingent, Photonics West continues to max out the San Jose Convention Center and surrounding venues. In fact, unless you signed up early, exhibit booth space and hotel rooms were nearly impossible to find. Even so, SPIE plans to return to San Jose for Photonics West in 2006, and the city is already working to further expand the convention center with a new annex that should be able to accommodate the conference's steady annual growth.
Following a busy weekend of technical and clinical sessions at the annual BiOS conference--which saw significant growth in its vendor exhibits, with 90 companies showcasing their components and instrumentation this year, up 30% from 2004, and record attendance at the annual Saturday night "hot topics" (a standing-room-only audience of nearly 500)--Day 1 of Photonics West '05 featured dozens of technical presentations and product demonstrations that reflected a subtle shift toward more applications emphasis at this traditionally technology-heavy show.
"There are so many emerging technologies and applications that it is a natural evolution for this industry and this conference to include more applications," said Marilyn Gorsuch, SPIE event manager for Photonics West. "And given the structure of Photonics West (BiOS, OPTO, LASE, and MOEMS-MEMS), there is a lot of synergy and a lot of potential for cross-fertilization."
This year's Photonics West was also impressive in the number of international exhibitors on the tradeshow floor. Germany alone is represented by some 70 companies, and Scotland, Wales, the UK, and France have all set up dedicated pavilions to showcase several of their young and growing photonics companies.
"We definitely attracted a lot of interest from international companies--more than last year," Gorsuch said.
As in years past, a number of vendors used Photonics West as a platform for launching new products, new strategies, and new ideas. Leading the pack were the fiber-laser vendors.
"Fiber lasers can do anything solid-state lasers can do," said R&D manager John Clowes from the UK company Fianium, which displaying several fiber-laser products in its booth.
--Nufern debuted its line of continuous-wave fiber laser modules, ready for integration into OEM laser applications for industrial and manufacturing environments. Three power ranges are covered (2-15 W, 15-25 W, and 25-50 W), with ~ 1 micron output. Nufern also introduced a PumpGuard optical fiber for multimode diodes, a PANDA-style fiber for visible and near-IR wavelengths, and a thulium-doped double clad fiber for operation around the eye-safe 2-micron wavelength region.
--Aculight premiered its new model PF1550-36 pulsed fiber laser in the eye-safe region near 1.54 micron, for applications in laser range-finding, sensing, and micromachining.
--Polychromix revealed preliminary device specifications for their near-infrared spectrometer. Polychromix's spectrometer solutions use a single InGaAs detector and range in wavelength from 0.9-2.5 micron, with a 4000:1 signal-to-noise ratio.
--Coherent introduced next-generation Fiber Array Package (FAP) diode lasers, now available at 940 and 980 nm and delivering 40W of CW power through an 800-micron fiber bundle with a numerical aperture of <0.11. The new lasers are primarily targeted at medical applications and fiber-laser pumping. Coherent is also introducing the CUBE family of lasers, available in five wavelengths: 375, 405, 440, 635, and 785 nm. The CUBE lasers are designed for commercial, industrial and research, including bioinstrumentation, reprographics, life sciences, and metrology.
--Southampton Photonics announced the latest additions to its range of redPOWER fiber lasers: 2-20W compact laser module; the 20-25W continuous wave/modulated (CWM) system; the enhanced 100W CWM fiber laser; the 1550nm 5-10W laser module/system; and the 1550nm redENERGY pulsed laser module.
--CVI Laser is featuring six new products at Photonics West, including a series of F-Theta lenses for the industrial materials processing market. F-Theta lenses are used to collimate the output of scanning mirror systems in laser marking, welding, and cutting applications. The company has also developed a long-lifetime 2.5J/cm2 coating for 193-213 nm wavelengths and has decided to make this the standard coating for windows and lenses for deep UV application products, according to Cailong Bao, Research and Development Manager.
--OSRAM Opto Semiconductors is showcasing new infrared laser and LED technology, including the OSRAM Sirilas SPL LG81, a new cost-effective, high-reliability laser for solid-state pumping, material processing, illumination and industrial applications that features a unique micro-channel cooler and higher output power of up to 30W CW. The company's LED exhibits include the OSTAR, a compact, high-power LED designed for miniature projection, head-up automotive displays and industrial applications; and the Golden DRAGON LED, a 2-W lead-free, surface-mount package LED that provides brighter light in an extremely low thermal resistance package.
--nLight introduced Cascades diode laser stack arrays, available in wavelengths ranging from 790 to 980 nm and from 1435 to 1570 nm, for direct-diode materials processing, medical applications, and as a pump source for a wide range of diode-pumped solid-state lasers. nLight also introduced a new fiber-bundled array product, the FBA 800, and a line of high-brightness single-emitter diode lasers in wavelengths ranging from 635 to 1600 nm.