Pervasive photonics in 2017

Jan. 23, 2017
By most measures, the fact that the wider world is recognizing the value of photonics is great news. Still, it is a bit unnerving to see the mergers and acquisitions that have recently swept up stalwart laser, optics, lidar, fiber optics, and additive manufacturing companies.
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By most measures, the fact that the wider world is recognizing the value of photonics is great news. Still, it is a bit unnerving to see the mergers and acquisitions that have recently swept up stalwart laser, optics, lidar, fiber optics, and additive manufacturing companies. Our cover image of the hungry corporate beast is not meant to prey on these fears-instead, think of it as conveying the message that lasers and photonics are essential fare for global businesses.

Starting with our cover, this issue of Laser Focus World showcases the most important market trends and technology developments in photonics. It includes, of course, our annual laser market review and forecast, which draws on data from Strategies Unlimited and projects that global laser sales will rise 6.6% in 2017, to a total of $11.1 billion (see page 32). As Senior Editor Gail Overton states in the article, "The secret is out: laser-enabled technologies are big business, and some companies are ripe for picking."

We also have our staff-written preview of SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, January 28-February 2 (see page 53), and several articles reflecting the vitality and impact of biophotonics, most notably about the many extensions of optical coherence tomography (OCT) that expand its clinical relevance (see page 66) and about a recent breakthrough in imaging size and cost, called meter-scale OCT (see page 13).

The list of topics reflecting technology trends this issue is much longer, ranging from laser safety products (see page 61), laser printing (see page 84), and tunable diode lasers (see page 72), to light sources for Raman spectroscopy (see page 76) and back-illuminated sCMOS cameras (see page 80). We also explore the hot topic of applying Industry 4.0 methods to industrial laser processes (see page 87) and further enrich our archive of how-to articles about precision optics, part of our Optical Engineering Exchange project (see pages 57 and 91).

For the New Year, I say we celebrate the pervasive nature of photonics.

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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