More information, please!

April 1, 1998
Our society's apparently insatiable demand for increasing amounts of information on a regular basis has led to huge technology investments in the so-called information infrastructure.

Our society's apparently insatiable demand for increasing amounts of information on a regular basis has led to huge technology investments in the so-called information infrastructure, both in terms of cost-effective high-volume transmission of data from place to place and in terms of storing the data for future use. New technologies have emerged, such as wavelength-division multiplexing, to increase utilization of existing infrastructure, while others have addressed such issues as improving the cost-effectiveness of new installations. Optical amplifiers, for example, allow for longer transmission distances in telecommunications systems with a consequent reduction in both installation and maintenance costs of the overall system. Manufacturers and researchers in the field are working with erbium-doped fiber amplifiers as well as Raman amplification configurations, among others (see p. 79).

Another technology being driven by demand for gigabit-speed fiberoptic communication is that of high-speed photodetectors. This requirement, together with advances in materials and processing techniques has spurred development of novel device structures to improve the speed, responsivity, and power-handling capabilities of high-speed detectors (see p. 101).

Meanwhile, the potential for a significant increase in information storage capacity is a major drive in the race to develo¥commercially viable short-wavelength semiconductor laser products emitting at blue and green wavelengths?substitution of blue light for infrared in reading optical disks can quadruple the capacity of the disks. Laboratory devices currently exhibit lifetimes that are too short for commercial products, but at least one manufacturer expects to commercialize a blue-output laser within the next year or two. This month?s Back to Basics describes some of the factors influencing the success and failures involved in these research efforts (see p. 91).

Changing places

Laser Focus World welcomes a new publisher this month. Kathy Bush, formerly national sales director for the magazine, has been promoted to publisher of the Optoelectronics Group publications. Kathy began her career at PennWell, and besides developing a winning sales organization for Laser Focus World, she was instrumental in the successful launch of Vision Systems Design magazine. Kathy succeeds Florence Oreiro who has been promoted to vice president, sales and marketing, for PennWell Media Online (see Laser Focus World, March 1998, p. 152). Congratulations to both!

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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