The making of photonics
In the years since the laser was invented, some serious resources have been focused on understanding the science and application of light, so that photonics now brings us—along with many other wonders—permanent vision correction via photorefractive surgery, or the ability to disable a hostile vessel from across the sea.
In the years since the laser was invented, some serious resources have been focused on understanding the science and application of light, so that photonics now brings us—along with many other wonders—permanent vision correction via photorefractive surgery, or the ability to disable a hostile vessel from across the sea. But at the frontiers of current research, advances in the materials science and fabrication technology are pushing photonics into some intriguing new areas.
Take the case of optical metamaterials. These artificially fabricated, subwavelength periodic structures are designed to interact with optical frequencies and theoretically can produce optical properties unobtainable from conventional materials (see page 61). Another example involves thin-film organic photoconductors, where advances in their fabrication and combination with atomic force microscopy probes may enable simultaneous optical and topographical imaging at resolutions beyond the diffraction limit (see page 73). And as the fabrication of optical fiber has grown increasingly sophisticated, many exotic types of fiber have emerged, including microstructured fibers. Amongst these, hollow-core photonic crystal fiber has recently been demonstrated, for the first time, transmitting ultrahigh-power femtosecond pulses without distortion at visible wavelengths—compression of green pulses by the fiber allows formation of solitons and boosts peak output (see cover and page 47).
While these examples epitomize the depth and breadth of what’s happening in the world’s photonics research labs—and the content of Laser Focus World—let’s not forget the “real-world” applications to be showcased this month at Laser World of Photonics in Munich, Germany. For 2011 this biennial event has a focus on lasers and laser systems for manufacturing, green photonics, and biophotonics—with defense and security applications also being featured separately for the first time. As usual there will plenty to see, with many of the displays highlighting advances in photonics-based fabrication ranging from marking to micromachining. So please join us in person at Hall B1, Stand 465, or visit us online for our coverage of one of the world’s largest photonics events.
Stephen G. Anderson
Editor in Chief