Antidote to short-term thinking

Aug. 1, 2012
Uncertainty and turmoil in global markets is raising economic concerns, but for investors in and members of the photonics community the long-term value of photonics remains clear.
Conard Holton2

Uncertainty and turmoil in global markets is raising economic concerns, but for investors in and members of the photonics community the long-term value of photonics remains clear. The forthcoming “Harnessing Light” report, to be introduced at the SPIE Optics+Photonics Conference in San Diego (August 12–16), will be an opportunity to describe to the public and policy makers the critical roles that we know optics and photonics play in our economy, security, and personal lives.

The report is published by the US-based National Academies and written by photonics researchers and business leaders. If the companies, research groups, and professional societies in the photonics community work to advance its findings, then real progress could be made in priorities such as ensuring competitive strength, meeting workforce needs, and continuing to build a sound research and manufacturing infrastructure.

For our part, the staff of Laser Focus World will continue to bring our worldwide audience articles on the most recent technology developments, market trends, and products. Our cover article reports on work by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that uses gradient field microscopy to help change clinical pathology (page 41). Other reports show advances in green laser diodes for highly efficient displays (page 20) and the growing use of optical fibers for sensing in harsh environments, such as oil and gas wells (page 27). And contributing editor Jeff Hecht summarizes many of the recent developments in quantum-cascade lasers, which are enabling exciting applications that range from sensitive measurement devices to military countermeasures (page 53).

As photonics entrepreneur and investor Jan Melles writes in this issue’s Market Insights column (page 37), the investment of sufficient funds for R&D is critical to ensuring the success of individual companies. We urge a similar way of thinking when it comes to photonics and the future.

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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