Careful readers of the cover of Laser Focus World notice what we call the tag line above the logo: ADVANCES IN OPTICS, ELECTRO-OPTICS, AND OPTOELECTRONICS. Optics have long been a mainstay of our editorial coverage, as have the diverse technologies and accessories involved in electro-optics. But what does optoelectronics have to do with the big picture?
In a broad sense—everything. Optoelectronics encompasses light-emitters, detectors, and modulators and switches made from semiconductor materials using technologies of the electronics industry. Silicon-based devices are usually excluded (although silicon photodiodes remain one of the most important detector types). For our purposes, optoelectronic devices are those made from compound semiconductors such as gallium arsenide, gallium arsenic phosphide, indium gallium arsenide, and now, gallium nitride. Silicon, however, plays an important role in optoelectronic sensors. Optoelectronic components comprise a vast market that`s growing rapidly.
The special report by Robert Steele of Strategies Unlimited, on p. 62, looks at the top players in this market, which is expected to exceed $7 billion this year. Steele's report ranks companies based on their total revenues from optoelectronic components and lists the major product areas from each company cited. This global view just hints at an industry supported by the imagination of many creative engineers—the rising demand results from the development of end-use applications in areas such as telecommunications (see Fiberoptic Components Handbook following p. 82), personal computers and printers, and audio and video compact disks, to name just a few. The demand is being met by improvements in manufacturing and packaging (see photo on cover), and more and more of these advances involve laser and other instrumentation technologies.
Past issues of Laser Focus World have covered many of these advances, and in the next year, future issues will have more. In March, we will introduce a series of bimonthly supplements to the main magazine that will address components and technologies relating to detectors, displays, materials and processing, communications, and imaging. These supplements will permit us to continue our depth of coverage of the more-traditional laser topics and allow us to mark opportunities for future growth in our multibillion-dollar industry.