So many choices . . .

May 1st, 2002

Photonics and optoelectronics technologies cut a broad swath through the science and technology universe. Just how broad is evident from a brief look at the advanced program of this month's Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) to be held in Long Beach, CA. Attendees can choose from an almost overwhelming array of technical papers that cover the gamut of optoelectronics with session topics ranging from "Fusion and high-power lasers" to "Novel biomedical imaging and detection." A few of these choices are detailed in our preview of CLEO (see p. 19).

Our readers this month also have lots to choose from. The May issue is our largest each year and serves to emphasize our comprehensive coverage of optical technologies, from the laboratory to commercial products. The ultrafast system on the cover, for example, represents a new generation of femtosecond lasers designed for use in the "real world" of materials processing (see p. 77). In fact, almost all types of lasers have been used for materials processing with varying degrees of success. Two of the more successful are excimer and carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers. One commercial application of excimers is drilling small holes in the print heads of inkjet printer nozzles (see p. 165), while CO2 lasers can effectively mark, cut, drill, and weld inorganic materials (see p. 85).

Market-oriented development results in advances tailored to the needs of a specific application. The demand for Gaussian-type circular beam intensity profiles, for example, has produced novel vertical-cavity-laser designs with increased single-mode output power (see p. 119), while current designs of other semiconductor devices have evolved to blue-emitting and tunable lasers (see p. 145). The optical communications market has done more than any other to drive development of new photonic devices: thin-film filter technology has been adopted for wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM; see p. 111), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) now form the basis of many components (see p. 181), and advances in WDM are pushing the limits of test equipment so novel alternatives are being sought (see p. 173).

Market orientation is also the basis for CLEO's Laser and Electro-optic Applications Program (LEAP), which adds a commercial component to the technical program. Among the choices offered by LEAP is a session on optical manufacturing sponsored by Laser Focus World and its new sister magazine Optical Manufacturing. More information about LEAP is available at www.cleoconference.org.

Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

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