Europe: At the forefront of photonics

When launching the European Technology Platform in Photonics (called Photonics21) late in 2005, European Commissioner Viviane Reding stressed the importance to European competitiveness of investment in R&D and a common vision of the applications and technologies where Europe can make an impact.

Th 0706lfw Sanderson

When launching the European Technology Platform in Photonics (called Photonics21) late in 2005, European Commissioner Viviane Reding stressed the importance to European competitiveness of investment in R&D and a common vision of the applications and technologies where Europe can make an impact. Although Europe invests less overall on R&D (about 2% of GDP) than Japan or the U.S.A., it can still boast a good number of world class photonics research centers that have produced significant advances in photonics. But if the goal is to drive economic growth, research is only the beginning of a process that hopefully leads to commercial successes. How well Photonics21 can facilitate this process by bringing the industry together under a common vision is still subject to debate. So this month’s special “European Report” examines how some of Europe’s photonics leaders feel about Photonics21 and its ability to help Europe stay competitive and at the forefront of photonics (see page 84).

Europe is also home to one of the world’s largest photonics conferences, Laser 2007, which takes place this month in Munich. Concurrent meetings include (to name only a few) the European Conference on Biomedical Optics, Lasers in Manufacturing, and CLEO Europe/IQEC. Together these meetings offer a wide-ranging picture of optics and photonics developments. But for those not fortunate enough to be in Munich, you can read about many of these advances here at Laser Focus World. Biomedical optics, for instance, has become a “hot” area-from imaging cells (see page 99) to optical noninvasive diagnostic devices (see page 123). Pulsed lasers have expanded opportunities for lasers in manufacturing, adding flexibility to processes like micromachining and micromilling (see page 127). And in this month’s “Photonics Frontiers” feature contributing editor Jeff Hecht describes the current state of the art in frequency combs-a technique for which a European (Theodor W. Hänsch, director of the Max Plank Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany) shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2005 (see page 91).

Th 0706lfw Sanderson
Click here to enlarge image

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

More in Research