CONFERENCE REVIEW: Optics East goes quietly

Optics East was a quiet show, without much fanfare or company activity focused around it.

Optics East was a quiet show, without much fanfare or company activity focused around it. Held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Sept. 9-12, tthe exhibition consisted of about three aisles of booths and one of tabletop exhibits. With 1300 attendees and 93 exhibitors, this year’s show was similar in size to 2006 with its 1600 attendees, but well below its peak of 5800 several years ago.

The technical program was more robust, with the focus of its 800 papers and 22 conference sessions on sensors and communications. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) was a major participant, with professor of chemistry Moungi Bawendi giving a plenary presentation on the science and technology of semiconductor-nanocrystal quantum dots. Bawendi described many devices that arise from the multiexciton physics and carrier multiplication in quantum dots, including light-emitting devices, solar cells, and sensors in biological and biomedical imaging. Other papers in “Quantum Communications Realized” focused on quantum cryptography, quantum entanglement, and quantum-key distribution.

Papers like those in the section “Active and Passive Optical Components for Communications” matched the products and technology exhibited on the floor. Exhibitors EM4 (Bedford, MA), Lumics (Berlin, Germany), MEMS Optical (Huntsville, AL), and Strasbaugh (San Luis Obispo, CA), all serve the telecom industry and have telecom offerings, but few had new products or announcements. AFL Telecommunications (Spartanburg, SC) announced a fiber fusion splicer, while Avantes (Broomfield, CA), exhibiting with Scientific Solutions (N. Chelmsford, MA), introduced a high-sensitivity CCD spectrometer for portable use. RSoft Design Group (Ossining, NY) announced the 8.0 version of its CAD software with 3-D viewing options.

Held in the northeast since 1996, Optics East, previously known as Photonics East, never gained the momentum of Photonics West. “The show was huge before the telecom bust,” said Gary Wadsworth, product manager at Power Technology (Little Rock, AR). “But after that, there were never enough exhibitors or attendees to keep it going.”

Conference organizer SPIE has decided not to continue the event. “Exhibitors and attendees wanted fewer choices, and smaller shows that are very focused by topic ensure they reach their target audience,” said Bonnie Peterson, event manager. For now, SPIE is exploring ways to continue serving the technical and scientific community in the northeast.

Valerie C. Coffey

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