In June an enormous and potentially overwhelming number of new products were introduced at Laser 2007 in Munich, Germany. Many of them will be covered in upcoming issues of Laser Focus World. In the meantime, you can find an overview of the show on page 22. Among the 1008 exhibiting companies were at least 50 with fiber lasers-many for the first time. That there were a lot of new fiber lasers was no surprise, but the large number of them gives pause for thought, especially since fiber-laser applications are currently cannibalizing those of “conventional” lasers. Nonetheless, the attractiveness of fiber lasers is undeniable, especially in many industrial applications (see page 93). And hopefully genuinely new applications will also emerge.
Speaking of novel applications, while mixing fluids and photons is not new-at the macro level, industrial cutting with water-guided lasers has been commercially available for at least ten years (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/204198)-more recently, researchers are investigating applications for fluid-guided light at the micro scale see (www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/259933). Dubbed “optofluidics,” this research was also the topic of a plenary talk by Demetri Psaltis of Caltech (see www.optofluidics.caltech.edu/) at Laser 2007. Guiding light through liquid-filled channels is the basis for lab-on-a-chip research potentially enabling analytical devices with single-molecule resolution (see page 30). And controlled microinfiltration of liquids into photonic crystals could allow post-fabrication defects to be introduced for creating novel adaptive optical devices (see cover and page 69).
I am pleased to welcome Valerie Coffey back to Laser Focus World. She rejoins us this month as a senior editor based in Nashua, NH. Previously Valerie spent three years with Laser Focus World before becoming chief editor of PennWell’s Connector Specifier magazine in 2003. She subsequently joined astronomy magazine Sky and Telescope. Valerie will assume the responsibilities formerly covered by Hassaun Jones-Bey, who has left to pursue other interests.