Don't count CLEO out yet

May 1, 2000
Some years back, the OSA's annual Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) was regarded by most laser-industry veterans as the leading venue for keeping up with the science and technology of lasers and electro-optics.

Some years back, the OSA's annual Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) was regarded by most laser-industry veterans as the leading venue for keeping up with the science and technology of lasers and electro-optics. Almost everyone would spend at least a day at the conference, which was the largest of its kind in North America. Many of the breakthroughs reported at CLEO were "hero" experiments, and muchif not mostof the research was government funded. Often there was little obvious "real-world" relevance to the esoteric science that was grist for the CLEO mill. More recently, changes in both the funding paradigms and some of the technology fundamentals, together with the hue and cry for telecommunications bandwidth, have driven much of the work reported at CLEO to a more real-world orientation. Nonetheless, the number of exhibitors for this month's event in San Francisco is apparently down by about 50 companies to 300, with preregistered attendees at about the same level as last May.

For many observers, these changes, when coupled with the literally overwhelming success this year of the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference in Baltimore (up about 50% from last year at 17,378 attendees), and the growth of SPIE's Photonics West in San Jose (which attracted 12,116 visitors, up 9% from last year) might lead one to suppose that CLEO's days are numbered. But none of us should forget that the underlying technologies that have "arrived" in commercial terms and are now being touted at OFC or Photonics West were probably first reported at CLEO. And while exhibitor counts at CLEO may suffer from the divided budgets of companies stretching to attend several "hot" shows, it is worth noting that the number of technical papers submitted to CLEO this year is at a record high of 1154 (up about 12%), and for the collocated QELS (Quantum Electronics and Laser Science) conference, the record submission of 500 papers is an increase of about 26% over last year.

Much of this intense activity is evident in the pages of the May issue of Laser Focus World. Our news sections highlight groundbreaking research and applications, while more than 15 features cover all aspects of optoelectronics from communications to virtual reality. In addition, a special report, "Shedding light on cancer diagnosis," takes a close look at imaging technologies in the context of diagnosing cancer.

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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