The tip of the iceberg

According to some estimates, more than $8 billion will be spent this year on worldwide research and development related to nanotechnology.

Aug 1st, 2005

According to some estimates, more than $8 billion will be spent this year on worldwide research and development related to nanotechnology. About half of that will come from the world’s governments, with investors and industry providing the remainder. The long-term payoff is, of course, expected to be huge-eventually affecting almost all major industries, although the two areas most likely to be affected initially are the life sciences and materials. At these levels of R&D investment, photonics and optoelectronics will certainly gain a big boost-whether from the metrology and manipulation of the “tiny technology” or from the many new nano-related applications that will emerge. Because of this potential, we decided to examine several aspects of nanotechnology in the context of photonics . . . looking below the visible “tip of the iceberg” to the long-term impact that nano may have on photonics-from funding sources to the numerous potential applications; and from methods of nano imaging, to the possibility that nanoparticles may actually pose risks to human health and the environment. Our staff-written nanophotonics report begins on page 72.

Laser wars

Fiber lasers are one of the “hottest” current laser technologies, with many recent photonics conferences attracting “standing room only” at fiber-laser sessions. Several new fiber lasers were introduced at Laser 2005 in Munich in June, including a pulsed system for marking from Southampton Photonics (Southampton, England) and a 4-kW system from IPG Photonics (Oxford, MA). The efficiency and beam quality compared to other laser types has made fiber lasers almost irresistible in many applications, with interest being further fueled by steadily increasing output powers (see p. 66). Nonetheless, competition between laser types remains fierce in certain arenas. Trumpf (Ditzingen, Germany) introduced a 4-kW diode-pumped disk laser at Laser 2005, which further raised the stakes in the industrial market. In fact, there was even a plenary session in Munich at which the benefits of the two laser types were hotly debated. The attributes of the disk laser are explained on page 102.

Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief

stevega@pennwell.com

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