New Year, new beginnings

Jan. 1, 2001
Prosperity is a term traditionally associated with the dawning of a New Year; and it's certainly been a recurrent theme of the past couple of years as many have benefited from the high-tech economic boom.

Prosperity is a term traditionally associated with the dawning of a New Year; and it's certainly been a recurrent theme of the past couple of years as many have benefited from the high-tech economic boom. In the world of optoelectronics, optical communications is driving unprecedented commercial growtha point emphasized by this year's annual Review and Forecast of the Laser Markets, which suggests the global market for lasers could reach almost $12 billion in 2001 (see p. 88).

The New Year also presents us at Laser Focus World with an opportunity to introduce new editorial content in keeping with our overall goal of providing readers with information that is timely, useful, and interesting. The significance of optical communications cannot be overstated and has led us to start a new series this month that introduces optical networking to our readers. During the next year, contributing editor Jeff Hecht will explain the intricacies of optical networking and its likely impact on the way in which data is transmitted and processed (see p. 115). In another new series starting this month, contributing editor Eric Lerner examines a technology as fundamental to optoelectronics as the laser. In "Understanding Detectors," Lerner will review the many types of detectors available, explain how they work, and highlight many of their applications (see p. 181). By the way, readers looking for our ongoing "Back to Basics" series should note that it will return in April 2001, after a three-month hiatus.

One example of the "across-the-board" impact that optical communications is having is in the field of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Although MEMS technology has been around for some timeit is used, for instance, in the accelerometers of automobile air-bag sensorsits potential in the field of optical switching is huge. In this month's special report our editors explore various aspects of MEMS technology and its potential effect on many aspects of our lives, not just in communications (see p. 122). Another aspect of optoelectronics that ultimately will have a major impact on our lives is that of ultrafast technology. Femtosecond pulses can interact with matter without any significant collateral effect, which seems likely to open up a host of ultrafast applications. In medical therapy, for instance, companies are already developing femtosecond laser systems targeted at specific surgical applications (see p. 143).

No doubt 2001 also will bring a few unexpected optoelectronic events and we look forward to reporting on those as the year progresses. In the meantime, best wishes for a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

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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