June 10, 2009--Not only was "Photonics for Energy" the topic of a PhAST applications session held on the PhotonXpo exhibit floor during the 2009 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC) held May 31-June 5 in Baltimore, MD, but it was also the emphasis of the Monday night Plenary presentation by Edward I. Moses from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory entitled "The National Ignition Facility: Exploring Matter Under Extreme Conditions" (see also "NIF is precursor to LIFE project").
No longer just an interesting science experiment, the NIF project and other fission/fusion projects around the world are calling attention to perhaps the greatest issue of the 21st century: how do we continue to consume energy without destroying the planet? In a building the size of a Wal-Mart, NIF is exploring this reality using 8000 large optics, 30,000 small optics, and 192 1.1 MJ beams, all focused with a pointing accuracy smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
Photonics technologists everywhere should be proud to be working on technologies that really matter to our future well-being. All of the products highlighted on the PhotonXpo exhibit floor during CLEO/IQEC are contributing to photonic systems that could change the future. From the smallest microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) actuator to a mid-infrared wavelength meter, CLEO/IQEC highlighted these and other products throughout the week-long conference. And in addition to PhotonXpo products, some exhibitors were making news: Oclaro announced that it had signed a definitive agreement with Newport Corporation in which Newport will acquire the New Focus business of Oclaro's Advanced Photonics Solutions division in exchange for the Newport Spectra Physics high-power laser diode business. Watch the video for a CLEO/IQEC 2009 overview: