PREVIEW: LASER, WORLD OF PHOTONICS: Munich event may shun economic woes

Current travel restrictions at many firms may have kept some of us at our desks instead of out on the road, but they certainly haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of organizers of Laser, World of Photonics in Germany.

May 1st, 2009
Th Preview 01

Current travel restrictions at many firms may have kept some of us at our desks instead of out on the road, but they certainly haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of organizers of Laser, World of Photonics in Germany. This year marks the 19th “anniversary” of the biennial conference and exhibition—one of the world’s largest photonics events, held this year from June 15 to 18 at the International Congress Centre Munich—and despite the global economic malaise, the growth trend is positive, according to Klaus Dittrich, managing director of Munich Trade Fair International (Messe München International), which organizes the event (see Laser, World of Photonics).

Speaking at a press conference in March, Dittrich declined to give specifics but said that the growth arises from an increase in the number of exhibiting firms and average booth size. To accommodate the more than 1000 companies and 25,000 or so visitors expected in Munich this year, he said the convention center will open an additional 10,000 m2 of exhibit space and a fourth exhibit hall bringing the total space to 42,000 m2. Besides continued growth, Dittrich also highlighted changes to the orientation of the event, noting the 2009 “Laser” will be more oriented toward applications than in the past.

Images courtesy of Schott AG, High Q Laser Innovation GmbH, iie GmbH, Amtron GmbH.
Click here to enlarge image

Biophotonics and life sciences, lasers in photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, and illumination are key themes for the 2009 conference and exhibition. Biophotonics (see represents an important and trendsetting technology segment that’s expected to drive new markets in the future, explained Dittrich. “Both the Laser show and the World of Photonics Congress have specifically extended their biophotonics and life-sciences sections this year,” he said, while noting that the other two topics are key to sustainable growth. Unique alliances between industries, such as semiconductor processing expertise applied to PV production, are likely to speed global implementation of PV technology; more efficient cells will bring costs down and grid parity nearer, he said. And Dittrich noted that 2012 will bring the end of conventional light-bulb production in Europe, ushering in a new era of flexible photonic light sources—such as LEDs—that are an essential element of future energy savings.

Reding to open photonics congress

The EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, will open the World of Photonics Congress on Monday, June 15. Photonics manufacturing is a high-growth business in Europe having reached a total of €54 billion (US$73 billion) in 2007, and estimated at €61 billion (US$83 billion) in 2008—that’s more than the total European production of silicon semiconductors (€49 billion in 2007). The growing stature of photonics and its significance in terms of Europe’s future economic growth are not lost on European Union (EU) politicians or those of the member states.

Reding will “open the door” to an international event with more than 2300 lectures and presentations organized under seven umbrella conferences that offer visitors a comprehensive selection of optics and photonics material from around the globe. At the basic-science level is CLEO/Europe-IQEC, organized by the European Physical Society (EPS), the Optical Society of America (OSA), and IEEE/LEOS. With a more applied orientation are Frontiers in Electronic Imaging and Manufacturing of Optical Components—organized by the European Optical Society (EOS); Lasers in Manufacturing (LIM)—organized by the German Scientific Laser Society (WLT); Medical Laser Applications—organized by the German Association for Laser Medicine (DGLM); and the European Conference on Biomedical Optics—organized by SPIE Europe and the OSA. SPIE Europe is also organizing a conference on Optical Metrology. Completing the package are a number of application panels “intended to bridge the gap between theory and practice,” explained Dittrich. Arranged by Messe München, these panels will showcase real-world uses of lasers.

With such broad content at the Congress, it’s difficult to do more than highlight a few of the program’s more interesting aspects. Erich Ippen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) opens CLEO/Europe-EQEC 2009 with a plenary talk entitled “Femtosecond Optics: More Than Just Really Fast,” which highlights applications of ultrafast pulses. In an invited paper, Stefan Hell of the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Goettingen, Germany) discusses far-field optical nanoscopy and its applications in biology and the physical sciences. And in a joint CLEO-LIM session on laser materials processing, Seiji Katayama from the Joining and Welding Institute at Osaka University in Japan presents an invited paper entitled “Fundamentals of Fiber Laser Remote Welding and Deep Penetration Welding.”

No photonics event would be complete without its fiber-laser content. A “Tech Focus” session from the CLEO-LIM partnership covers fiber lasers and amplifiers. It is jointly chaired by David Richardson from the Optoelectronics Research Center at the University of Southampton (England) and Frank Vollertsen of the Bremer Institut für Angewandte Strahltechnik (BIAS; Germany). Speakers from Coherent, IPG Photonics, Nufern, and SPI Lasers among others will discuss technical trends and market developments in the field.

The biomedical optics conferences (ECBO 2009) range from basic science sessions to application-oriented presentations and cover topics such as advanced microscopy, clinical and biomedical spectroscopy, molecular imaging, optical coherence tomography and coherence techniques, therapeutic laser applications and laser-tissue interactions among others. The ECBO 2009 plenary—“Bridging the Ocean of Biomedical Optics”—includes two speakers: Jerome Mertz from Boston University discusses new techniques for out-of-focus background rejection, and Vasilis Ntziachristos from the Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging, Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, discusses emerging mesoscopic and macroscopic photonic imaging.

Frontiers in Electronic Imaging is chaired by Peter Seitz from the University of Neuchatel and vice president of nanomedicine at CSEM Nanomedicine, Landquart (Switzerland). He says that this conference is devoted to today’s most relevant and promising fields of electronic imaging: application-specific image sensors (using smart pixels and related approaches), high-performance real-time 3-D imaging, electronic imaging with novel materials, and single-photon, solid-state image sensing.

On the show floor

The four exhibit halls will house an incredible array of photonics components and systems and visitors can certainly expect to see many new products introduced (see figure). To name just a few, Toptica Photonics (Graefelfing, Germany) plans to introduce “a dozen innovations” at Laser including blue diode lasers and a terahertz spectroscopy kit. Interest in products for PV production will likely be high—Rofin-Sinar (Hamburg, Germany) will show its new PowerLine SL PV sources for laser scribing of PV cells and Sill Optics (Wendlestein, Germany) offers a fused silica lens system for solar cell production. High Q Laser (Bregenz, Austria) plans a new series of compact pico- and femtosecond regenerative amplifier systems aimed squarely at the industrial marketplace. In January Trumpf (Ditzingen, Germany) launched a 100 W diode-laser module that is expected to be the basis of a new industrial laser to be introduced in Munich. Taufenbach (Kiel, Germany) plans to show what it claims is the world’s smallest sealed-off CO2 laser—delivering up to 25 W from a package only 270 mm long—aimed at marking, engraving, and medical markets. And Hamamatsu (Herrsching, Germany) will exhibit, among its wide range of devices, a high-speed compact hybrid photodetector, and a thumb-size miniature spectrometer for color management.

Also on the exhibit floor, the Applications Panels comprise application-oriented presentations by an industry experts with subsequent discussion on the topic. The series offers a “mixed bag” of subjects ranging from rapid manufacturing (chaired by Wilhelm Meiners, Fraunhofer Institut Lasertechnik ILT) to new developments in solid-state laser technology (chaired jointly by Andreas Tünnermann, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering, and Friedrich Bachmann of Rofin-Sinar Laser). In a biophotonics panel chaired by Thomas Renner of Toptica Photonics, laser makers will report on their latest technological developments and the resulting advantages in biophotonics.

Herbert Walther Award

There are several other events worthy of note that take place as part of Laser, World of Photonics. A CEO Round Table will be held on June 16 to explore the industry’s future from the executive suite of several leading photonics firms; Light Insights is a series of meetings that ranges from bringing photonics to local schoolchildren to a financial analysts’ conference; and for the first time this year the Herbert Walther Award will be presented to honor contributions from the field of quantum optics and nuclear physics and leadership in the international scientific community. For this year the award will be jointly presented by the OSA and the German Physical Society (DPG). The conferee is David J. Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for his seminal contributions to quantum information physics and metrology, and the development of trapped ion techniques for applications to basic quantum phenomena, plasma physics, and optical clocks.

Members of the Laser Focus World staff will see you in Munich for a week full of photonics. Please visit us at booth B1.601.

—Stephen G. Anderson

More in Research