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Showing posts from January, 2011

MEMS in space, prostate cancer testing, origins of life: light goes exploring at Photonics West

Conference chairs have offered more suggestions on presentations to hear at SPIE Photonics West next week. The technologies and applications in the latest recommendations differ in many ways, but all share one important commonality: they all demonstrate how versatile and powerful photonics is when it comes to gathering information about matter, in environments as disparate as inside the human body and in space.

Scientists and engineers from top space organizations in Europe, Canada, and the United States will share the stage in a Tuesday evening panel discussion on MEMS for space applications. They’ll explore the advantages, challenges, and possibilities -- with reference no doubt to a joint session earlier in the day among three MOEMS-MEMS conferences with papers on possible space applications in telescopes, gyros, spectrometers, and other devices.

Among papers on research in spectroscopy are a presentation in the conference on Optical Biopsy exploring Stokes shift spectroscopy for dis…

Green energy, automobile safety, human health: a few of the topics at Photonics West

Are you headed for SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco later this month? Have you sorted out which papers you want to hear -- from among the 4,127 on the program?

If you’d like a much shorter list to consider, here are some ideas we collected from conference chairs and others who have studied the program.

While these technologies cover the full range of the four-symposium event, they are representative of all 4,000 papers in their focus on solving the challenges facing the world: They offer promise for detecting cancer in time to enable a cure, restoring vision, detecting clandestine nuclear weapons, enhancing automobile safety, improving both energy efficiency and human health with solid-state lighting, and much more.

BiOS

7885-23 “OCT-guided femtosecond laser system for cataract surgery,” Daniel Palanker (Stanford Univ. School of Medicine), et al. A new technique using a femtosecond laser to break up damaged lenses before removal can make cataract surgery easier and more precise.

7901-4…

Help design the future of photonics funding ... and make "photonics" a household word

As pervasive and vital as photonics technologies are in industry, healthcare, communications, entertainment, and elsewhere in modern life, the term “photonics” is not exactly a household word.
More to the point, it is not a term that is immediately understood in many houses of government, where decisions are made about which research, innovation, and education programs to fund and how richly to fund them.
Yet, programs benefit more when policy makers and budget writers understand the importance of the technologies and the scope of the industry.
Information about the size of the photonics industry and the influence of photonics science, in the form of comprehensive national and regional reports, has been a powerful tool for helping to communicate with governments about the importance of photonics funding.
In the past few years, reports have surveyed industry activity, market trends, and opportunities regionally in the European Union and in Asia, while additional reports focus on Canada, S…

Absent from Photonics West -- but present for babies in Vietnam

Rox Anderson, who for many years has partnered with Jim Fujimoto of MIT as Co-Chair of the Biomedical Optics Symposium at SPIE Photonics West, won’t be in San Francisco for the event later this month.
Instead, this year Rox will be in Vietnam, putting to good use his teaching skills as well as laser medicine technology developed with the contributions of SPIE members and others.
Working as the Vascular Anomalies Center, Rox and other volunteers have opened a free clinic in Vietnam. There, babies receive laser treatments for treatment of vascular birth defects -- disfiguring pigmented lesions.
By eliminating this source of physical dysfunction, social stigma, and isolation, the lives of these children have been dramatically changed. The center has treated more than 500 children since 2009.

In past years Rox has been able to schedule his job at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine and his work at the VAC so that he can also att…

Make a difference for photonics: tell your story

Have you ever tried to explain your research to a non-scientist, and how the results could make a difference in everyday life?
Ted Maiman had that challenge 50 years ago with his ruby laser. The first successful demonstration of the now-ubiquitous technology was labeled at the time as “a solution in search of a problem.”
That characterization is profoundly ironic, these days. It is a rare person indeed who can go through even part of a day without using something that is either made by, run by, or otherwise touched by laser technology.
The point is, what is obvious to the scientist may not be so to others. Being able to explain the value of research to the non-scientist may require some imagination. But it is increasingly important for the future of R&D funding. Budgets everywhere are being tightened, and competition for available money is keen.
Some non-scientists are policy makers tasked with recommending how much money to invest in research or innovation programs, and what type of …