21 August 2011

Survey says ... lasers, detectors, sensors, and imaging lead the list

The Harnessing Light 2 report aims to illustrate the strong economic impact that technologies have on the global economy, both now and in the future.

SPIE is asking the industry in an open survey to rate the importance of photonics technologies, to help inform the committee.

You can see initial results below – but what is your opinion?

Click on this link to take the survey, and share your perspectives with the Harnessing Light committee.

And remember to attend the town hall forum with members of the Harnessing Light committee tomorrow (Monday 22 August) 5:30-7 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center during SPIE Optics + Photonics -- have your say in person!
Importance of Photonics Topics
Number of responses, per technology

Technology
Important
Neutral
Not Important
Lasers, components, systems
106
65
16
Detectors, sensors
107
72
10
Cameras, imaging, image processing
103
69
16
Fiber optics, communications
85
72
30
Display
84
67
36
LED lighting
81
75
28
Optical materials
80
81
28
Optical systems, components 
79
88
21
Biomedical
72
88
28
Nanotechnologies
69
83
32
Photonics for sustainable energy, environment
57
80
49
Photo/Nanolithography
51
83
52
Organic photonics
48
87
46
Metrology
49
85
51
Microtechnologies (MEMS/MOEMS)
44
97
42
Silicon photonics
44
85
55
Spectroscopy
44
87
58
Quantum optics
28
81
74
Metamaterials
19
75
90
Plasmonics 
16
57
107




09 August 2011

Speak out for photonics and invent the future

So why should you care about a National Academies study on optics and photonics?

Besides the reality that optics and photonics has changed life for us all and has so much more to offer, the answer depends on what you are doing and hope to do in optics and photonics.

Does your future depend on decisions made at the federal, state, or market level (e.g., VCs, banks, or angel investors)?

If Congress, forced to find cuts, decided to slash Department of Energy science funding, NASA funding, National Science Foundation funding, or Department of Defense funding, would it affect you?

Would new financial or trade regulations hurt your job prospects?

Would action on solar energy or advanced lighting speed the transition to a sustainable world?

Hardworking individuals at some of the highest federal levels — Congress and the Administration chief among them — are overwhelmed with appeals for support from a plethora of interest groups, including individuals from the photonics sector on occasion. I have been with a variety of groups of scientists and engineers meeting with Congressional representatives and senators, their staff, or the staff of entities such as the House Science, Space and Technology Committee to argue for support for science and technology (S&T) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

Even with these efforts, we are regularly chastised for our lack of visibility and activity, and — for some reason —frequently contrasted with the beer industry: The two-million-plus S&T community are less visible in Congressional offices than the 60,000 or so energetic representatives of the nation’s beer distributors.

It may be abhorrent to our culture to be the squeaky wheel in political circles (engineers in particular preferring to oil the bearings). But as we look at national belt tightening, it is becoming more important to communicate our value and point out what social economic and security benefits optics and photonics has already brought, and the extraordinary impact to come.

Few of us, and fewer in Congress, ever think about the science and technology behind switching on a light. Our smartphones deliver immediate information over the photonics-powered internet on beautiful displays enabled by processors and memory manufactured by laser lithography. But the lack of appreciation of what we optical scientists and engineers have wrought is a topic for another day.

The multitasking Congressperson or Congressional aide that I hope you will soon visit already will be thinking about the torrent of interest groups flowing by throughout the day, many with very plausible and well-crafted stories. But how many will be able to make an impact with a National Academies study that backs their story, that makes the case?

The Academies were set up to give independent advice to government — a government which is made up mostly of individuals with little scientific background — and helps them see through the clutter of demands and interest groups. This is needed more than ever. National Academies studies help shape policy and help determine funding and investments.

Wise use of our more constrained resources is important to us all. Photonics science and technology should be favored, not because we love it, but because the potential for return on investment — social, financial, scientific, medical, and environmental — is quite extraordinary.

It is crucial that the study capture the contributions and future of photonics. This is a unique opportunity to help the National Academies committee with this formidable task. This is your opportunity to influence — to invent — your future.

That’s why you should care.

What can you do?

Click on this link to take the survey, and share your perspectives with the Harnessing Light committee.

And if you'll be in San Diego later this month, you can share your ideas with the committee in person.

Several members of the Harnessing Light committee will attend a town-hall style forum at SPIE Optics + Photonics in the San Diego Convention Center, 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday 22 August. The public is welcome to attend.

04 August 2011

The future of photonics: How good, how cheap, how much fair play?

The results from the first round of a survey on future challenges for the photonics industry show concerns around quality, costs, respect for intellectual property, and other issues.

The survey results will be offered as input from the community to the National Academies committee that is updating the Harnessing Light study of the photonics industry.

Survey results are posted on the SPIE website, and include a list of what respondents saw as the most important photonics technologies for the future.

Now, it’s your turn.

Click on this link to take the survey, and share your perspectives with the Harnessing Light committee.

And if you'll be in San Diego later this month, you can share your ideas with the committee in person.

Several members of the Harnessing Light committee will attend a town-hall style forum at SPIE Optics + Photonics in the San Diego Convention Center, 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday 22 August. The public is welcome to attend.

01 August 2011

What's your opinion? Photonics industry panel awaits your input



The Harnessing Light update committee is looking for input, as SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs notes in this post's video.

Some of the committee members will also be on hand for a town hall meeting during the SPIE Optics + Photonics symposium in San Diego later this month. The event will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday 22 August in the San Diego Convention Center -- see you there!

If you can't attend the San Diego town hall meeting, please post your thoughts in the comment field below, and SPIE will share them with the National Academies' committee. Thank you for doing your part to drive the future of photonics.