Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2012

Going green: Asian directions for photonics

Governments in Asia, Europe, North America, and elsewhere are finding new ways to prioritize their efforts to support optics technologies and industries and to advance their own national competitiveness and economic success. A recent article in the SPIE Professional magazine surveyed the latest developments around the world. This post shares some of the magazine's report on what is happening in Asia, where a major focus is on efficient energy. Future posts will focus on Europe and North America. Asian governments have taken varied approaches in their support of optics and photonics industries. Last year, the Chinese government announced the 12th iteration of its Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development. The plan, which runs through 2015, includes a focus on the economic value of seven “strategic emerging industries.” Recent reports have estimated that the Chinese government will spend $1.5 trillion US on subsidies in the fields of biotechnology,

Irony of eco-metamaterials

Eco-metamaterials engineered by optics and photonics researchers can lighten our environmental footprint and just may be -- ironically -- more sustainable than materials found in nature. So say Nerac analysts Rosemarie Szostak and Michael Kapralos in their article in the July 2012 issue of SPIE Professional magazine. Metamaterials combine micro or nano structural features instead of relying on composition alone to achieve the desired properties. They have sparked the imagination of the optics and photonics community with their unusual characteristics, and researchers are developing unique metamaterials for their potential as invisibility cloaks, high-efficiency photovoltaics, super-antennas, and ultrabright LEDs. Eco-metamaterials may not yet be "green" based on their composition. However, the reduced quantities of materials, especially toxic ones, used in their development and metamaterials’ inherent potential for exotic properties allow technologists to imp

Astronomy: the ‘gateway’ field of optics and photonics

There are many good reasons to help the next generation become interested in science. They are the future, after all; the authors and architects of whatever progress and solutions the human race will attain during their time on the planet. To meet that challenge, they will need the best knowledge and tools available. Plus … understanding how the world works is not only useful, but fun. One of the most accessible pathways to an interest in science is astronomy. Speakers at the recent gathering in Amsterdam of the world’s astronomical telescopes and instrumentation community were very persuasive on that point, starting with the very first talk. “The tangible mystery of space” has inspired humankind from our earliest times, noted Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in the event’s opening plenary session. "High-profile astronomy missions inspire kids in elementary school to become the scientists of the future,” she asserted

Biophotonics: Solutions for world's health needs

(SPIE Member Jijo Ulahannan , assistant professor at Government College Kasaragod in India, attended the biophotonics and imaging graduate summer school earlier this month at the National University of Ireland [NUI] Galway. Speakers composed a “who’s who” list of many of the top names in the field. Now back at home, Jijo filed this guest blog based on his notes.) A week of high-end motivation, face-to-face interaction with challenging problems of the field, infused with the serene beauty of Irish countryside and the fun and excitement of Euro 2012: that’s the best way to summarize the recently concluded Biophotonics and Imaging Graduate Summer School (BIGSS) 2012 . The school was attended by 22 researchers from all over the world and included highly motivating talks, technical presentations, live demonstrations and a highly competitive poster session. The summer school began on a fine sunny evening with a welcome party hosted by Professor Martin Leahy who heads the National