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SPIE Optics + Photonics 2017 news and photos

See the week's news and highlights here — browse below for daily updates.

Did we take your picture? Check out the photo galleries for more:

Social and Member Events
Student Events
Poster Sessions


What a great week in San Diego!

SPIE Optics + Photonics exhibition

More than 160 companies sent representatives to showcase the newest products, latest innovations,
and cutting-edge technologies in the Optics + Photonics exhibition Tuesday through Thursday.
See more photos in the exhibition gallery:

What a week! Attendance, the number of papers, and the number of exhibitors were all up over last year's SPIE Optics + Photonics, and energy in the conference rooms and on the exhibition floor was high. Exhibitors reported finding many buyers among visitors to their booths, and a new beer-and-pretzel reception on the closing day provided an additional bump.

Read a sampling of technical papers and highlights from the week's many events below; also see the additional photo galleries for more.

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2018 will run 19–23 August — see you back in San Diego next year!


Students first: Becoming an effective leader

2017 SPIE Student Chapter leaders in San Diego

2017 SPIE Student Chapter leaders gather in San Diego

Nearly 250 SPIE student chapter leaders from around the world gathered at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina to kick off SPIE Optics + Photonics.

During the highly interactive, all-day event facilitated by Jean-luc Doumont (Louvain and Stanford), students discussed what being a leader is all about (and what it is not about), how to communicate across cultures, and how to go from ideas to achievements.

Teams formed to brainstorm what leadership means, drew their ideas on paper, and presented in front of the group.

Lunch was served on the terrace under the warm California sunshine.

Optics + Photonics Student Chapter Leadership Workshop Optics + Photonics Student Chapter Leadership Workshop
Optics + Photonics Student Chapter Leadership Workshop Optics + Photonics Student Chapter Leadership Workshop


Revealing the hidden figures

Hidden Figures discussion

A showing Saturday evening of the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Hidden Figures prompted a wide-ranging discussion among SPIE President-Elect Maryellen Giger (at far right) and students who gathered to see the film.

The movie portrays the story of three African-American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s as human “computers,” playing vital roles in the first American mission that successfully sent — and returned — a manned spaceship into orbit around the Earth. Contributions of the three remained in relative obscurity until publication last year of Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, and the release of the movie.

Giger said she found the story inspiring because of the way the women overcame discrimination and other obstacles. “If you want to go into science, you shouldn’t be held back,” she said.

The fact that the story remained little known for so long was another matter, she said. “This is something that should have been in the history books and wasn’t. What else is missing?”


Palm trees, blue skies — and the latest in optics and photonics

San Diego view

The view from the San Diego Marriott Marquis Hotel is
unmistakable, for returnees to SPIE Optics + Photonics.

Conferences and courses began Sunday in the convention center and Marriott Hotel; outside, visitors enjoyed the warm, sunny weather characteristic of San Diego.

Courses seeing strong attendance on Sunday included Wavefront Data Analsis by Virendra Mahajan (College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona), at left, and Introduction to Optical Design by Daniel Vukobratovich (Raytheon Missle Systems), at right.

Virendra Mahajan

Virendra Mahajan
Daniel Vukobratovich

Daniel Vukobratovich


Compact x-ray sources for research tools

Nanophotonics offers unlimited opportunities for researchers to explore light-matter interactions at the subwavelength scale. In a keynote presentation Sunday morning in the conference on Active Photonics Platforms (10345-1), Marin Soliačić of MIT described his group’s research on plasmon-based free electron x-ray light sources.

Extreme-ultraviolet and x-ray radiation act as powerful research and diagnostic tools in medicine, engineering, and the natural sciences. In order to meet the quest for ultracompact photonic integrated systems and nanoscale light sources, Soliačić’s group proposed the concept of small-footprint x-ray generation based on electron interactions with graphene plasmons.

A focused laser light is used to excite the graphene plasmons, either through a grating coupler placed on top of the graphene, or directly patterning the graphene into nanoribbons. When electrons are launched parallel to the graphene sheet, their interactions with the high-momentum plasmons lead to a directional short-wavelength radiation (x ray). By changing the kinetic energies of the injected electrons, the spectrum of the generated x ray can be readily tuned.

The technique uses relatively low-energy electrons and compact set-ups which outperform conventional methods.


New methods for computational 3D microscopy

Laura Waller, SPIE Optics + Photonics

Laura Waller

Laura Waller of the University of California, Berkeley, gave an invited talk Sunday morning on 3D microscopy with scattering media (10347-10), in the conference on Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation. She described new methods that use simple hardware modifications combined with efficient computational algorithms.


Metasurfaces for better terahertz quantum cascade lasers

Among the latest breakthroughs being shared at this year’s conference on Terahertz Emitters, Receivers, and Applications is work presented Sunday morning (10383-5) by Luyao Xu from Benjamin Williams’ group (University of California, Los Angeles). She reported on work on terahertz (THz) metasurface quantum cascade vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting-lasers (QC-VECSELs) providing a viable solution for making compact THz sources with both high output power and excellent beam quality.

In addition, she said, by engineering the local response of individual antennas inside the metasurface, numerous new functionalities can be multiplexed in a single device.

THz plays various roles in biology, material science, telecommunication, and national security, as the THz QC laser serves as a compact semiconductor source capable of generating high output power. However, one of the current challenges is how to combine high-power output and high-quality beam pattern in a single device.

To solve this limitation, Xu and her colleagues developed active-metasurface-based QC-VECSELs. Their metasurface consists of arrays of metal-metal micro-cavity antennas that are loaded with gain medium. Each antenna efficiently couples in THz radiation, amplifies it, and re-radiates into the free space.

With this configuration, they demonstrated the first QC-VECSEL lasing using a plano-concave cavity in 2015. Subsequently they further improved the beam quality and device stability by using a self-focusing metasurface with inhomogeneous antennas. Most recently, by replying on a polarization-sensitive metasurface, they achieved electrically controlled polarization switching in a QC-VECSEL.


Technologies for now and the future

SPIE Optics + Photonics audience

Technology Hot Topics talks drew an attentive audience on the first of the week's presentations.

The new Technology Hot Topics session filled the plenary room for five brief talks on some of the latest optics and photonics technologies changing today's world.

"It's a great time to enter the field," asserted Cesare Soci (Nanyang Technoloigcal University) in the opening talk in the session on "How Optics and Photonics Drive Innovation."

Soci, chair of the new Quantum Photonic Devices conference, proved his point with an overview of topics from the conference, and a description of the many potential applications for the technology.

Next up, Nanshu Lu (University of Texas at Austin) talked about bioelectronics in wearables and implantables, describing how graphene electronic tattoo sensors are helping to change healthcare. The tattoos are also expected to lower costs by being produced via subtractive manufacturing.

Scott McEldowney (Oculus Research, described the major optics challenges — such as offering a 140-degree field of vision — in creating the next generation of virtual and augmented reality.

"The world is a light show," he said. "Every object reflects light to us. We are primarily visual creatures, and how we deliver the photons to the retina is crucial."

Tanja Cuk (University of California, Berkeley) described work in artificial photosynthesis. Her group is investigating several spectroscopic tools in its efforts to create renewable fuels from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide in the lab.

Charles Edwards (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) gave an illustrated account of the independent-minded Curiosity lander, now celebrating five years of driving safely in the rough terrain of Mars, arguing that the autonomy of the rover was essential to its success.

Read more in the coverage:; watch for an alert from SPIE on publication of the recorded talks.

Cesare Soci, SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Cesare Soci
Nanshu Lu, SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Nanshu Lu
Scott McEldowney, SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Scott McEldowney
Tanja Cuk, SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Tanja Cuk
Charles Edwards, SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Charles Edwards
SPIE Optics + Photonics Technology Hot Topics

Post-talk follow-up


Impressive! Optics Outreach Games showcase Student Chapter projects

SPIE Optics Outreach Games 2017

SPIE President-Elect Maryellen Giger (center, at the demonstration by the
Middle East Technical Chapter) was among those enjoying the Optics Outreach Games.

Elegant, ingenious, and fun SPIE Student Chapter outreach projects were evaluated by judges and enjoyed by all, in an evening capped by recognition of three top entries selected by judges and a people's choice award. Winners were:

  • First place — University of Exeter, Homemade CD-DVD Spectrometer. Team member Erick Parra developed the demonstration, creating the kit from scratch including an instruction sheet on using heavy paper or cardboard with an old CD to be able to see the spectra of various things.
  • Second place — Techno India, Vista: Explore the Cinematic Evolution. The three-part experiment amalgamates art and science, explaining how eyes work, the concept of persistence of vision, virtual reality, microscopy, and more.
  • Third place — Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica Óptica y Electrónica, What a Colorful World. Basic concepts of color are introduced, starting with the composition of white light and explaining additive and subtractive primary colors through light and filters.
  • People's Choice — University of Trento, Magic Water. Physical laws of light reflection and absorption, the idea of critical angle, and internal reflection in water are introduced, in experiments that may be replicated without special equipment.

SPIE President Glenn Boreman congratulated winners (below).

SPIE Optics Outreach Games 2017

Jake Mehew and Erick Burgos Parra;
University of Exeter
SPIE Optics Outreach Games 2017

Amit Kumar Jha, Debasmita Banerjee ,and
Alvin Karkun; Techno India
SPIE Optics Outreach Games 2017

Antonio Olivares-Vargas, Cruz Perez,
and Juan Vazquez Lozano; INAOE
SPIE Optics Outreach Games 2017

Claudio Castellan and Tatevik Chalyan:
University of Trento


Early hour for early-career networking

Early career networking breakfast

Networking was the day's first item of business Monday morning for early career professionals;
above, Immediate Past President Bob Lieberman welcome attendees at the breakfast.


3D printing at the nanoscale: Martin Wegener plenary talk

Martin Wegener

Martin Wegener

Already, 3D printing is found in numerous applications ranging from making cool toys to printing implant parts for medical surgeries. Importantly for researchers and engineers, it is an enabling tool for nanotechnology as well.

In a plenary talk Monday morning on 3D Laser Nanolithography, Martin Wegener (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) gave an overview on the development of 3D nanoscale laser printing and its various applications. Wegener is also a cofounder of NanoScribe GmbH, which manufactures commercial 3D laser nanolithography tools.

3D laser nanolithography employs a focused femtosecond laser pulse to selectively expose a photoresist. The tightly focused light induces polymerization and cross-linking of the resist through multiple photon absorption. Due to this such a nonlinear process, only a tiny portion of resist in the focused area gets cross-linked (i.e., "printed"), when the laser energy is beyond a certain threshold. The resist in "below-threshold" areas can then be washed away.

Wegener's group has been using this technology to fabricate 3D optical and mechanical metamaterials with complex geometries, developed a method to do "subtractive printing" by selectively dissolving a certain part of their printed features. His group currently is working on three challenges: faster printing speed, multiple material capability, and finer feature size. His group also Recent applications demonstrated by the group are invisible metal contacts for silicon solar cells based on printed free-form optical surfaces 3D micro-scaffolds for controllable cell culture 3D fluorescent security features


Light manipulation at the atomic scale using 2D plasmons: García de Abajo plenary talk

Javier Garcia de Abajo

Javier García de Abajo

Controlling light at the nanoscale has numerous applications, in optical lithography, particle trapping, photovoltaics, cancer therapy, single-molecule sensing, etc. However, the focusing spot of a light beam is governed by the so-called "diffraction limit," which is roughly half the wavelength of light.

In order to move around such a limitation, researchers have been using plasmons to achieve light concentration at the deep sub-wavelength scale and increase the intensity of local electrical field by orders of magnitude.

In a Monday morning plenary talk, Javier García de Abajo (ICFO-Institute de Ciencies Fotoniques) described the new physics and applications enabled by 2D plasmons in atomically thin materials. Plasmon is a particular form of polariton, a collective oscillation of polarization charges in matter. Researchers are able to engineer the polaritons based on specific needs, through stacking, hybridizing, nanostructuring, or externally controlling them. This has opened up numerous applications in sensing, optical communication, nonlinear optics, and quantum computation.

Abajo's group has been able to tune properties of graphene plasmons by either applying a gating voltage, or using electrostatic doping. Together with other researchers, they have demonstrated several devices including optical modulators, super absorbers, random lasers, mid-IR sensors, and high-harmonic generators, and investigated the transient dynamics of graphene plasmon excitation and observed ultrafast radiative transfer in graphene disks.

Abajo noted future exciting opportunities in molecular plasmons and single-atom-layer metallic plasmons.


Applications for 2D flexible and emerging devices: Deji Akinwande plenary talk

Deji Akinwande

Deji Akinwande

In his plenary talk Monday morning, Deji Akinwande (University of Texas at Austin) discussed the scientific progress, engineering achievements, and commercialization of flexible/printable atomically thin materials and devices. He highlighted new applications such as wearable sensors and human interfaces; 2D memory effect and atomic tunneling; and some recent directions in R&D.

Akinwande described 2D-layered nanomaterials as having a layered structure with anisotropic bonding — meaning they have a strong in-plane (covalent) bonding and weak out-of-plane (van der Waals) bonding. Examples include graphite, graphene, molybdenite, and phosphorene. These layered materials are inspired by nature in that they are honeycombed in design and offer high mobility.

Giving a brief timeline of research in 2D electron devices, Akinwande noted that silicene and other materials have emerged as promising materials for topological insulators and that topology was subject of the Nobel Prize in physics last year.

“We’ve gone beyond building blocks of transistors to actually making circuits on flexible substrates” said Akinwande. One driver is graphene, as it offers the highest mobilities for thin film transistors and has fewer strain limits.

“The goal is that 2D materials will be the new silicon,” he added. ”Silicon is everywhere in every technology and industry, so this is the aspiration we have for 2D materials, but it’s too early to say.”


Still cutting-edge at 40: Digital Image Processing conference celebrates

Andrew Tescher, Applications of Digital Image Processing

Andrew Tescher

Citing milestones in video, image compression, virtual reality, plenoptics, 360 video, and other technologies, chair Andrew Tescher and colleagues celebrated Monday morning the 40th year for the conference on Applications of Digital Image Processing.

Tescher, who served as President of SPIE in 1981, noted that the "XL" in this year's conference title does not refer only to the series year, but also to "extra large." With approximately 120 papers this year, the conference is one of the largest as well as one of the longest running presented by SPIE.

"It refuses to die," Tescher quipped.

Longevity is related to relevance as well, he said, as new topics continue to evolve in the conference,  many of which are really new here before they show up somewhere else.

Monday afternoon was no exception. Sessions covered Future Video, with industry speakers from Intel, Samsung, GoPro, Google, Microsoft, Huawei, BBC, Dolby, and Brightcove along with academicians from Asia, Europe, and North America.

Gary Sullivan of Microsoft presented Tescher with an award to commemorate his 40 years of chairing the conference.


Making connections

SPIE Optics + Photonics

Coffee breaks are an ideal time to connect with colleagues old and new.


OLEDS: the Pacmen eating the displays market

In Monday morning's keynote in the Organic Light-Emitting Materials and Displays conference, Stephen Forrest of the University of Michigan began by saying how excited he always is to talk about OLEDs, because they are the Pacmen eating the displays market (10362-20). They are seen everywhere and are rapidly advancing in traditional displays, flexible displays, and lighting.

However, there remain a number of key challenges with blue OLEDs.

Besides the difficulties in fabrication, getting a workable blue lifetime has been difficult. With phosphorescent OLEDs (PHOLEDs), red and green last for hundreds of thousands of hours (900K and 400K, respectively), while the blue has a pittance — under 100 hours. Blue is better in the fluorescent (FOLEDs) at about 11,000 hours, but red and green FOLEDs take an appreciable hit. So the blue lifetime remains a complex issue to solve.

Forrest showed ways that his lab is extending the lifetime of blue PHOLEDs, with recent results giving a 10-fold improvement in lifetime. These experiments suggest that much longer lifetimes, even for very deep blue emitting PHOLEDs, are possible particularly if hot-excited-state managers are used as a means of lifetime extension.

He closed by asserting that OLEDs will dominate the display and lighting markets because the large-area, ultra-efficient, color-tunable, architecturally adaptable form factor is simply too good of an opportunity to miss.  However, the challenges of getting a 100x increase in blue lifetime, developing of means for getting the light out, and advances in patterning for display fabrication will drive the research in the near-term.


Transistors in biosensing

Piero Cosseddu of the Università degli Studi di Cagliari presented Monday morning in the conference on Organic Sensors and Bioelectronics on the uses of transistors in biosensing (10364-19).

He began with an explanation of the benefits of using OFETs as sensors: There are many different sensing areas that can be used for sensing, and with organic sensors, a large number of mechanisms can be employed.

Cosseddu explained that there are many examples of transistors in sensing already, such as electrolyte-gated organic field-effect transistors  (EGOFETs), organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs), organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs), and organic charge-modulated FETs (OCMFETs) — the focus of his talk.

Before turning to OCMFETs, he noted that biosensors need to be portable (that is, low power consuming), low voltage to allow reliable measurement on biomolecules, fast enough to resolve the action potential of cells, and robust to environmental conditions.

He showed that OCMFETs can be routinely fabricated on highly flexible, ultraconformable thin films and used for monitoring pH variations featuring a super-Nernstian sensitivity. He then showed that they can be applied for monitoring cell metabolic activity and electrical activity of excitable cells.

Cosseddu concluded that COMFETs act as a referenceless versatile tool for electrophysiological measurements, which has been fully validated with rat cardiomyocytes. They have the possibility of multisensing and becoming ultraconformable biocompatible sensing platforms for in-vivo measurements, and they have the potential for use in artificial skin as well.


Congratulations ... and smile!

Newport Travel Grant winners

Winners of Newport Travel Grants awarded Monday afternoon took advantage
of presenter Jim Fisher's offer to take a selfie in front of an applauding crowd.
See photos of grant winners in the Student and Member Events photo gallery.


Limitations and potential for high-power 4G optics

Nelson Tabiryan

Nelson Tabiryan

In an opening afternoon keynote in the Liquid Crystals conference, Nelson Tabiryan of BEAM Engineering For Advanced Measurements presented on high-power 4G optics, demonstrating that it is the fundamental features of light propagation in complex anisotropic structures that limit the optical power of diffractive waveplate structures, rather than the complications of fabrication (10361-30).

He discussed the opportunities in increasing optical power of 4G lenses, prisms, etc. without compromising efficiency. Tabiryan presented that polarization Bragg gratings and polymer-liquid-crystal-polymer systems complement capabilities of diffractive waveplate technology for high-power, high-efficiency diffractive optics.

In addition, he demonstrated that thin-film polarization-independent diffractive optics is feasible and showed reflective and transmissive high-efficiency systems. He concluded by showing that single-step Bragg-type polarization grating recording techniques are practical for most wavelengths.


DragonflEye: dragonfly carrying a backpack

In the Biosensing and Nanomedicine conference Monday afternoon, Joe Register (Draper Lab) presented the latest progress on their DragonflEye program (10352-19), whereby a living dragonfly carries a small backpack of electronics, sensors, and solar cells. The project is a collaboration between Draper and Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Janelia Research Campus.

Current micro-robot technology is constrained by excessive energy consumption, limited travel range, and weak flight control. To overcome these limitations, researchers are turning to flying insects equipped with control modules using optical neuromodulation to navigate their flights.

The Draper researchers choose dragonflies, which are very strong flyers. They can carry up to 1/3 of their body weight (~300 mg), and fly as much as 100 km per day with inherent stability. In addition, dragonflies live near ly everywhere in the world, making their technology readily being used globally in the future.

Draper researchers use optrodes to inject steering commands directly into the nervous system. Their navigational system uses an "origami" approach, integrating several units (power, light source, tracking, and wireless data) into an insect-scale backpack weighting about 200 mg. This backpack interfaces directly with the dragonfly's nervous system, and uses tiny solar cells to power itself.


History — and future — of photovoltaics: Charles Gay plenary talk

Charles Gay

Charles Gay

The future of the U.S. photovoltaics industry is brighter than ever, asserted Charles Gay of the U.S. Department of Energy in a plenary talk Monday afternoon. However, he urged flexible and more profitable distribution, which he dubbed the “Uberization of PV.”

“The momentum is unstoppable,” Gay said. “It’s only going to get better.”

Gay noted that the U.S. now has about the same volume of installed PV power as Germany. Both countries have deployed around 36 GW so far.

But he cautioned that there are roadblocks, the main one being integration of solar generation into the wider U.S. grid. Resistance, he said, grows out of old doubts about resilience of solar. That resilience has been proved by PV systems in Utah that have been at work for 40 years, he pointed out, with Sandia National Laboratories monitoring them.

Gay pointed out that in Hawaii, the U.S. state with the largest deployment of PV per capita, customers send back information via fiber-optic cables that lets the grid make use of the power when it will have the most benefit. Commercial buildings also work with providers to offer more flexibility in the load, using high-speed communications.

“If we Uberize the grid, we can make smarter use of existing assets,” he added. “That is where the greatest growth potential exists.”

Read more about Gay’s talk in the article:


Photovoltaics moving into the terawatt age: Eicke Weber plenary talk

Eicke Weber

Eicke Weber

In the last few years, PV electricity has become cost-competitive with electricity produced by conventional sources, noted Eicke Weber, Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore and University of California, Berkeley, in his plenary talk Monday afternoon.

Global PV production capacity will double within the next five years to 100-120 GWp/a, bringing PV installations into the terawatt range. A key factor for this growth will be continuous technology advances aimed at higher efficiencies at reduced cost.

In addition, cell efficiency will be even more important than lowest cost, to optimize energy harvest from a given area. Crystalline silicon technology currently represents 90% of the global PV market. This technology is approaching a ceiling of 29% efficiency for a single-bandgap semiconductor.

Weber discussed new approaches for higher efficiencies requiring heterojunctions, including heterojunctions on silicon, allowing to combine well-established large-scale silicon PV technology with new technologies, such as low-cost III/V or Perovskite layers.


Bankability of novel energy technologies: Ralph Romero plenary talk

Ralph Romero

Ralph Romero

New technologies are helping energy system owners improve performance and service to their customers while creating a sustainable energy future, said Ralph Romero of Black & Veatch in a plenary talk Monday afternoon. But many of these new tools and processes are unproven and costly, which may hinder their large scale deployment.

Romero addressed the topic of new technology bankability and how owners, technology providers, and financial institutions assess their risk exposure before embarking on significant projects. He focused on lessons learned from the rapid growth of the photovoltaic industry and discussed areas where technology risk should be further reduced.


Enabling future space missions: NASA panel discussion

Large-aperture telescopes and robotics will provide solutions to some of the challenges of the most ambitious of future space missions, concurred panelists convened Monday afternoon in the conference on (10401).

Moderated by Harley Thronson NASA, the panel comprised John Grunsfeld (NASA), Carol Grunsfeld, Matthew Greenhouse, and Bradley Peterson of NASA, and Rudranarayan Mukherjee and Nicholas Siegler of the Jet Propulsion Lab.

Thronson noted challenges NASA currently faces, including service of spacecraft to extend their lifetime and assembly of large spacecraft which cannot be automatically deployed any more. These require advances in cost reduction, scientific instrument technology, and space robotics.

In his remarks, John Grunsfeld emphasized the significance of large-aperture telescopes in the exploration of the universe and search for life in the cosmos.

Carol Grunsfeld and Peterson explained the current development of satellite and telescope servicing. This technology has already become science fact (no longer science fiction), and plays an important role in reducing the cost and promoting operational efficiencies of spacecraft.

Mukherjee presented on employing robots for the assembly of large structures.

Siegler discussed Starshade, considered an initial candidate in the space assembly mission. He commented on various solutions for its in-space assembly, including in-space manufacturing, fixed/mobile assembly robotics, and free-flying servicer, as well as astronaut support.

Panelists and audience members also discussed diverse topics including the Mars exploration project, robustness and technical challenges of current solutions, regulating policies for these techniques, and career suggestions for students interested in astronomy.


Neural interfaces inspired by cephalopods

An invited paper Monday afternoon in the conference on Bio-Inspired Materials and Systems highlighted work of the Alon Gorodetsky Group for Biomolecular Electronics at University of California, Irvine (10352-24).

Nobel-prize winning work of Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley provided an overall understanding of neural signaling, neuronal processes, and how they function, via study of the squid giant axon. As a comparative model organism, the speaker noted, "cephalopods have the most advanced central nervous system of all invertebrates."

Gorodetsky's lab is exploring properties of structural proteins known as reflectins, which play crucial roles in the functionality of cephalopod skin. This protein allows cephalopods to camouflage themselves quickly.

Cephalopods' skin is highly innervated with nerves that interact with the skin itself. When stimulated by light, these cells react naturally without the cephalopod actually observing the light with its eyes, allowing the camouflage action to occur much faster.


Challenges at mid-career: Women in Optics

Women in Optics panel

Mid-career challenges, from starting a family to job transitions, were discussed by the
Women in Optics panel in a well-attended session Monday evening. From left are
Eva Campo, Pernille Pedersen, Julie Bentley, and Julia Craven (with daughter!).

Monday afternoon's SPIE Women in Optics panel discussion focused attention on role models, gender equity in the workplace, and helping women overcome mid-career obstacles such as juggling family and work responsibilities.

Katie Schwertz, an optical research engineer at Edmund Optics, moderated the panel discussion featuring Julia Craven of Sandia National Labs and head of the SPIE Gender Equity Task Force, Eva Campo of the U.S. National Science Foundation, Pernille Pedersen of Brown University, and SPIE Board Member Julie Bentley of the University of Rochester.

Craven invited the audience to take several copies of the latest SPIE Gender Equity in the Optics and Photonics Workplace report to share with friends. The report is online at


Honoring a pioneer in optical trapping

Gabriel Spaulding, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Monika Ritsch-Marte, Kishan Dholakia

From left, Gabriel Spalding, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Monika Ritsch-Marte, Kishan Dholakia

Monika Ritsch-Marte of Innsbruck Medical University was honored Tuesday morning in a special session in the conference on Optical Trapping and Optical Manipulation chaired by Kishan Dholakia (University of St. Andrews) and Gabriel Spalding (Illinois Wesleyan University). Ritsch-Marte has pioneered a number of methods of the use of spatial light modulators in microscopy and optical trapping, establishing techniques that include spiral phase contrast, wide-field CARS imaging, and trapping of motile micro-organisms, noted SPIE Board of Directors member Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop (University of Queensland) in the opening paper of the session.

Originally a theoretical quantum physicist, Ritsch-Marte changed fields to experimental biological optics. Among her achievements, she has pioneered the use of spatial light modulators (SLM) in optical microscopy for several modes of imaging such as dark field, phase contrast etc and developed new methods for aberration correction and pioneered efficient wide-field CARS imaging.


Transparent conductive oxide for nonlinear and ultrafast optics

In Tuesday morning opening keynote of the ‘Active Photonic Platform' conference (10345-33), Vladimir Shalaev from Purdue University presented his group's recent work of using transparent conductive oxide (TCO) for nonlinear generation and ultrafast modulation.

TCO can be considered as a metallic semiconductor by its large free-carrier density. By either doping or optical pumping, researchers are able to tune its carrier concentration and modify the optical properties.

The TCO on which Shalaev's group focused was aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO). Using several time-resolved pump-probe techniques, they observed large and sub-picosecond nonlinear generations for both inter- and intra-band absorptions. They combined these two independent effects and demonstrated simultaneous nonlinearities with a THz modulation bandwidth.

They further found that such a nonlinear response can be greatly enhanced by setting the device to work at its epsilon-near-zero point, and demonstrated light-induced refractive index change (Kerr effect) on the order of unity. Their study shows the great potentials of AZO for nonlinear and ultrafast optics.


Towards chip-scale integration of electronics and photonics: Larry Dalton plenary talk

Larry Dalton

Larry Dalton

Chip-scale integration of electronic and photonic elements is crucial for next-generation defense information technology. In the Tuesday morning plenary session, Larry Dalton (University of Washington) reviewed its challenges, solutions, and future perspectives.

Although such an on-chip integration technology has appealing advantages, it is not yet fully achieved.

Dalton noted that significant progress has been made toward targeted performance parameters, enabled by both improved organic electro-optic materials and novel device architectures.

Multiscale theories have been utilized to quantitatively simulate the physical properties of new materials and evaluate their performance in nanoscale devices. These theories include quantum mechanical calculation, coarse-grained Monte Carlo simulation, and molecular dynamic statistics.

At the same time, new device architectures have been implemented, such as silicon-organic-hybrid and plasmonic-organic-hybrid.
With these efforts, record-high parameters (e.g, driving voltage, footprint, bandwidth, energy efficiency) have been demonstrated. Future goals include to further increase the in-device electro-optic activity, to explore interfacial issues and surface modifications, as well as to optimize new processing techniques.`


Lasers for planetary defense

Tuesday morning's session on laser applications for planetary defense and exploration, chaired by Ronald Pirich of Northrop Grumman, took attendees from near-Earth orbit to deep space.

Qicheng Zhang

Qicheng Zhang
Amber Sucich

Amber Sucich
Tomas Snyder

Tomas Synder

First up, Qicheng Zhang (CalTech) presenting on behalf of Jessie Su (University of California, Santa Barbara) on recent progress on directed energy strategies for planetary defense and space exploration (10401-2). The lab received global publicity following the explosion of the Chelyabinsk Meteor over Siberia in 2013.

Zhang showed how rocky inner planets flow through a minefield of meteors in the inner solar system. Through the UCSB program for planetary defense (called the Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, or DE-STAR), an Earth-based or near-Earth laser can direct a high-energy beam to ablate and deflect near-Earth meteors, Zhang asserted.

Theory states that a few hundred micro-Newtons per Watt of thrust would be needed. The lab has produced thrust numbers close to that using plain basalt as the stand-in for asteroid material, but residual pressure in the vacuum chamber has remained a challenge.

(Brashears et al. published the lab measurements in the SPIE Optics and Photonics Proceedings in 2015 and 2016.)

To improve on the simulations, they have acquired samples of asteroid simulant, and are improving the vacuum chamber. The team is also planning future experiments to see if the process could be used for other applications, such as ISS trash disposal.

Zhang then presented his own talk (10401-2) on comet-impact risk mitigation with Earth-based laser arrays. It is believed that the majority of large impactors over 1 km in diameter have caused mass extinctions on Earth.

Zhang showed images of a long-period comet followed by a coronagraph image of the ISON comet as it curved around the sun and turned to dust.

The question is, could we reproduce this kind of comet destruction?

Zhang said the comet wouldn't need to be destroyed completely, just deflected away from Earth. We can't rely on the sun to do it, he said, so we need "Sun 2.0" — a laser array to heat the comet just as the sun would.

The team modeled deflecting from two years before the comet would reach Earth, with the laser active 10 minutes per day. The array is more effective for comets coming from behind Earth, but it would be important to take into account where on Earth the array is, as southern locations wouldn't be useful for comets in the northern sky and vice versa.

Ideally, a full network of arrays spaced in various latitudes would be deployed, possibly repurposing arrays proposed for spacecraft propulsion.

Amber Sucich and Tomas Snyder of Cal Poly then presented on their models for propelling a wafer-scale spacecraft that could be used as interstellar probes (10401-6). They plan to gain propulsion by focusing a directed-energy beam onto the spacecraft's sail.

Using a Rayleigh-Sommerfeld approach, they approximated intensity distributions for lengths close to and including the aperture. They are looking at both a ground-based and Earth-orbit array of phase-locked lasers, and will soon be incorporating prototypes of the spacecraft and laser array themselves.


Into the storm: Doppler wind LiDAR

In an early afternoon session Tuesday, Robert Atlas of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented on applying Doppler wind LiDAR observations to predicting and analyzing hurricanes (10406-8).

After an overview of previous Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs), Atlas detailed the current complementary study, in which data was taken from an airborne Doppler wind LiDAR (DWL) flown into Tropical Storm Erika in 2015, Tropical Storm and Hurricane Earl in 2016, and Tropical Storm Javier in 2016 by NOAA's P3 Orion aircraft.

The DWL provided unique observations of the tropical cyclone boundary layer with data coverage beyond any type of available instruments. Atlas concluded that this data should be useful for tropical cyclone model physics improvement and improved prediction.

He said further 2017 studies will target high wind areas of cyclones for validation, and will target upper-level winds in the outflow region.


Molecular plasmonics: Naomi Halas plenary talk

Naomi Halas

Naomi Halas

While graphene plasmonics has been well-studied in the IR, shifting the plasmon resonance of graphene to the visible region of the spectrum would require extremely small graphene structures with dimensions smaller than can be fabricated by the best currently available top-down fabrication methods.

In a Tuesday plenary talk, Naomi Halas (Rice University) discussed taking plasmons down to the sub-nanometer scale — to the scale of molecules. Halas is a pioneering researcher in plasmonics, having created the concept of the "tunable plasmon."

Halas noted that graphene has become a popular substance in the field of plasmonics, as it can support surface plasmons and in its extended state can have plasmon waves.

"Because it's a pore metal, one can change the carrier density rather easily by adding or removing charge either chemically or by applying voltage, so one can modify the plasmon resonance of a material like graphene," she explained.

Halas also covered working with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules -- the picoscale versions of graphene -- which show outstanding potential as low-voltage electrochromic media for color-changing walls or windows. Possible applications of molecular plasmons include large-area, low-voltage optical devices such as windows, walls, vehicles, or wearables.


Outstanding student papers in Organic Photonics and Electronics

Organics best student papers

Jen Lowell of SPIE congratulates
Armin Heinrichsdober
(photo courtesy Benjamin Schulz).

Organics best student papers

Symposium chair Zakya Kafafi
(Lehigh University)
congratulates Jared Price.

Best Student Paper Award winners were announced before the coffee break during the Organic Photonics and Electronics plenary session Tuesday morning.

First place went to Armin Heinrichsdobler (OSRAM OLED GmbH and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) for "Inkjet-printed polymer-based scattering layers for enhanced light out coupling from top-emitting organic light-emitting diodes" (10362-81). Other authors were Manuel Engelmayer, Daniel Riedel, Christoph Brabec, and Thomas Wehlus.

Second place was awarded to Jared Price (Pennsylvania State University), for "High thermal stability OLEDs" (10362-69). Other authors were Baomin Wang, Yufei Shen, and Noel Giebink.

Third place was awarded to Minwoo Nam (Kyung Hee University) for "Multicolored luminescent configuration with versatile nanopatterns for advanced photovoltaics" (9945-18). Other authors were Jaehong Yoo and Doo-Hyun Ko.

Award sponsors are Kolon Industries, Inc., and RISE (Research Institute for Solar and Sustainable Energies) in GIST.


Job possibilities and virtual reality in the Job Fair

SPIE Career Center Job Fair

More than 20 companies sent representatives in the SPIE Career Center Job Fair to talk about jobs
and meet potential new hires. Oculus also offered hands-on demonstration of some of its new
technology; above, an exhibition visitor Tuesday afternoon tries a game set on a high-speed train.
See more photos in the exhibition gallery:


Halide Perovskite photovoltaics: Nam-Gyu Park plenary talk

Nam-Gyu Park

Nam-Gyu Park

In his plenary talk Tuesday morning, Nam-Gyu Park (Sungkyunkwan University) reported on progress since the first report on the solid-state perovskite solar cell with power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 9.7% in 2012 by his group, noting that certified PCE now reaches 22%.

Perovskite solar cell technology is promising for next-generation photovoltaics (PVs) due to superb performance and very low cost, Park noted.

He gave an overview of the history of Perovskite photovoltaics and discussed methodologies to achieve hysteresis-free, stable and high PCE perovskite solar cells.


Design ‘green' for the third-generation PV world — and new markets: Michael Grätzel plenary talk

Michael Grätzel

Michael Grätzel

Michael Grätzel, director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, made a forceful case in his Tuesday plenary talk for designing green products using a new generation of photovoltaics called mesoscopic light-absorbing materials, with particles whose size is between nanometer and micrometer.

Mesoscopic particles display both quantum and macroscopic phenomena, and offer a new paradigm for very efficient solar light harvesting with low cost and high efficiency. Some have located mesoscopic physics as the interface between "the quantum domain and the everyday world," Grätzel said.

He showed items such as a solar backpack and portable electronic charging devices, all industry-produced devices, including a "green fence" on a street in Lausanne that can charge up a solar-powered electric car, and an e-reader with an "eternal-power" battery.

"What you have seen is mesoscopic photovoltaics and how they have generated new markets," he said.

See more in the article:


Greeting new Fellows, encouraging all

Fellows at SPIE Optics + Photonics

Fellows of the society reconnect over lunch.
Peter Delfyett at SPIE Fellows luncheon

Peter Delfyett challenges his audience.

New Fellows of the Society were introduced at a luncheon Tuesday afternoon. Among those receiving recognition this week were Harrison Barrett, Alexandra Boltasseva, Eva Campo, Abdalla Darwish, Paul Lightsey, Marek Ogiela, Fahima Ouchen, Xiaoxiong Xiong, and Kazuto Yamauchi.

Luncheon speaker Peter Delfyett, director of the Townes Laser Institute at the University of Central Florida, was one of many speakers during the week encouraging efforts to increase participation in science by minorities and women.

He challenged the gathering of SPIE Fellows to "go forth and sell the '5 Ms of photonics'."

Noting that optics and photonics technologies such as telescopes and laser interferometers have allowed humankind to see the edges of the universe and solve some of the world's greatest problems, Delfyett said it should not be that difficult to "sell science" to underrepresented communities and policy makers. He suggested more conversations with those communities to emphasize why science is important in ways that are understandable, inviting, and memorable.

"I tell visitors to my lab that I make light, modulate light, multiplex light, move light, and measure light," the 5 Ms of photonics, Delfyett said.

In addition to education outreach, more attention needs to be paid to solving socio-economic problems and making role models more visible, he said.


Cost-effective commercial technologies for space-to-Earth optical communication

In Tuesday afternoon session of the LiDAR Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring conference, Ray Yang from Nuphoton Technologies Inc. presented on the company's master-oscillator power amplifier (MOPA)-based eye-safe (1550 nm) fiber laser transmitter for space-to-Earth communication (10406-16). This unit is part of the NASA/JPL Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science technology demonstration experiment on the International Space Station.

Nuphoton built the laser transmitter using Telcorida-rated electro-optic and fiber optic components, which were screened for quality prior to assembly. To reach the low-cost goal of this project, no upgrade for radiation tolerance was performed at the part level. The final transmitter had a footprint smaller than 11.5 x 9 x 2.6 inch, and weighted less than 9 lbs. RS-422 interface was implemented in the control system.

The transmitter was launched into space on 18 April 2014, and started its full functional operation on 10 May 10th. It worked normally throughout 30 months, and performed over 50 optical linking tasks to multiple ground stations. On 26 February 2017, the unit was taken off ISS.


Fast, automated 3D modeling of building interiors: Avideh Zakhor plenary talk

In a Tuesday afternoon plenary talk, Avideh Zakhor (University of California, Berkeley) presented a mapping and visualization platform for 3D modeling and documentation of indoor environments.

Beyond modeling architecture, the platform can be used to automatically recognize energy-relevant assets such as windows, lights, and computers. It can also be used to collect building sensor fingerprints, which can later be used in a mobile app to locate building occupants, for example by first responders in emergencies.

Zakhor has been developing this technology for about 10 years at Berkeley, and in 2015 started Indoor Reality, a Berkeley-based company specializing in fast scanning "reality capture" of indoor environments by creating auto-generated 3D blueprints, virtual walkthroughs, and maps of buildings much faster than traditional scanning.

Around 2007, she proposed two distinct hardware systems for 3D indoor modeling: an ambulatory backpack system equipped with sensors worn by an operator walking at normal speeds in and out of rooms in a continuous walk through, and a handheld system carried by a human operator as he or she waves it at walls while walking.


Designing for one to one million: Leo Baldwin plenary talk

Leo Baldwin, an inventor and engineer at Amazon, included in his Tuesday afternoon plenary talk practical tips for how to achieve designs for just a few units, or for many, and illustrated his talk with photographs from a career of consumer inventions.

For starters, he said, if making only a few units, start with online catalogues, and "skip a lot of design work."

However, he said, "you can always make a circuit board. It's never been cheaper."

One can make a custom lens as "an alignment-integrated module." However, showing long parts list for one of his inventions he added, "all these lenses are catalogue lenses."

Baldwin had four general tips for designers.

  • Weigh your decision on using a semicustom versus a ucstom design.
  • Keep in mind that nonexclusive licensing may work; just don't put the item in your catalogue.
  • Consider making two versions of the unit, proprietary and licensed.
  • Most important, involve purchasing and legal departments — "and do that ASAP."


Largest-ever astronomy venture on track for vast astronomical 'census': Steve Kahn plenary talk

In Chile, France, and the U.S., elements of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) observatory, mankind's biggest-ever astronomy venture, are rolling smoothly toward first light, said its director, Steve Kahn (Stanford University), in a plenary talk Tuesday afternoon.

Kahn's comments came days after LSST engineers lifted the dome covering the observatory's smaller auxiliary telescope into position. That followed installation of the camera data acquisition system last month.

Originally, the telescope had been due to begin operations in 2014. Those plans slipped and private backers — including Bill Gates — stepped in with personal funding to help get LSST back on track.

"LSST is deep into the construction-fabrication phase of the project, with significant work being undertaken by collaborators and industrial partners around the world," Kahn said. Partners include the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the CC-IN2P3 scientific computing center, both in France, who are working on cameras and sensor testing.

The amount of data produced will be equal to everything human beings have ever written down, while images captured by LSST will exceed all of the cell phone pictures ever taken, Kahn said.

Read more in the article:


Young Investigator in x-ray nanoimaging

X-ray Nanoimaging Young Investigator Award

Makoto Hirose of Osaka University was awareded the XIA X-ray Nanoimaging Young Investigator Award in conference 10389 Tuesday afternoon. From left are program committee member Christian Schroer (DESY), conference chair Andrea Somogyi (Synchrotron SOLEIL), Hirose, and conference chair Barry Lai (Argonne National Lab).


And the winners are ... polarized!

Joe Shaw, Dan LeMaster, Frans Snik, Scott Tyo

From left, Joe Shaw, Dan LeMaster, Frans Snik, and Scott Tyo

Winners of a first-ever Polarization Photo Contest were announced Tuesday afternoon in the conference on Polarization Science and Remote Sensing. Conference chair Joe Shaw of Montana State University and program committee member Scott Tyo of UNSW Canberra congratulated Frans Snik for his first and second place wins and Dan LeMaster for his third place (tied with an entry from Samuel Pellicori who was not present for the photo).

Polarization photo contest, Frans Snik

First place: Colors of the Street (Snik)
Polarization photo contest, Frans Snik

Second place: Reflecting Beetles (Snik)
Polarization photo contest, Dan LeMaster

Third place: Orbeez (LeMaster)
Polarization photo contest, Samuel Pellicori

Third place: Flutes (Pellicori)


Student Chapter mixer in the exhibition hall

Student Chapter mixer Student Chapter mixer

Student Chapter members presented posters Tuesday afternoon in the exhibit hall showcasing their chapters' activities.


Studying insects with LiDAR, for food supply, disease control, and more

Martin Tauc of Montana State University presented Tuesday afternoon on noninvasively monitoring the spatial distributions of flying insects with LiDAR (10406-15).

Tauc answered the question "why insects?" noting their roles in the food chain and as important pollinators, key disease vectors, and even tools in such areas as mine detection.

They are also declining at an alarming rate, which makes monitoring them a crucial matter.

The scanning LiDAR system that they implemented distinguished insects by their wing-beat frequencies, using MATLAB to control the mount, data collection, and post-processing. They conducted their experiment at AMK Ranch at Grand Teton National Park last summer and gained initial results showing insect spatial distribution at different times within the day.

Planned improvements include developing a post-processing code for insect classification, fixing algorithm errors, and shrinking the system to become quicker and more user-friendly. Tauc reported that future experiments could focus on monitoring insects' response to noise and light, so looking at areas with known light pollution would be a priority.


New officers, new fellowship

SPIE Annual General Meeting 2017

At the 2017 annual general meeting of the society: from left, CEO Eugene Arthurs,
President-Elect Maryellen Giger, President Glenn Boreman, Secretary/Treasurer Gary Spiegel,
Vice President Jim Oschmann, and Immediate Past President Bob Lieberman.

SPIE Fellow John Greivenkamp, professor of optical science and ophthalmology at the College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona, has been elected to serve as the 2018 Vice President of the Society, President Glenn Boreman, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, announced during the annual general meeting of the society Tuesday evening.

Greivenkamp joins the SPIE presidential chain and will serve as President-Elect in 2019 and President in 2020. Gary Spiegel, retired from Newport Corp., was elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Newly elected Society Directors, who will serve three-year terms for 2018-2020, were also announced:

  • Kazuo Kuroda, Utsunomiya University
  • Chris Mack, Fractilia, LLC
  • Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Vanderbilt University
  • Kristen Maitland, Texas A&M University

Maryellen Giger, University of Chicago, will serve as President in 2018, and Jim Oschmann, Ball Aerospace, will serve as President-Elect.

Read more in the SPIE press release:

A new fellowship in biophotonics was also announced.

The fellowship honors Franz Hillenkamp and is a partnership among SPIE, the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Laser Center Lübeck, the Beckman Laser Institute at University of California, Irvine, and the Hillenkamp family. It includes an annual award of $75,000 to support interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provide specific training opportunities for translating new technologies to clinical practice for improving human health.

More information is in the SPIE press release:


Celebrating SPIE members

SPIE Optics + Photonics Member Reception

SPIE members enjoyed another lovely evening in San Diego during a rooftop reception Tuesday.
See more photos from receptions and other social events in our gallery:
SPIE Optics + Photonics Member Reception


Bioplasmonic and bioelectronic devices for human health and performance

The cognitive and physical demands of today's operational environment include long hours, physical demands, time pressure, and information overload, said Rajesh Naik (Air Force Materiel Command) in a keynote address Wednesday morning.

Several biochemical markers associated with stress have been identified, such as cortisol (stress), dopamine (cognition), oxytocin (behavioral), and troponin (exercise, stress). Other markers include heart rate and pupil dilation. These can also be used to measure workload and performance.

Naik and his team are working to develop bioplasmonic and bioelectronic sensors to monitor military performance such as fatigue, cardiac function, stress, and other biological markers in real-time, in a variety of mission settings.

Naik noted that biological materials, such as proteins, are unique in their ability to transform themselves and interact with nonbiological agents. Peptides in particular are highly selective and stable. They can be combined with sensitive nanomaterials like graphene or silicon nanowire to develop versatile sensing platforms for ultrasensitive, molecular detection of certain biological or chemical signatures in the body.

One approach has been to develop paper-based devices, as nanoparticles can be easily captured on a paper substrate.


Multilayer MRI description of Parkinson's disease

In the conference on Applications of Digital Image Processing Wednesday morning, Marianna La Rocca (Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro) discussed development of a fully automated framework to analyze brain MRI scans and detect Parkinson's disease (PD) onset (10396-44). Her group demonstrated that a multilayer network approach is able to discriminate patients with PD from healthy subjects.

"This study grew from three fundamental questions La Rocca said. "To what extent can complex networks reveal and describe structural changes in MRI images; can these structural changes be a bio-marker of a neuro-degenerative disease such as Parkinson's; and can they involve anatomical regions peculiarly connected to Parkinson's disease?"

The group used MRIs of normal controls (NC) and subjects with PD. Demographic information included age, gender, education, and diagnosis (NC or PD).

All the Parkinson's patients were de novo — in the first stages of PD. La Rocca noted that having de novo patients was important, because they had received no medication for the disease, and treatment could change the biomarker of Parkinson's.

Techniques included creating a brain connectivity model, a network feature extraction, and a learning and a validation algorithm.


Interested? Yes, indeed!

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2017 exhibition

Exhibition hall visitors liked what they saw, and connections for possible new business were made, as the show continued on Wednesday.


Low cost, superior skills gaining support for CubeSats: Thomas Pagano plenary talk

CubeSats are attracting growing support at NASA due to their low cost and superior skills in tasks such as predicting global weather, said Thomas Pagano (Jet Propulsion Lab ) in a plenary talk Wednesday morning.

NASA is developing new technologies for use by CubeSats in vital weather prediction and a variety of other applications. In his role as principal investigator for the CubeSat Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (CIRAS) program, whose inaugural launch on a commercial satellite is expected in 2019, Pagano is working on technology to measure radiation in the mid-wave infrared spectrum. CIRAS partners include Ball Aerospace, BAE Systems in Colorado, IR Cameras, and Blue Canyon Technologies.

Pagano suggested that with expanding interest in CubeSats and smaller NanoSats, the sector may seek to hold a full CubeSat conference every year at SPIE Optics and Photonics. For now, the next one is set for 2018.

NASA is starting to complement its old weather satellite program with the much smaller space hardware inside CubeSats, which offer improved methods and new applications for drought prediction, monitoring weather hazards for the aviation industry, or monitoring environmental shifts that may contribute to vector-borne diseases such as malaria.

Read more in the article:


Ultrahigh-field enhancement with thin metal film-based plasmonics

An inaugural keynote presentation Wednesday afternoon by Ibrahim Abdulhalim from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Nanyang Technological University on nanostructured thin films (10356-1) kicked off the Nanostructured Thin Films conference. Abdulhalim described his group's work using nanostructured thin metal films for light-field enhancement and biomedical sensing.

Abdulhalim introduced two forms of plasmonics: extended plasmonic excitation at the metal-dielectric interface, and localized plasmonic excitation in metallic nanoparticles. Both forms enhance the local electrical field by orders of magnitude and their resonances are affected by the surrounding media, laying the foundation for sensing applications.

Abdulhalim discussed several configurations of using nanostructured metal films for improved biosensors to be used in monitoring bacteria and water contaminants.

He concluded by explaining ultrahigh-field enhancement enabled by "hybridizing" both the extended and localized plasmonic resonances. Besides biomedical sensing, such plasmonic enhancement will find various other applications in photonic circuits, optoelectronic devices, cancer therapy, data storage, etc.


Rewarding mentorship takes off at the Career Lab

Career Lab at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2017

Making connections with people always plays a vital role in one's career path. There is usually someone who helped us get where we are today. She or he may be a research advisor, senior lab mate, collaborator, or person met at an SPIE conference.

In this year Optics + Photonics conference, a new program called Career Lab was launched, on Wednesday afternoon — a more-than-networking event where students and early career professionals connected with industry professionals and accomplished academics. Approximately 30 people attended to ask questions, share experiences, and provide advice. Mentorship started with the Career Lab will be carried on after the event.

Career Lab at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2017 Career Lab at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2017


Diversity, unconscious bias, and inclusion

Ideas and suggestions for creating more diversity in optics and photonics also came out of a breakfast reception on Thursday. Discussion at the session on diversity and inclusion focused on recognizing unconscious biases, being aware of and sensitive to cultural differences, and taking advantage of the many formal and informal networking opportunities that SPIE offers at conferences like SPIE Optics + Photonics.

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, chair of the SPIE ad hoc committee on diversity, asked participants to consider what they could do at their universities, labs, and offices to welcome more members of under-represented groups and people who are "different" from the majority. In addition to including those of a different race or gender, under-represented groups could include those who speak a different language or are from a different country, people who are older or younger, and and even people who work in a different division of your company or university.

"There's more to diversity than gender," she said.

Diversity and inclusion discussion at SPIE Optics + Photonics Diversity and inclusion discussion at SPIE Optics + Photonics
Diversity and inclusion discussion at SPIE Optics + Photonics Diversity and inclusion discussion at SPIE Optics + Photonics


Low-cost, large-area nanopatterning with plasmonic nanoparticle lithography

Zhenying Pan (A*STAR Data Storage Institute) presented a nanopatterning technique called plasmonic nanoparticle lithography in a talk Thursday morning in Plasmonics: Design, Materials, Fabrication, Characterization, and Applications (10346-10).

The technique is based on plasmon printing, where a nanohole is created in the recording medium by the near-field hotspot from a nanoparticle illuminated with a laser pulse.

Although able to create nanoscale patterns at low cost, plasmon printing has its limitations, including random distribution of holes, weak control over the nanohole's position and distribution, and non-reusability of the nanoparticles.

To solve these limitations, Pan and her colleagues first employed the laser-induced transfer technique to fabricate ordered patterns of nanoparticles on a flexible substrate.

Then, they applied the obtained flexible substrate in a plasmon printing set-up and transferred the pattern onto a thin Cr coating. The patterns on the Cr film can be further transferred down to the substrate (e.g., silicon, glass) through plasma etching.

Plasmonic nanoparticle lithography is resist-free and fast in speed. It can also been performed on a curved surface thanks to its flexible "mask." However, it is a contact technique and is so far limited to creating patterns consisting of holes or pillars.


Awards in Active Photonic Platforms

Stavroula Foteinopoulou and Hossein Hodaei

Stavroula Foteinopoulou and Hossein Hodaei
Stavroula Foteinopoulou and Sophie Viaene

Stavroula Foteinopoulou and Sophie Viaene

Conference chairs Stavroula Foteinopoulou (University of New Mexico) and Ganapathi Subramania (Sandia National Labs) congratulated winners in a competitive Best Student Paper competition Thursday afternoon.

First place went to Hossein Hodaei (CREOL, University of Central Florida) et al. for "Higher-order exceptional points in photonic systems" (10345-74).

Second place went to Si Hui Pan (University of California, San Diego) et al. for "Dynamics and coherence of metal-clad nanolasers" (10345-18).

Third place went to Sophie Viaene (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) et al. for "Tunable chip metasurfaces based on the transfer of electromagnetic angular momentum" (10345-35).


Printable soft-electronics for remote body monitoring

"Because our population is aging, we need to provide better accessibility to healthcare without increasing the cost," said Matti Mäntysalo (Tampere University of Technology) in a talk Thursday afternoon on printed soft-electronics for remote body system monitoring (10366-13). "Digitalization of healthcare (a megatrend) is happening through wearable electronics, such as wrist devices or textile electronics, and then integrating those with cloud computing."

Mäntysalo and his colleagues at the Printable Electronics Research Group have been investigating printed electronic materials, fabrication processes (including surface-, pre- and post-treatments), quality and performance, reliability, and failure analyses. Their work focuses especially on the integration of printed and silicon-based electronics with inkjet technology.

The system presented by Mäntysalo looks like an L-shaped strip with three leads. Data is collected and sent to mobile device, which sends that information to the cloud where a number of pipelines compute the data into algorithms the user can easily read. That data can then be sent to the doctor if necessary.

"This system offers hospital-level accuracy, unobtrusive measurement, and is customizable to the individual," said Mäntysalo.


Optogenetic e-skins

In an invited talk on Thursday afternoon (10366-16), Benjamin Tee from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore talked about his work on optogenetic electronic skins (e-skins).

E-skins hold great potential to change the way we interact with the digital environment, Tee said. He detailed development of digital-frequency-encoded mechanical receptor based e-skins inspired by human skins.

The e-skin which Tee and his colleagues developed consists of three key parts: pressure sensor, organic oscillator, and optogenetic interface.

To increase the sensor's sensitivity, they microstructured the piezo resistor and successfully lowered down its modulus. They fabricated the organic oscillator using inkjet-printed CMOS circuits on flexible substrates with frequencies in range of human touch receptors. To move around the low saturation frequency of electrical stimulations, they employed an alternative stimulation mechanism based on optogenetics: use light to stimulate neurons.

By integrating these three parts together, they successfully constructed an e-skin which converted pressure into a digital response in a pressure range comparable to that found in a human grip.


Join the conversation on social media:


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Tiny CubeSats are making space more accessible for study (10 July 2017)

Finding the technologies of the future (23 June 2017)

Very wearable wearables usher in new paradigm in healthcare (12 June 2017)

Technology for virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, wearables, quantum communications, and more at SPIE Optics and Photonics (22 May 2017)


All photos © SPIE unless otherwise noted.

SPIE Optics + Photonics

6 – 10 August 2017
San Diego, California, USA

Quick Links

Students first: Becoming an effective leader

Revealing the hidden figures

Compact x-ray sources for research tools

Metasurfaces for better terahertz quantum cascade lasers

Technologies for now and the future

Impressive! Optics Outreach Games showcase Student Chapter projects

3D printing at the nanoscale: Martin Wegener plenary talk

Light manipulation at the atomic scale using 2D plasmons: García de Abajo plenary talk

Applications for 2D flexible and emerging devices: Deji Akinwande plenary talk

Still cutting-edge at 40: Digital Image Processing conference celebrates

OLEDS: the Pacmen eating the displays market

Transistors in biosensing

DragonflEye: dragonfly carrying a backpack

History — and future — of photovoltaics: Charles Gay plenary talk

Photovoltaics moving into the terawatt age: Eicke Weber plenary talk

Bankability of novel energy technologies: Ralph Romero plenary talk

Enabling future space missions: NASA panel discussion

Neural interfaces inspired by cephalopods

Challenges at mid-career: Women in Optics

Honoring a pioneer in optical trapping

Transparent conductive oxide for nonlinear and ultrafast optics

Towards chip-scale integration of electronics and photonics: Larry Dalton plenary talk

Lasers for planetary defense

Into the storm: Doppler wind LiDAR

Molecular plasmonics: Naomi Halas plenary talk

Halide Perovskite photovoltaics: Nam-Gyu Park plenary talk

Design ‘green' for the third-generation PV world — and new markets: Michael Grätzel plenary talk

Greeting new Fellows, encouraging all

Cost-effective commercial technologies for space-to-Earth optical communication

Fast, automated 3D modeling of building interiors: Avideh Zakhor plenary talk

Designing for one to one million: Leo Baldwin plenary talk

Largest-ever astronomy venture on track for vast astronomical 'census': Steve Kahn plenary talk

Studying insects with LiDAR, for food supply, disease control, and more

New officers, new fellowship

Bioplasmonic and bioelectronic devices for human health and performance

Multilayer MRI description of Parkinson's disease

Low cost, superior skills gaining support for CubeSats: Thomas Pagano plenary talk

Ultrahigh-field enhancement with thin metal film-based plasmonics

Rewarding mentorship takes off at the Career Lab

Diversity, unconscious bias, and inclusion

Low-cost, large-area nanopatterning with plasmonic nanoparticle lithography

Printable soft-electronics for remote body monitoring

Optogenetic e-skins


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