Onsite News

On this page:

   Monday 12 April

   Tuesday 13 April

   Wednesday 14 April

   Thursday 15 April

See Photo Gallery

Thursday 15 April

Photonics Innovation Village on the show floor.

The week’s activity at the well-visited Photonics Innovation Village culminated Thursday afternoon with the presentation of awards to the top research projects chosen by a jury comprising some of the members of Photonics21 who have been involved with Photonics Europe. The competition was held in cooperation with the European Commission and co-organised by the Brussels Photonics Team, and prizes for the six winners were funded by the Brussels Capital Region.

In the individual category, the top winner was Thomas Woggon of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for VISOLAS: the tunable organic laser. First runner-up was Lawrence Bogaert of Vrije Univ. Brussel with the Image Steering Integrated Screen (ISIS) for 3D viewing as first runner-up; and second runner-up was Maria Farsari, ISEL/FORTH, with photosensitive materials for two-photon polymerization.

In the multilateral category, the winners were Multitel (accepted by Fabian Dortu) with an optical instrument of interrogating high-sensitivity and multiparametric photonic biochips for future point-of-care diagnostic; CMST Univ. Gent (accepted by Erwin Bosman) with Photonics in Motion, a stretchable optical waveguide; and Optrima (accepted by Johannes Peeters) with a 3D camera.

Kobus Kuipers

The final Hot Topics session of the week continued the trend of the week, with a large audience crowding into the Copper Hall to hear top-level speakers.

First up was Kobus Kuipers, Univ. of Amsterdam, on visualizing light fields in nanophotonics. Bernard Kippelen, Georgia Institute of Technology, described the possibilities for plastic photonics and electronics, and Benjamin Eggleton, Univ. of Sydney, spoke about work his group has done and collaborations with others in ultrafast nonlinear optics on a chip.

Bernard Kippelen before a full house.

The week’s second round of poster sessions filled halls throughout The Square with authors and poster viewers.

Attendees enjoying refreshments and conversation at the unique Comic Strip Museum.

The finale networking event of Photonics Europe was held at the nearby Comic Strip Museum. Several hundred attendees enjoyed a walking dinner and a chance to see displays of the numerous widely known comic strips that have originated in Brussels and surrounding regions.

Total attendance for the Photonics Europe 2010 week was 2,150, an increase over the previous meetings. General Chair Francis Berghmans commented at the Thursday Hot Topics session on the strong attendance and excellent presentations that characterized the event. The final conference sessions ended Friday afternoon, with organisers and attendees alike looking forward to SPIE Photonics 2012.

Back to top

Wednesday 14 April

Eleni Alexandratou

Conferences, exhibition, and networking continued in full swing on Wednesday. At the Women in Optics luncheon, Eleni Alexandratou, National Technical Univ. of Athens, and a member of the gender management team of the www.Brighter.EU project, brought data gathered from throughout the world to her presentation on a recent EU study of gender-based issues. Among the projects observations was that while the percentage of women science students is increasing, the numbers are still imbalanced for top level jobs. Stereotypes exist, and “the playing field is not level,” she said. Factors that help improve the balance are awareness the issues, recognition of the strengths that different styles bring to business, and policies that encourage sharing of family responsibilities with both partners.

Following on a career workshop for students on Tuesday, with advice on managing the job interview and information on the science work environment, speakers at Wednesday’s “best practices” session provided more insights on being successful in the profession of science. John Dudley, Univ. de Franche-Comté, advised on building a research career. Toby Murcott, science writer for the BBC, Times, and other publications, explained how to effectively communicate science to journalists in order to reach the public and policy makers. Ronan Burgess, Photonics Unit, EC, spoke on the do’s and don’ts of EU funding, and Yves Verbandt, European Patent Office, shared best practices when applying for a European patent.

Wolfgang Sandner

Awards for “best papers” were announced at the start of the afternoon’s “Advancing the Laser: 50 Years and Into the Future” plenary session.

Compelling talks by Wolfgang Sandner, Max Born Institute Berlin; Ursula Keller, ETH Zurich; and Mike Dunne, UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, illuminated future directions for laser technology.

Sandner outlined the global collaboration that characterizes laser research today, and the technology’s integral role in the strong growth in the photonics market in recent years. Important sectors are medical, energy, mobility, and climate—all priorities in the “grand challenges” facing today’s world. (Sandner recently was elected president of the 58,000-member German Physical Society.) Keller described the dynamic research history of ultrafast lasers, and how the each step has pushed the next. In her years in the field, she said, “the excitement has never gone away.”

Dunne echoed her enthusiasm, and told students and post-docs that it is indeed “a good time to be in the field.” He talked about collaborations in the fusion experiments at NIF (U.S. National Ignition Facility) and HiPER, and expressed confidence that the “long journey” is close to success.

SPIE President Ralph James with Mike Dunne

Student Best Paper Awards were made by each of the 19 conferences, and presented before the start of the laser anniversary plenary session Wednesday afternoon.

View pictures of best paper award winners

Winners were:
Conf. 7711: Amna Elhawil,* Vrije Univ. Brussel
Conf. 7712: Raphael Gutbrod, Eberhard Karls Univ. Tübingen
Conf. 7713: Priya Rose Thankamani,*Univ. degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Conf. 7714: Alexander Heidt, Stellenbosch Univ.
Conf. 7715: Sebastian Marschall,* Technical Univ. Denmark
Conf: 7716: Guoping Lin, Ecole Normale Supérieure
Conf. 7717: Patrick Bouchon, ONERA/Ctr. National de la Recherche Scientifique
Conf. 7718: Jerzy Krezel,* Warsaw Univ. of Technology
Conf. 7719: Renil Kumar,* Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering
Conf. 7720: Ahmed Al-Samaneh, Univ. Ulm
Conf. 7721A: Vanessa Cardinalli, Commissariat à la Energie Atomique
Conf. 7721B: Alexey Kuzmin,* Institute of Applied Physics
Conf. 7722: Sönke Klinkhammer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Conf. 7723: Eleni Varsaki, Helenic Open Univ.
Conf. 7724: Xavier Maurice,* CNRS / Univ. of Strasburg
Conf. 7725: Shrestha Basu Mallick, Stanford Univ.
Conf. 7726: Adriana Warzecha, IMEP-LAHC and Kapteos SAS
Conf. 7727: Igor Barinov, Vladimir State Univ.
Conf. 7728: Hua Ji, Technical Univ. Denmark
* = Not pictured

Back to top

Tuesday 13 April

The Photonics Europe Exhibition opened with over 130 companies and busy aisles this morning. "We haven't stopped talking all morning—this is quite some traffic," said Bernhard Michel of Simuloptics. "Brussels is excellently linked to all of Europe. Based on the number of contacts, I am certain this will be a good show."

The exhibition continues through Thursday afternoon.

The Photonics Innovation Village is open in the exhibition hall as well, showcasing 21 contestants for awards to be announced Thursday afternoon. The Innovation Village is held in cooperation with the European Commission and co-organised by the Brussels Photonics Team (B-Phot)—recognisable all around Photonics Europe by their distinctive green ties and scarves.

Congress General Chair Francis Berghmans, B-Phot leader and professor at Vrije Univ. Brussel, was presented with a plaque in recognition of his being named an SPIE Fellow, by SPIE President Ralph James at a luncheon honoring the Fellows present at the meeting. Berghmans was honored for his work in optical fibre sensors and his contributions to SPIE. The Society has named approximately 800 Fellows since its inception in 1955.

The Fellows enjoyed an invited lecture presented by Ursula Keller, ETH Zurich, on work on the MIXSEL, a novel ultrafast semiconductor laser developed by her group.

Intriguing talks were given by Mario Paniccia, Intel, and Radhakrishnan Nagarajan, Infinera, in the second Hot Topics session of the week. Paniccia talked about Intel’s work in silicon photonic devices to meet the rapidly increasing needs for communications capacity and speed, and Nagarajan framed his discussion of future directions for InP photonic integration with a discussion of the current state of the art.

Poster receptions in three locations throughout The Square Tuesday evening drew crowds to discuss papers with the authors. A second set of poster receptions will be held Thursday evening.

Back to top

Monday 12 April

‘Networking creates opportunity’

SPIE Photonics Europe in Brussels is the place to be this week for photonics researchers and developers, with near-capacity audiences in the conference rooms, activities for students, and several special events on opening day. The symposium runs through Friday in The Square Conference Centre.

Francis Berghmans, one of four General Chairs, and Hugo Thienpont, Honorary Chair, both affiliated with Vrije Univ. Brussel, welcomed attendees and introduced the morning’s three plenary speakers.

“Networking creates opportunity,” opening speaker Giorgio Anania of Cube Optics told the overflow crowd. Anania gave an overview of the accomplishments Photonics21 since its founding in 2004, and credited the organization with helping photonics gain the status of “key enabling technology” with the European Commission and helping to focus both funding and attention on the field. Anania noted particular opportunities for European industry in telecommunications, manufacturing, and life sciences.

Plenary speakers Stefan Hell of Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and Kishan Dholakia of Univ. of St Andrews reported on two specific areas where light is applied in ground-breaking research with important potential applications in life sciences. Hell described work with focused light in nanoscopy that eliminates the diffraction barrier and enables localization and pictures of individual molecules. Dholakia talked about advances in micromanipulation that would enable such applications as drug delivery with light.

Anania, a vice president of Photonics21, also had the pleasant task of awarding the 2010 Photonics21 Student Innovation Award to two outstanding researchers, Natalie Vermeulen of Vrije Universiteit Brussels and Sedat Nizamoglu of Bilkent Univ. The award is sponsored by Thales, SPIE Europe, and the European project ACCORD.

SPIE President Ralph James announced the presentation of the SPIE A.E. Conrady Award to Juan Carlos Minaño of Univ. Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), in recognition of his exceptional contributions in developing new design methods and devices in nonimaging optics.

Student events were heavily attended as well, starting with the perennially popular “Lunch with Experts” in the aptly named Panoramic Hall at the top of The Square. An afternoon “Hit the Target” laser activity training prepare attendees to teach the activity to students in the middle grades, and engage and enrich their understanding of science and math. The training is one of several popular events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the laser in 2010.

Conference presentations began in the afternoon. Sessions drawing exceptional crowds were in Biophotonics, Silicon Photonics, Solid State Lasers, Photonic Crystal Fibres, and Optical Sensing and Detection.

Monday afternoon's Industry Perspectives Programme was the forum for full discussion of the opportunities, and challenges around advancing the advancing the Photonics21 strategic research agenda for photonics. Among the points shared:

Giorgio Anania, Photonics21 Vice President, noted that the real aim for the strategic agenda is sellable products on the market, turning science into jobs, and company profits. Priorities including enabling the "Digital Village" and solar manufacturing tools—including non-contact, laser-based materials processing. The Solid State Lighting (SSL) Innovation Alliance is another key priority supported by Photonics21. Photonics21 is also funding projects to use photonics for early detection and treatment of cancer. The fifth focus area involves security networks using photonics sensors.

Sebastian Bigo of Alcatel Lucent in France outlined R&D in photonic components and photonics systems, which will make communication networks faster, more dynamic, more transparent and more green. "Developers are working to use more optical communications and convergence between wired and wireless networks, based on research into self-configurig networks that can adjust to traffic demand. For this, we are working for photonics everywhere," Bigo said.

Stefan Kaierle from Fraunhofer ILT and the European Laser Institute described sources and components, process development and manufacturing systems that are driving lasers in industrial manufacturing. Example applications including lightweight crash-safe cars, lowering the cost of photovoltaic manufacturing, and advanced medical technology. Trends for laser technology include automated assembly of photonic devices, lasers with improved performance, adaptive photonic sources with tailorable wavelength and reconfigurable beam delivery networks and new waveguidance concepts. Research areas include basic studies in light-matter interaction, processing new materials, process diagnostics, integration of adaptive laser sources with closed-loop feedback controls.

"The Photonics21 area of life sciences and healthcare has already achieved many good results in many ways including seeing cancer in tissues," said Jürgen Popp of the Institute for Photonic Technology. Further breakthroughs are expected in the area of the eyes for both opthamology, minimally invasive surgery and also, Popp said, "We are using the eye as a window to the body and using light as the key to understanding life, including analysing live cells." Life science, oncololgy, ophthamology and infectious diseases/sepsis emerged as key research priorities based on input from workshops with end-users in the medical community.

Lighting and displays are another key focus of the Photonics21 research agenda. An update in this technology was provided by Peter Visser of Philips Lighting. The areas of lighting, organic electronics and smart system integration are combined into this work area. Common research themes include: new materials, integration into meaningful solutions (including luminares for lighting installations) and cost-down manufacturing. Visser added that while Europe has been strong in R&D, work should be done to speed-up commercialisation, to help drive start-ups from research breakthroughts and massive industrialisation of novel technologies using high-speed assembly, automation and in-line quality control.

Ronan Burgess of the European Commission said that Europe has strengths in technology development, including lasers, but has been absent in the area of manufactuing flat panel displays. Burgess said many jobs are driven by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with over 5,000 such companies in Europe. The Photonics21 research agenda includes applications of photonics where Europe is strong: communication, lighting, health, manufacturing and security. In each of these areas, the European Commission is funding rearch, and encouraging "a bridge between national funding and European funding. Our daily business is selecting and launching research projects," Burgess said. There are 27 new projects on the horizon with 100 million euros of funding being contributed by the European Commision. The key, said Burgess, is matching technology focus with application drive.

Back to top