Photonics West 2016: an observatory of the scientific and industrial Photonics trends

Each year, Photonics West – both the conference and the exhibition – is a great opportunity to update one’s global feeling about Photonics. The articulation between scientific conferences and exhibitions is particularly interesting to demonstrate the technologies maturity cycles.

Indeed, a scientist customer stopping by our booth told us that the exhibition was so exciting that he would have liked to spend three entire days to visit it. Unfortunately, the conferences are also very insightful!

Let’s review together some of the highlights of this year’s edition.

Photonic crystal fibers invented twenty years ago is still a vibrant technology. Even much older, Raman spectroscopy is widely used, amongst other domains, in medical device innovation. Photonics being visited again and again.

Notably, the rogue wave theme is a way to open new research horizons, through an approach based on the analogy with an oceanic phenomenon. A whole session has been devoted to this new topic!

Whereas VCSEL is less of a hot topic in the scientific world, it is finding a market mostly outside the photonics field, for instance in the medical and smartphone world. At the same time, we observed the impressive deployment of a cousin technology, the VeCSEL one, with more than two days of talks dedicated to it.

It is also very interesting to observe the maturity of the femto laser market with manufacturers offering this technology in two very different ways, either as an industrial laser, or in scientific applications.

Similarly, the disruptive technology of high-power semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers has led to the emergence of different markets.

Also, it is very intriguing to observe that although quantum optics is a hot topic in the papers, it barely appears in the exhibition. Perhaps not so easy to implement in a real product?

It is worth noticing as well that in the microscopy / imaging field, the discovery of new disruptive technics lead to the built of new start-up companies offering applicative solutions, rather than generic microscopes.

The LED, and more generally illumination, market is huge, but not represented in the exhibition. This is the case of many photonics new technologies presented in the talks which will never appear in the exhibition because they are directly focused on a non-optical application. These could be the most promising. Observing who did not show up at the Photonics West exhibition is another interesting aspect!

Last but not least, it was amazing to see, on almost each booth, at least one new product showing in a number of cases a real breakthrough. With a record of 1,345 exhibitors, we both had quantity and quality and, as we experienced ourselves, a great desire to start new collaborations and to open one’s technology to others.

From RESOLUTION Spectra Systems perspective, the Photonics West conferences and exhibition are a good mean to nurture ourselves with insights which enable us to improve our technology and to better respond to our customers’ needs with new products, such as our WIDE Spectra.

As a side note, illustrating an above point, we are also developing products for markets outside the Photonics industry, namely in the Structure Control and Process Analytics areas.

Christophe BONNEVILLE, President