The U.S.-China Trade Dispute and Scarce Minerals
The U.S.-China trade dispute is once again directly impacting the optical communications sector, following last year's ban on sales to Chinese equipment maker ZTE. Now a White House executive order has imposed sanctions on Huawei, a telecom giant with over US$ 100 billion in revenues, but one highly dependent on foreign suppliers of chips and software. Swept up in this are the companies directly impacted by the sanctions, as well as companies on all sides that may benefit from the disruption in the supply chain. Complicating this are announcements of exemptions, delays, and a timeline to review the policies. And there are the ripple effects to stock prices, consumer and business confidence, currency exchange rates, and the economy more broadly.
No one can sincerely claim to know where it's all going, but experts warn that while the leaders may avert an all-out trade war, the two countries cannot go back to where things were. The world has changed, and trade will remain a top issue for the foreseeable future, and just one tool of a larger confrontation on national security.
Almost unnoticed is that all this may make scarce minerals an issue again. On 20 May 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top trade negotiator appeared at the facility of a manufacturer of magnets based on rare earth elements, to make the point that China could restrict export of rare earths again, as leverage in the trade negotiations (see here). About 80% of U.S. demand for rare earths is supplied by Chinese producers, amounting to about US$ 160 million of imports in 2018. Following the visit from Xi Jinping, Chinese stocks related to rare earths advanced, and a Hong Kong company doubled in value, in just two days.
Rare earth elements form just one set of exotic materials used in optics and photonics and other high tech industries, such as to manufacture electric cars. "Rare" does not refer to their relative scarcity, but to their place in the periodic table. Terms used in the context of scarcity or vulnerability include: scarce materials, critical materials, or strategic materials (such as those identified in the European Commission's list of Critical Raw Materials).
Source: European Chemical Society (here).
The figure illustrates the scarcity of elements, according to European Chemical Society. It shows that most of the rare earth elements are in "plentiful supply," but that refers only to the ability to extract it, not to political controls over its trade. The U.S. Geological Survey reports rare earth minerals in annual reports (here), including information on production, imports, exports, tariffs, and stockpiles.
Trade in rare earth elements is as complicated as the trade dispute itself. An export embargo by China might be counterproductive by pushing other countries to other sources. It might upset supply chains for products that China imports that use rare earths. And in fact, China actually imports some rare-earth ore from a U.S. mine in California. China's Ministry of Land and Resources has non-voting minority ownership in the U.S. mine, through a holding company (see here). A dispute over rare-earths could have implications far beyond today, extending into a reevaluation of critical materials generally and long term investments in mines and mineral processing facilities.
OIDA last reported on the rise and fall of rare earth mineral prices in the July 2015 OIDA newsletter. OIDA has also addressed trade topics in previous issues, such as the U.S. solar panel tariffs in the February 2018 OIDA newsletter. For more on OSA's government relations effort, click here or contact David Lang, Senior Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing the Agriphotonics Market
This is a time of great opportunity in agriphotonics—the use of optics and photonics in agriculture—but the field faces challenges in two very different markets: wealthy and less-wealthy countries. This was one of the findings of a meeting on Advanced Spectroscopy in Precision Agriculture, held on 13-14 May 2019 at OSA headquarters, in Washington DC.
Agricultural products contribute about US$ 5 trillion to the global economy, and OIDA estimates the market for agricultural equipment and materials (including seed, feed, and fertilizer) at about US$ 650 billion. The cumulative investment in agricultural science lags far behind human medical science, but improvements in productivity are now needed to expand global food production to meet demand and keep food prices affordable. To this end, the industry is looking to so-called precision agriculture, also known as smart farming, or Farming 4.0 (imitating the idea of Industry 4.0).
OIDA estimates that the spending on so-called precision agricultural equipment is in the single-digit billions of dollars per year. Much of it requires optical technology, including hyperspectral imaging, to identify a range of parameters, such as soil hydration. Optics is already in use to analyze crops from satellites, drones, and at field level.
The timing is good, with private funding to precision agriculture start-ups increasing in recent years. There are reports of several billion dollars per year of new investment in these start-ups in recent years, and perhaps as much again in R&D spending to universities and corporate research labs. The chart shows funding in U.S. agricultural R&D, adjusted for inflation to 2013 dollars, showing declining funding from government agencies but strong growth in funding from the private sector.
OIDA from USDA data (2019).
The less-wealthy countries present a strikingly different market and set of challenges. Precision agriculture also promises great gains in productivity, but the market is fragmented among millions of small, individual farms that cannot afford the technology by themselves. Adoption will require investment from provincial governments or collective farm organizations who could share user-friendly information to farmers.
OIDA previously reported on agriphotonics in the January 2016 issue of the OIDA Market Update, and OIDA will report on the meeting in an upcoming OIDA Market Update. OSA has reported on agriphotonics in the November 2017 issue of OSA's Optics & Photonics News. For more information on this meeting and OIDA's presentation, contact Tom Hausken here.
Update on the U.S. National Quantum Initiative
On 20 December 2018 U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the National Quantum Initiative Act, forming coordinating structures across the federal government and outlining how large new increases for quantum information science and technology (QIST) research, if they come to fruition, should be deployed by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy. This Act authorized up to US$ 1.275 billion over 5 years for certain QIST activities but did not appropriate (that is, it did not actually provide) the funds. Appropriations are at play now in Congress. OSA, through its National Photon
Meanwhile, NSF, DOE, and NIST are adjusting their programs to reflect the NQI Act's objectives. NSF in February issued a solicitation for Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes; DOE recently started seeking public input on future Quantum Information Science Centers; and NIST launched the public-private Quantum Economic Development-Consortium last fall. The President's budget request asked for US$ 430 million in fiscal year 2020 for quantum research across NSF, DOE, NIST, and the Department of Defense.
The action now turns to the Senate, which has not moved on appropriations since giving up on the first step of the process in late March. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) has said earlier that his chamber would not work on budget allocations, which form the basis of the appropriations process, until there is a budget caps deal.
The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), which is co-funded and co-founded by OSA and SPIE, with partners the American Physics Society, IEEE Photonics Society, and Laser Institute of America, advocated strongly and successfully for the creation of the NQI, and now is working with lawmakers to fund quantum research and technology as envisioned in the Act. For more information, contact David Lang, Senior Director of Government Relations, at email@example.com.
New Speakers Announced for the OIDA Forum on Optics in Autonomy
Co-located with the OSA Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress and Sensors Expo
27 June 2019 - San Jose, CA, USA
Register now for the OIDA Forum on Optics in Autonomy on 27 June. This business development event is focused specifically on bridging optics and AV. Learn how you can capitalize on optics in autonomy, which is driving market segments such cars, trucks, delivery vehicles, campus shuttle buses, delivery drones, and more. This event will be an industry game-changer, with quality content and top-tier speakers.
See who's taking the stage!
View the program.
The OIDA Forum on Optics in Autonomy will be co-located with the Sensors Expo & Conference, which will host 300+ exhibitors on the Expo Floor. Your registration fee includes admission to the Sensors Expo Exhibit Hall and receptions for all conference days, but does not include access to the Sensors Expo Technical Sessions or to the OSA Optical Sensors & Sensing Congress.
Learn more and register now.
Going to Laser World of Photonics? Attend our NEW OIDA Networking Event!
Please join OSA President Ursula Gibson and OSA Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Rogan for a night of socializing and networking with your industry colleagues. This event will be held Sunday 23 June 2019 from 19:00 — 22:00 and registration is free and exclusive to OSA and OIDA members only.
OSA Chief Executive Officer
To RSVP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org before 13 June 2019. You may also send the names and emails of 2-3 colleagues interested in attending this event. An official confirmation with additional event details will be forwarded directly to you and your colleagues. We hope you can join us!
RSVP for OIDA Member Benefit Orientation on 10 July
RSVP for OIDA's member benefit overview orientation on 10 July at 13:00 EDT. This is an opportunity to learn about key membership benefits you and your company should be taking advantage of and explore how to maximize performance and grow your business.
Whether you have been an active member for years or you are new to OIDA — this orientation is a must-attend! Please feel free to share this with your colleagues. When you join OIDA, everyone at your organization becomes a member.
Technology Transfer Program Showcases New Innovations at CLEO
On 9 May CLEO's Technology Transfer Program brought together optics and photonics innovators and licensing experts for educational programming, networking and exhibit displays.
Thanks to all who participated!
Back Row (Left to Right): Eugene Cochran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA / Rick Plympton, Optimax Systems, Inc. USA / Sujatha Ramanujan, Nextcorps' Luminate, USA / Dan Christensen, TOPTICA Photonics AG, USA
Front Row (Left to Right): Kei May LAU, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong / Rachel Grange, ETH Zurich, Switzerland / Manish Kulkarni, Netra Systems, USA / Robert Mandra, RSM Advisors, USA
Max Perez, ColdQuanta, USA, accepting his award from Rick Plympton. Mr. Plympton is a
Technology Transfer Committee Member and Optimax Systems, Inc. was the sponsor of the event.
Now Available to OIDA Members: Slides from 7 May Market Update Dinner
OIDA held its second Market Update Dinner of 2019 on Tuesday 7 May in San Jose, CA, at CLEO. The Dinner was attended by 25 industry executives who engaged in timely discussions and valuable networking. Dr. Tom Hausken delivered an impactful market update presentation. View the slides from the presentation now.
Applied Industrial Optics Topical Meeting: View the Program and Register
8 - 10 July 2019, The Optical Society Headquarters, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
This year's OSA Applied Industrial Optics (AIO) program will provide real insight into the technology developments, best practices and strategies that will accelerate your organization and your career forward in 2019 and beyond. Discover why you should be part of this year's event. The searchable online technical program is now available online. View the Agenda of Sessions and abstracts for both invited and contributed presentations.
Attend and join professionals from diverse backgrounds who will gather and discuss photonics research, technology development, and commercialization. AIO creates an engaging multi-disciplinary program that encourages the sharing of ideas and generates cross-pollination across fields. Through workshops, tutorials, panel discussions and networking events, AIO gives you unprecedented access to industry experts and valuable insight into today's commercial climate.
Learn more and register by 10 June to save.
Last Chance: Laser Applications Conference (LAC) is Accepting Contributed Submissions for Poster Presentations
29 September — 2 October, Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
This 3-day meeting focuses on two main topic areas — Materials Processing and Applications for High Power Lasers. At LAC, you'll be immersed in an innovative learning environment that introduces new, groundbreaking information, offers insightful knowledge, showcases cutting-edge products, and engages your active participation in important debates and discussions. View the submission categories and submit by 12 June. Registration will be opening soon. Exhibit space is also available. Learn more and download the exhibitor prospectus.
Bernard J. Couillaud Prize Winner Announced
The OSA Foundation (OSAF) and OIDA Member Coherent, Inc., are pleased to announce David Carlson, a postdoctoral scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S.A., as the inaugural Bernard J. Couillaud Prize winner. Carlson received the award at CLEO: Laser Science to Photonic Applications, San Jose, Calif., U.S.A, 5-10 May 2019. Carlson's project aims to explore the development of the material tantala (Ta2O5) as a platform for next-generation nonlinear photonic components. The project goals include optimizing the device fabrication process and exploring the commercial potential for ultrafast tantala nanophotonics, ultimately making nonlinear optical tools available to new users around the world.
OIDA Presents at Stanford Student Chapter
On 16 May, OIDA Senior Analyst Tom Hausken presented an overview of the optics and photonics industry to the OSA student chapter at Stanford University, one of the most active chapters in the world. The presentation included a discussion of the modern view of innovation as compared to the more traditional "linear" view (i.e., one that originates in the research lab and terminates at the end product). Modern innovation also incorporates so-called open innovation practices. About 45 students and faculty attended the event.
Find the Perfect Job or Candidate at WORKinOPTICS.com, The Global Talent Hub for Optics & Photonics
As warmer days are on the horizon, the job market is also beginning to heat up. It's a perfect time to get a job or fill one. Many organizations are eager to lock in new hires before summer, when vacations often make it more difficult to efficiently move through the hiring process. Whether you're looking for a job or looking to fill one, WORKinOPTICS.com is your best global resource.
OIDA members receive 20 free job postings on WorkInOptics, 15% off additional job posting packages, and unlimited internship postings. With 3,102 average monthly visitors WORKinOPTICS.com is the place to find your next overachiever.
Call for Award Nominations
Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award - recognizes team technical achievements such as product engineering, process and software development, and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and furthering public appreciation of optical engineering. Submission Deadline: 10 July
Herbert Walther Award - recognizes distinguished contributions in quantum optics and atomic physics as well as leadership in the international scientific community. This award is co-presented by OSA and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG). Submission Deadline: 10 August Nominations should be submitted to DPG.
John Tyndall Award - recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions in any area of optical-fiber technology, including optical fibers themselves, the optical components used in fiber systems, as well as transmission systems and networks using fibers. This award is co-presented by OSA and IEEE Photonics Society. Submission Deadline: 10 August Nominations should be submitted to IEEE Photonics Society.
For a complete list of all OSA's Awards and Honors visit OSA.ORG/Awards.
Invitation to Join the OIDA Optics and Photonics Industry LinkedIn Group
Join 3,000+ of your colleagues in our OIDA Optics & Photonics Industry Network LinkedIn Group. This one-of-a-kind Forum for Industry lets you participate in discussions about cutting-edge issues. Extend your professional network. Exchange information about problems, ideas and solutions. Collaborate with experts in your field. Now is the perfect time to build a relationship with fellow optics and photonics professionals!
OIDA (OSA Industry Development Associates) Council
Thank you to the volunteers who oversee the programs and services available to the Industry Community.
• Claudio Mazzali,
Corning Research &
Development Corp, Chair
• Simin Cai,
Go!Foton, Chair Elect
• John Dexheimer,
LightWave Advisors, Inc.
• Turan Erdogan,
• Amy Eskilson,
• Christoph S. Harder,
• Inge Kabert,
• Frederick J. Leonberger,
EOvation Advisors LLC
• Debbie Wilson,
Lumentum Operations Inc.