The 100-Year View of Photonics, Part 1—The Century of Most Rapid Growth
OSA's centennial offers OIDA an opportunity to take a long view of our market and its impact on society. Optics and photonics has grown from a small passive optics industry over a century ago, when agriculture was still the largest economic sector, to production worth over $400 billion per year today. And it's still growing, albeit more slowly.
The figure illustrates the 1000-fold growth in global laser sales alone, since its commercialization over 50 years ago. The sales represent a wide range of applications, most of them only small segments by themselves, but additive and growing with the global economy.
A new book by economist Robert Gordon suggests that five great inventions powered economic growth for the century from 1870 to 1970, a one-time event that is unlikely to be repeated on the same scale. Could Gordon's perspective also apply to optics and photonics?
In fact, 7 major developments in optics and photonics expanded the market, and gave individuals previously limited to local community interactions access to a flatter, globalized economy and a "24/7" society.
Optics and photonics enable many more applications that are also important, but not as transformative. The largest single market segment for lasers today is for sheet metal cutting tools, and it is still growing. After decades of growth, photovoltaic energy generation has come into its own. Meanwhile, the optical storage market has already peaked since its first demonstration in 1972.
- Electric lighting transformed society to one operating 24 hours a day. It started with the incandescent bulb in the 19th century, and continues to improve with innovations in LEDs and lighting design.
- Displays moved entertainment inside the home, collapsed distances, and now connect people anytime, anywhere in the world. The cathode ray tube appeared first, and was later displaced by flat panel displays. Innovations continue in size and cost, OLEDs, heads-up displays, and virtual and augmented reality.
- Fiber optic communications wasn't the first technology to enable global communications—that occurred in 1858 with the first trans-Atlantic telegram. But innovations in fiber, semiconductor lasers, optical amplifiers, and WDM made long-distance communication more affordable, largely eliminating the need for satellite switching, reaching into the home, and inside data centers, where a vast web of interconnected glass and copper links enable search engines and social networks.
- Cameras and imaging give power to anyone, anywhere to capture photos and videos, bringing the world closer, but also allowing us to monitor one other. Compact and low-cost CCD and CMOS image sensors, which substituted for photochemical film cameras and vidicon tubes, are now ubiquitous and automatic. Electronic imaging also brings substantial improvements to medicine (digital radiography, ophthalmology, endoscopy), industrial processes (machine vision, metrology, spectroscopy), satellites (remote sensing), and security (night vision and surveillance).
- Microlithography optics enable all of the above by using lamps, UV lasers, and precision optics in patterning and inspection tools to manufacture microelectronics. The optics are so sophisticated that next generation tools cost as much as $100 million each.
- Deep science projects combine improvements in laser science, imagers and image processing to allow us to test particle theory, send back pictures from Pluto, peer back toward the Big Bang, and measure gravity waves. This is one of the most transformative accomplishments of all: understanding the universe and our place in it.
- Vision correction is not just vital, it's a development that's so transformative that it's cliché, changing billions of lives, spanning eyeglasses to LASIK surgery, and diagnostics like optical coherence tomography.
Are the biggest transformations behind us? In a future newsletter, we will look forward to the opportunities of the next 100 years. (Note the emerging "S" curve shape of the laser sales in the figure, it will appear again.) For another version of this article, see here.
Ever Wondered about Google Fiber?
Ever wondered about Google Fiber? How is it in Google's interest to install fiber to municipalities where the incumbent carriers don't? We wondered. And now it seems that Google is wondering as well.
Google has been installing optical fiber into neighborhoods in select cities, where it can provide a substantial improvement in bandwidth over the existing alternatives, such as that provided by AT&T or Comcast. While these installations serve as test beds for Google, much like Google Glass did, Google seems unlikely to want to become an infrastructure provider, particularly a regulated one. The unofficial explanation is that it is prodding its competitors to provide gigabit-speed Internet access to help promote Google's core business (such as search).
But installing fiber is expensive. So expensive, in fact, that the incumbent providers think very carefully about installing it, which is why it's not already installed everywhere. Overinvesting into crowded markets can lead to the sort of Telecom Bubble that we experienced in the late 1990s. And Google wasn't likely to invest into poor, underserved neighborhoods. Then there's also all that pesky customer service required for residential users. Google dodged this by going into neighborhoods and offering a one-time deal to potential customers. Google only had to go into the neighborhood once, unlike the incumbents, who have to make a "truck roll" every time a customer wants to buy their service. And if things didn't work out, Google could recover some losses by selling the fiber network to AT&T.
And what about the whole premise of gigabit service? Contrary to popular belief, even heavy residential users today consume only 10-20 Mbps at a time, thanks to efficient compression techniques. Services that promise 100 Mbps or more, including Google Fiber, are usually shared with other users, and often deliver less than the competition during peak periods. True, dedicated gigabit service to a single user would be way underutilized—a poor investment. (Heavier commercial users might need such levels of bandwidth, but are likely to locate in or near a central office and contract separately with the provider.)
Google seemed unconcerned about this. It's not Google's only "lofty" project: Project Loon is still ongoing. It helps that Alphabet (Google's owner) has a net profit margin over 20%. Many have speculated that Google, in its youthful exuberance, just didn't understand how the "last mile" actually works.
Now Google is reconsidering its strategy, suspending some plans and considering wireless instead of fiber. Google is not alone; Facebook is rolling out its Terragraph wireless access system and making it available through its Telecom Infra Project (TIP).
Many have speculated that Google, in its youthful exuberance, just didn't understand how the "last mile" actually works. Maybe Google thought that it could run circles of fiber around stodgy incumbent service providers. Maybe it fell for the old "if you build it they will come" myth. Or maybe Google Fiber is going the way of Google Glass—it's been a nice beta test that served its purpose and now Google is ready to move on.
Recent Advocacy wins in Florida
The Florida center ICAMR—the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research—has been busy building a facility and winning partners for photonics R&D. ICAMR is aiming at clean room fabrication of novel materials for smart sensors. Some of its recent efforts are listed here:
OIDA looks forward to more wins for the photonics community in Florida. OIDA is a non-voting board member of the Florida Photonics Consortium, the cluster representing Florida photonics companies.
- ICAMR was among 10 selected to submit a final proposal for a NIST manufacturing institute, called ISIMM. This is the first open-topic competition managed by NIST. OIDA participated in a "Red Team" review and contributed a letter of support for this institute.
- ICAMR is a partner in a winning NIST institute led by MIT for textile sensors, called "smart fibers." The institute, announced in April 2016, will address wearable military, medical, and other commercial applications. Called the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), it will have a total investment valued at $317 million, with $29 million committed by the University of Central Florida.
- ICAMR was also a finalist for NIST's integrated photonics institute competition that OIDA contributed to, and which was awarded to AIM Photonics in July 2015.
- ICAMR announced on July 8 that IMEC, the Belgian semiconductor R&D institute, will locate a design center at ICAMR. It plans to have 10 staff by the end of this year, growing to as many as 100 in 5 years.
- The central Florida region has many public development programs, and OIDA has discussed specific federal economic development grants with Florida officials.
Welcome New Industry Members
Top 5 Reasons to Attend the New OSA Laser Applications Conference
Get the Latest from Leading Authorities Including:
Learn more about the conference and exhibition, which will take place 30 October — 3 November 2016 in Boston, MA, USA.
- New all invited speaker format for industry—hear from thought leaders in industrial applications.
- Network with both scientific and industrial leaders in the laser field.
- Strong program focus on Materials Processing and High Intensity Lasers.
- Enhanced exhibition with over 70 companies.
- Executive Forum—your key opportunity to hear from leaders from the industrial side of laser applications.
OIDA Funding Accelerator Speed Meetings: SBIR/STTR
The OIDA Funding Accelerator Speed Meetings: SBIR/STTR focusing on optics and photonics funding, will be held in Washington, DC on 17 November 2016. This event will give U.S. companies with less than 500 employees an opportunity to meet one-on-one with program officers from multiple U.S. federal agencies, all in one place, in one day — minimizing your time investment and increasing your chances for new government funding.
This OSA event will give you an insider perspective on what agencies are looking to fund; as well as provide you with up-to-date information on each agency's SBIR/STTR funding process, and how you can enhance your probability of success. In addition, the event will help government agencies better understand what OSA Industry Development Associates Members can offer and how the optics and photonics technologies can help them meet their goals. For more information and to secure your company's reservation, please e-mail OSA Director of Corporate Membership, Andrew Dougherty at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Defense Research Announcement
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced that a solicitation will soon be issued for the Extreme Optics and Imaging (EXTREME) program. The initiative is based on the potential to develop optical properties from metallic and dielectric "metamaterials", scattering surfaces and volumes, holographic structures, and diffractive elements. These would break the standard "laws" of reflection and refraction for optics. DARPA anticipates funding three technical challenge areas that will stimulate disciplinary convergence. Two teams will be based on materials engineering concepts, and one on modeling and design. DARPA will host a proposers day September 1. Read More: DARPA Press Release
OSA Light the Future Speaker Series at FiO
Frontiers in Optics Conference & Exhibition, Rochester, NY, USA
Thursday, 20 October, 11:00 — 13:30
OSA Light the Future Speaker Series features Michio Kaku, futurist and theoretical physicist, City College of New York, with Sir Peter L. Knight, emeritus professor, Imperial College, London, OSA Fellow, 2004 President, and Nobel Laureates who will ignite the future with their predictions on the next century of optics.
Join OSA as we celebrate our 100th anniversary with Light The Future speaker and science advocate Michio Kaku. Imagine self-driving cars, 3D printing and a billion pixel camera. One hundred years ago these inventions were unthinkable. Yet today, researchers and industry leaders around the globe are perfecting such innovations that once were the realm of science fiction. Dr. Kaku will share his vision of what discoveries lay ahead. For inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
For a complete list of special events at FiO, visit frontiersinoptics.com
Changes to WORKinOPTICS
We would like to alert you to a change in the way you access WORKinOPTICS.com. Beginning 10 August 2016 you need to have an OSA account to sign in to WORKinOPTICS.com. If you do not have an OSA account, go to Create Account and enter your WORKinOPTICS.com email address and follow the steps to create a new account.
If you have questions or need assistance, contact OSA customer service at custserv@OSA.org or call us +1 202.416.1907 (worldwide) or 800.766.4672 (US/Canada). OSA Customer Service is available from 8:30 to 18:00 (EDT, UTC-4).
Take advantage of your OIDA Member benefit of 20 free job postings now. Over 60,000 professionals use WORKinOPTIC. Post your job openings — viewed by an average of 645 job seekers. Search and recruit from more than 1,800 qualified job seekers - nearly 75% of whom hold a masters degree or higher. Visit WORKinOPTICS today.
Shine a Spotlight on Your New Company's Technology in OFC's New START UP Pavilion
The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC) will recognize innovative technology startups who are positioned to make a future impact on the industry. The OFC START UP Pavilion will showcase cutting edge optics and photonics entrepreneurs to the industry's most iconic companies and its most prestigious audience of over 13,000 professionals from around the globe. Deadline to apply is 15 September 2016. Learn more.
Submit Your Paper to OFC 2017
Don't miss this opportunity to present your work at OFC, the world's largest conference in telecom and data center network technology. Join colleagues from OIDA companies who presented contributed papers in 2016 such as Cisco, Finisar and Fujitsu plus many others including ADVA Optical Networking, Arista Networks, Juniper Networks and Microsoft just to name a few. Topic categories D1, S1 and N1 represent the nearer term focus of the conference and cover areas such as network architecture, design and planning, installation of facilities and deployment of services. The deadline for submissions is 11 October 2016.
Have You Read the Latest Engineering & Lab Notes from Applied Optics?
Engineering and Laboratory Notes (E&L Notes), routinely published in Applied Optics, are intended to provide engineers and technicians with a venue to highlight laboratory techniques and hands-on skills required for the design, analysis, fabrication, integration, alignment, and measurement of optical components and systems.
Recently published E&L Notes include:
For more information on E&L Notes, read this editorial by Editor Brian Monacelli. Applied Optics continues to seek E&L Notes to publish. Highlight your company's innovative techniques and submit yours today.
- Rapid measurement of spatial light distribution of a short-arc xenon flash lamp by Youquan Zhao, Dexia Guo, Xiao Liu, Lingli Wang, Nan Jiang, and Xianquan Wang
- Visual and instrumental correlation of sparkle by the magnitude estimation method by Omar Gómez, Esther Perales, Elísabet Chorro, Valentín Viqueira, and Francisco M. Martínez-Verdú
- Development of an optical microscopy system for automated bubble cloud analysis by Daniel J. Wesley, Daniel T. W. Toolan, Stuart A. Brittle, Jonathan R. Howse, and William B. Zimmerman
- Collimated focal ratio degradation testing for highly multiplexed fiber systems—an improvement to a standard test by Daniel Finstad, Edward Wishnow, Claire Poppett, Martin Sirk, Jerry Edelstein, Steve Gibson, Geoff Marcy, and Andrew Howard
Call for Nominations — OSA Awards & Honors
Help OSA celebrate and recognize accomplishments in the field through an award nomination.
Nominations are due 1 October 2016.
OSA proudly presents the following awards that specifically honor the achievements of engineers, business leaders, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs:
- Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize — Recognizing significant research accomplishments in the field of optical engineering.
- David Richardson Medal — Recognizing those who have made significant contributions to optical engineering, primarily in the commercial and industrial sector.
- Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award — Recognizing an individual or group who has had a significant impact on the global optics and photonics community or an individual or group from the optics and photonics community who has had a significant impact on society as a whole stemming from non-research oriented activities. The award seeks to recognize achievement/s that would not be eligible for a traditional OSA award or medal. Nominees do not need to be OSA members or active in the field.
- Edwin H. Land Medal — Recognizing pioneering work empowered by scientific research to create inventions, technologies, and products. This award is co-sponsored with the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.
Want to get even more insight and access to great discussions about optics and photonics?
Join 3,000 of your colleagues in our 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!
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|OSA Industry Development Associates Committee
Thank you to the volunteers who oversee the programs and services available to the Industry Community.
| • Alex Fong,
Gooch & Housego, Chair
• Jean-Michel Pelaprat,
Figulus, Past Chair
• Henrik Skov
• Simin Cai,
|• John Dexheimer,
• James Fisher,
• Fred Leonberger,
• Claudio Mazzali,
| • Mike Mielke,
• Martin Seifert,
• Costel Subran,
• Christoph Harder,
Harder and Partner,