12 October 2020 – 16 October 2020 OSA Virtual Event - Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 04:00)
02 July 2020

This OSA Meeting will be held as scheduled in an all-virtual, web conference format.

Technical sessions will be presented live from the Eastern Daylight Time Zone (EDT) with a recorded archive available later for on-demand viewing. The exhibition has been cancelled. There will be no cost for attendees to participate. Speakers presenting a contributed oral talk or poster will pay a US$ 100 publishing fee. [more]

Innovation Challenge

Innovation Challenge

Deadline: 10 September 2020

The Innovation Challenge seeks to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions and major shifts potentially enabled by optics and photonics.  Challenge submissions should highlight innovative solutions to topic specific challenges.

The Challenge will be open to students, early-career professionals* and their advisors. The Challenge problems are unique to each congress and are determined by a subcommittee. *OSA defines early career professionals as those within five years of leaving academic study and starting a full time career.

Individuals or teams are invited to submit concepts based on the unique challenge in the form of a 50 to 100‐word description and accompanying visuals (pictures, charts, graphs, system mock-ups or demos) highlighting the novelty, originality and feasibility of the concept.

Submissions will be evaluated by a committee of Congress leadership with up to two finalists per question selected to attend the meeting and present a 3‐minute synopsis of their concept. 

One winner per question will be chosen based on popular vote via the meeting mobile app and announced at the end of the Congress.   Winners will receive a 3-year OSA membership. The winner also receives a $500 prize, with the runner-up receiving a $250 prize.

Key Criteria

  • Compliance: is the idea submission complete and does it comply with the rules of the challenge?
  • Novelty: does the idea describe a novel approach to providing a solution?
  • Originality: how original is the proposed technology or use of existing technology?
  • Relevance: How well does the idea relate to the topic and provide a solution aligned with the goals of this challenge?
  • Feasibility: how likely can the idea be prototyped?

For questions, please contact cstech@osa.org

All fields are required.


Question #1:

Compact Laser Sources Challenge Problem

The laser community continuously strives to develop robust laser sources at different wavelength ranges. A number of solid-state technologies such as powerful laser diodes, CW or Q-switched fibre lasers, or diode-pumped solid-state lasers allowed the manufacturing of efficient and powerful sources at specific wavelengths. However, there are numerous industrial and defense applications that are still waiting for suitable solutions with higher powers, better efficiency, or increased robustness to shock, vibration and challenging environmental conditions.

The compact laser sources challenge problem is to propose a novel concept, technology or system for improving results in one of the 5 categories below:  

  • Efficiency: Ideas focused on improving the overall efficiency of a laser source.
  • Robustness: Ideas focused on improving the design of a laser source so as to increase its robustness, namely its insensitivity to temperature, shock, vibration and alignment.
  • Output power: Ideas focused on increasing the power output of a laser source.
  • Tunability: Ideas focused on increasing the ability of the laser to change its operating wavelength.

Beam quality: Ideas focused on increasing the optical quality (shape, distribution and spectrum) of the output beam.


Question #2:

Low-coherence high-power THz Source Problem

The current problem relates to THz wave generation for industrial applications.   For imaging, in most cases, a spatially incoherent but bright source is preferable to a laser source to avoid artifacts caused by the spatial or temporal coherence.  If such a high-power and bright source is not available, strategies are required to reduce the coherence of the laser source, a non-trivial problem in the THz range.  Most available THz lasers do not have enough power or are too expensive or bulky (SWaP issues).   Alternatively, imaging techniques may be developed to use or exploit the source coherence. 

The Low-coherence high-power THz Source Problem is to propose a novel concept, technology or system for improved results in one of the 4 categories below:  

  • Higher power (in the W range)
  • Strategies for breaking the spatial and/or temporal coherence
  • High brightness incoherent laser source
  • Strategies for exploiting the source coherence in imaging applications


Question #3:

High Power Spatial Optical Beam Control Problem

The development of laser sources with increasingly high output power comes, most of the time, at the expense of beam quality.  Improper thermal management and intensity-dependent non-linear effects, among others, contribute to the degradation of the spatial (intensity and wavefront) and spectral (broadening, shift) characteristics of the produced beam.

At the same time, there is a significant requirement for precise control and tailoring of a high-power beam profile. Industrial applications often need a specific spatial beam profile so as to achieve the desired effect on the target material. Defense applications require extremely precise beam steering abilities along with dynamic spatial profile control to compensate for atmospheric turbulence. Finally, coherent beam combination, often used to achieve good beam quality through the use of multiple fibre laser sources, also need an accurate spatial phase control of each laser source to as to yield a high-quality overall beam profile. As a result, there a pressing need for better technologies allowing precise and rapid spatial tailoring of high-power laser beams with minimal losses.

The high-power spatial optical beam control problem is to propose a novel concept, technology or system for improving results in one of the 5 categories below:  

  • Power tolerance: Ideas focused on improving the ability of a high-power spatial beam tailoring system to handle significant average powers.
  • Beam: Ideas focused on developing large area high power spatial beam tailoring system.
  • Speed: Ideas focused on improving the response speed of a beam control system.
  • Tunability: Ideas focused on allowing the high-power spatial beam tailoring system to yield any desired profile.
  • Cost and reliability: Ideas focused on improving the reliability and lowering cost acquisition and maintenance cost of a high-power spatial beam tailoring system.

Confirm career status for challenge delineation:

Challenge Problem Addressed:


Supporting Documentation

Upload concepts/solutions and up to 5 accompanying visuals using the format 'Lastname_Firstname_FILE-DESCRIPTION'. Please combine files as appropriate and possible.

Highly recommended forms of accompanying visuals include: 3-minute video presentation and a summary slide; additional materials can include: videos, pictures, charts, graphs, system mock-ups or demos) highlighting the novelty, originality and feasibility of the concept.

Accepted File Types: PDF, MS Word (doc, docx), PowerPoint (ppt, pptx), Excel (xls, xlsx, xlsm) or a video posted on YouTube. Videos should not be uploaded using the 'Upload' buttons. Videos posted on YouTube can be set to Unlisted or Public. Do not set the privacy setting to Private.

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