Archive for October 2013

Photonics: A Priority for New York and the Nation

October 23, 2013

From Tom Battley, Executive Director of New York Photonics

Excerpted from the October 22nd edition of The Hill

I am writing in response to Rep. Louise Slaughter’s  Oct. 10 op-ed, “Advancing American competitiveness by harnessing the power of light.”

In New York, home of the imaging “Capital of the World,” researchers, engineers and technicians are using optics and photonics, the science and application of light, to develop the next generation of many of the modern-day technologies that make our everyday lives possible. Think fiber optics, smartphone displays, digital cameras and solar energy, to name a few.battleyhs1

As Rep. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) so eloquently points out, great accomplishments have been made in discovering and developing advancements in photonics in New York, yet the United States as a whole has not kept pace with other countries in this fast-growing field. Consequently, our great state and nation have lost our competitive edge, and countless jobs, to our competitors overseas.

I was recently on Capitol Hill educating members of Congress about the National Photonics Initiative, a push by industry, academia and government to raise awareness about photonics and the impact of photonics on our everyday lives; to increase collaboration and coordination among U.S. industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields; and to drive U.S. funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining U.S. competitiveness and national security: in advanced manufacturing, communication and information technology, the fields of defense and national security, energy, and health and medicine.

In national security, photonics makes laser-guided weapons more accurate and provides lasers for missile defense. In energy, photonics provides renewable power sources, as well as optical systems to monitor wells in the oil and gas sector. In health and medicine, photonics is responsible for advances from laser eye surgery to CT scans. In communications and information technology, optics and photonics can continue the advances that have increased the capacity of the Internet by nearly 10,000-fold over the past two decades. And in advanced manufacturing, substantial job growth is possible in new and innovative areas of manufacturing that make use of high-power and low-cost lasers, as well as 3D printing.

In support of these photonics industries must be a well-trained and skilled workforce. Coordination is needed among existing programs across all levels of education, from secondary public school systems through community colleges and universities, along with re-training programs. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education should include a photonics curriculum in high school and at two-year institutions. Photonics-related engineering education programs are also needed, with a focus on interdisciplinary programs that bring mechanical engineering and materials science together with optics and photonics curricula. And, internship and apprenticeship opportunities are necessary to train students before they enter the workforce.

In photonics lies the future of many exciting and innovative technologies that will drive our local and national economy, create jobs and improve the health and safety of our citizen. I second the congresswoman’s call to support the mission of the National Photonics Initiative to make photonics a priority for not only New York, but for the nation.

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Rochester Leads The World In Optics

October 20, 2013

Last week Rochester once again demonstrated its importance in the optics and photonics global economy by hosting the SPIE Optifab meeting — North America’s largest exhibition of optical manufacturing and testing equipment and technology.hpsportrait18apr2011highres2.jpg

Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and co-sponsored by the APOMA (American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association), the event’s collaborators included the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC), New York Photonics (NYP), and other local and regional organizations.

Photonics — the science and application of light — is the technology that connects you with friends and family via the internet and your smartphone, enables your doctor to find the exact cells in your body that need treatment, keeps firefighters and soldiers safe, powers sustainable lighting and energy sources, and explores the universe.

And — in places such as Rochester — it creates jobs.

The global optics industry market is estimated at $500 billion, with 1.5 million jobs in the United States directly related to or enabled by optics and photonics technologies.

Rochester — aptly known as the optics, photonics, imaging, and display industry capital of the world — traditionally has been connected with a sizeable share of that. Just last weekend, the University of Rochester had a celebration to recognize the 150 companies started by approximately 115 alumni and faculty from the Institute of Optics.

While still strong, the Rochester OPID industry, like many U.S. tech industries, has been losing market share to countries that are investing more heavily and with more focus.

NYP and SPIE are members of a coalition of scientific and engineering societies leading a National Photonics Initiative (NPI) to help reverse that innovation deficit.

Keeping the momentum going is vital. As Tom Battley, NYP executive director, noted recently, if Rochester loses focus, “the lead we have enjoyed for so many years is ours to lose.”

Stahl is president-elect of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

National Photonics Initiative Fly-in Storms the Hill

October 10, 2013

Chris Collins’ office. L o R, Christopher Cotton (ASE Optics), Alan Evans (Corning), Jay Eastman (Lucid Technologies / retired), John Bruning (Corning / retired)

On Thursday, September 19th, RRPC representatives Tom Battley, John Bruning, Chris Cotton, Jay Eastman and Rick Plympton joined some fifty representatives from around the country in an “NPI Education Day” for members of the House and Senate in Washington D.C.

The event was organized by OSA and SPIE in order to inform and educate representatives in Washington about the importance of Optics, Photonics and Imaging to the nation.

Rochester representatives were awarded National Photonics Initiative badges for their high marks in understanding how important OPI is to Western New York, and the nation.


L to R Rick Plympton, Tom Battley, Christopher Cotton

Your team visited the offices of:

  • Chris Collins, New York 27th
  • Nita Lowey, New York 17th (downstate)
  • Dan Maffei, New York 24th
  • Carolyn Maloney, New York 12th (downstate)
  • Tom Reed, New York 23rd
  • Louise Slaughter, New York 25th (she really gets it!)
  • New York State Senator Kristin Gillibrand

Contrary to rumors, we had nothing to do with the current government shutdown.

Advancing American competitiveness by harnessing the power of light

October 10, 2013

Even during a government hostage crisis, Representative Louise Slaughter, New York’s 25th, gets it about the National Photonics Initiative

Kodak. Xerox. Bausch & Lomb. Over the course of the 20th century, these “big three” companies have made America — and more specifically Rochester, N.Y. — the optics, photonics, imaging and display (OPID) capital of the world.Louise small

In doing so, each harnessed the power of light to improve the lives of countless people around the globe. Eastman Kodak popularized photography. Xerox invented the photocopier. Bausch & Lomb revolutionized vision care.

Today, researchers, engineers and technicians have moved beyond cameras and copiers and are now harnessing the power of light to advance manufacturing, telecommunications, medicine, alternative energy, military surveillance, space exploration and much more.

OPID companies in New York provide more than 25,000 jobs and produce more than $5 billion of manufactured goods annually. In Rochester alone there are more than 60 OPID companies within a 20-mile radius, including world leaders in satellites and Internet fiber, as well as many small- and medium-sized companies. The number of OPID companies in the state is a direct reflection of the talent being developed at New York’s top academic institutions, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

As we look for ways to keep America competitive in this new century, the OPID industry and the research that supports it is a vital asset that the United States must nurture and protect.

I recently had the opportunity to address the annual meeting of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, and during my remarks I expressed my deep concern about federal budget cuts that handcuff scientific research. I have been a vocal critic of the sequester, a budget gimmick that has slashed research funding, prompting many scientists to leave the U.S. government due to job uncertainty and ushering in a “dark age” for science in America. It is penny wise and pound foolish to balance our budget at the expense of the researchers and entrepreneurs who are creating the industries and jobs of the future.

If we want to ensure that the next advancements in the field come from the United States and not from China or India, we need support for workforce training, technical innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our region took an important step in the right direction last year when several academic institutions and industry groups partnered on a winning $2 million federal grant application — one of only 10 in the country — that is already having an impact on OPID workforce training, technical innovation and business support in the Rochester area.

Over my career, I have worked hard to attract high-tech companies to Rochester, to support research funding for the University of Rochester’s laser lab and to assist our existing OPID companies, because I know that the future of our economy lies in advanced manufacturing and research and development in fields like OPID.

Together, we can develop these exciting and innovative technologies that will drive our local and national economy, create jobs and improve the health and safety of our citizens. Join me in making photonics not just a priority for New York, but for the nation.

Slaughter has represented New York’s 25th Congressional District since 1987. She is the ranking member on the Rules Committee.

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SPIE Optifab readies for a big week in Rochester

October 4, 2013

More exhibitors, strong conference, top training courses in international event
The largest optical fabrication event in North America, this year’s SPIE Optifab will feature a bigger exhibition alongside its robust technical and training programs. National Photonics Initiative supporter Rep. Louise Slaughter will open the 165-company exhibition during the event later this month in Rochester.

SPIE Optifab, the largest optical fabrication event in North America, will return to Rochester, New York, next week with a bigger exhibition than in recent years and technical updates and training on innovative technologies with strong commercial potential. Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and APOMA, the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association, the event will run 14-17 October in the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-New York) will join exhibition chairs James Sydor of Sydor Optics and Richard Nasca Corning Corp. to open the three-day exhibition on Tuesday 15 October.

A strong supporter of the optics industry and the advanced manufacturing capabilities enabled by photonics, Slaughter was on hand last month for a presentation on the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) at the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster annual meeting. The NPI is a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government seeking to raise awareness of photonics and the field’s impact on the economy, jobs and technological advance.

“Optifab is the only place in the world that you can come to hear nearly 100 technical papers on the latest optical fabrication and metrology advancements — and at the same event, on the exhibition floor you can see the newest and most advanced optical fabrication equipment and metrology instruments,” Sydor said. “In today’s world economy we have to be aware of the most cost-effective manufacturing techniques to be able to compete globally. If you are in the optical manufacturing business and not attending Optifab, you are missing the boat.”

The 165 exhibiting companies include key industry suppliers such as Mahr Federal, TRIOPTICS, Universal Photonics, Xonox Technology and Zygo Corporation, with displays and demonstrations of optical and optomechanical components, materials, systems and devices, laser system components, optical test and metrology systems, thin-film coatings and more.

Large equipment manufacturers will have a major presence on the exhibit floor as well, with companies including OptoTech Optical Machinery, Schneider Optical Machines, QED Technologies, OptiPro Systems and Satisloh North America providing a close-up look at their latest products.

Approximately 100 technical talks will cover classical and advanced optical manufacturing technologies, on topics such as grinding and polishing, optical fabrication of freeform surfaces, metrology, optical materials, cleaning and coating, optical design, optical engineering, meter-class optics and molded optics.

Two plenary talks — open to all attendees — are scheduled:

  • “Disruptive innovation: the story of the first digital camera,” by Steven Sasson, Retired, Eastman Kodak
  • “NASA funding for optical fabrication and testing technology development,” by Philip Stahl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Conference chairs are Julie Bentley of the University of Rochester and Matthias Pfaff of OptoTech Opikmaschinen.

Training opportunities include 12 professional development courses on optical fabrication and manufacturing, aspheric optics, metrology, optomechanics, thin films and other topics. New this year are courses on subcontracting custom optics, and optical materials, fabrication and testing for the optical engineer.

Panel discussions will delve into industry topics including the future of metrology, export control reform and compliance and getting hired.

Conference proceedings will be available for distribution on CD at the event, and published online in the SPIE Digital Library.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves more than 235,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

Optics group will switch from one private equity owner to another, as Candover continues its asset sell-off.

October 3, 2013

Qioptiq, the optics company that brought together some of the industry’s best-known brands under a single umbrella group, is set to be sold to the diversified US-based Excelitas Technologies.

The two companies have signed a “definitive agreement” that will see Excelitas become home to the technologies developed by the likes of Linos Photonics, Point Source, Spindler & Hoyer, Pilkington and others.


Qioptiq Press Release Sept 30 2013

Breakthrough in Silicon Photonics Could Mean Super Speedy Electronics: Light, Not Wires

October 2, 2013

There’s a pair of breakthroughs when it comes to the field of silicon photonics. Scientists have managed to develop a new method that could allow for the trajectory of experimental improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago, allowing for increasingly faster electronics.

Story Here