Archive for February 2014

Open Letter to the Leadership Team at the City of Rochester

February 26, 2014

For twenty years many of us have worked together to get the Rochester community to recognize what the world already recognizes: the importance of optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) to our region. We are recognized around the world for this strategic advantage. The lion’s share of this region’s patents are for applications in OPI.

We now have the endorsements of Louise Slaughter, Kristin Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer and points of contact within NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), EDA (Economic Development Administration), Commerce, DoD (Department of Defense) and OSTP (White House Office of Science & Technology Policy). We are in a national competition to establish a center for Optics, Photonics and Imaging.

If the (Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership) IMCP application from this community does not expressly recognize and attempt to leverage our OPI strategic advantage it will be a blunder. The (points of contact) POC’s in Washington DC expect to see OPI highlighted in any applications coming from Rochester. We have been cultivating this for years.

I know that you are all busy. I have attached some resources that may help you recognize what I am talking about. Thanks for your attention and best of luck! The RRPC is willing to help in any way that we can.

-Tom Battley

Mayor Lovely Warren was sent a copy of this letter on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.
This communication was emailed to the RRPC Board and members of the Mayor Lovely Warren leadership team the same day.
Included were:

Leonard Redon, Deputy Mayor
Jeremy Clooney, Chief of Staff
Allen Williams, Director of Special Projects
Delmonize Smith, Commisioner, Department of Neighborhood and Business Development

Fusion energy milestone reported by Livermore NIF scientists

February 13, 2014

Fuel gain exceeding unity in an inertially confined fusion implosion.
From the Journal,  Nature

Ignition is needed to make fusion energy a viable alternative energy source, but has yet to be achieved. A key step on the way to ignition is to have the energy generated through fusion reactions in an inertially confined fusion plasma exceed the amount of energy deposited into the deuterium–tritium fusion fuel and hotspot during the implosion process, resulting in a fuel gain greater than unity. Here we report the achievement of fusion fuel gains exceeding unity on the US National Ignition Facility using a ‘high-foot’ implosion method, which is a manipulation of the laser pulse shape in a way that reduces instability in the implosion. These experiments show an order-of-magnitude improvement in yield performance over past deuterium–tritium implosion experiments. We also see a significant contribution to the yield from α-particle self-heating and evidence for the ‘bootstrapping’ required to accelerate the deuterium–tritium fusion burn to eventually ‘run away’ and ignite.


Washington Post article with cool photo gallery here:

World’s Largest Solar Plant Opens In California

February 13, 2014

All Three Units of 392 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Now Delivering Solar Power to California’s Electric Grid

At full capacity, the facility’s trio of 450-foot high towers produces a gross total of 392 megawatts (MW) of solar power, enough electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.

Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 7 feet high and 10 feet wide. Control them with computers to focus the Sun’s light to the top of 459-foot towers, where water is turned into steam to power turbines. You have the world’s biggest solar power plant.


Storage is seen as a key technology in the next chapter of the solar story. Whereas before a primary motivation for installing a PV system was the promise of a healthy financial return offered through generous feed-in tariffs, as those tariffs begin to be withdrawn and electricity prices continue to rise, that narrative is changing; now self-consumption of PV-generated electricity is becoming more attractive as a means of offsetting rising electricity bills.

Central to that concept taking hold is energy storage, which allows PV users to keep hold of electricity at times of peak generation during the day and use it at times when grid electricity is more costly.

But storage equipment is also currently expensive and will require further technological innovation before becoming an economically viable prospect for the average PV user. As it led the way with the feed-in tariff, so Germany is once again blazing a trail, this time with a subsidy programme to encourage the take-up of PV storage. Industry observers hope that greater deployment of energy storage will drive its cost down, in the same way subsidisation of PV has helped make it more affordable. This page brings together our coverage of the evolution of the PV storage market. (PV-Tech)

Press release here:

Great photos here:

New York Photonics Companies Represented 6% of Exhibitors at Photonics West 2014

February 12, 2014

SPIE’s Photonics West, arguably the largest photonics conference in the world at 21,000 attendees this year, had representation among its exhibitors of  roughly 18% of the world’s optic and photonics market.

That market, estimated at roughly $480 Billion by SPIE, is the foundation for technological advances in manufacturing, metrology, nanotechnology, semiconductors, biomedical instruments, consumer electronics, military / defense, lasers, research, automotive, mapping, geospatial imaging, entertainment, unmanned systems and every other industry of the 21st century.PW2014

New York State companies numbered 76 out of the 1,246 exhibitors this year, or 6% of exhibitors from over a dozen nations.

Independent research by University of Rochester’s CEIS says that in New York’s Finger Lakes Region the industry accounts for 75 Companies, 17,000 employees and over $3 Billion in annual sales.  SME’s in the regional OPI industry have enjoyed 5% – 7% annual growth since 2011 and currently employ ~2600 people.

1 in 14 households are supported by wage earners in the region’s OPI industry.

On Wednesday, January 29th, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at MCC and focused on Rochester’s tremendous future in Optics and Photonics.  The next day, Mike Mandina, founder and President of Optimax Systems (Ontario County) joined Biden in Washington DC to discuss the National Skills Coalition with President Barack Obama.

Exelis delivers primary payload for GOES-R weather satellite

February 5, 2014

Exelis (NYSE: XLS) has delivered the primary payload for the future Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) weather satellite. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), which provides high-resolution imagery of environmental conditions, has arrived in Denver where it will be integrated into its GOES-R satellite for a scheduled 2016.

The completed ABI is the first of four satellite payloads Exelis is building for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The second instrument is entering thermal vacuum testing in Rochester, N.Y., where it will be exposed to harsh space-like conditions as the second part of its environmental testing process.

“Delivery for integration into the satellite is an important milestone because it moves NOAA closer to providing weather forecasters with information and tools to improve the accuracy and lead time of severe storms,” said Eric Webster, vice president of the Exelis Geospatial Systems weather business area. “As the foundation of NOAA’s severe weather forecasting capability, the ABI will provide better insight into the makeup of storms, higher-resolution images and will transmit data five times faster than today’s capability.”

The ABI is part of the next generation GOES-R series program jointly managed by NASA and NOAA. Developed out of Exelis core competencies in weather and image science, ABI technology reflects the company’s focus and expertise in the area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and analytics.

The GOES-R series of satellites will be positioned 22,300 miles above Earth providing 24-hour-a-day coverage of the Western Hemisphere with visible and infrared imagery. The National Weather Service relies on data from NOAA’s geosynchronous satellites to accurately forecast and monitor severe weather like tornadoes and hurricanes, providing the very images people see on television and Internet reports. GOES-R will improve severe weather data in addition to data used for monitoring rainfall precipitation, wildfires and volcanic ash. NOAA estimates the GOES-R series program will save $4.6 billion in economic losses with improved forecasts and information.

Exelis has built every imager and sounder payload for NOAA’s GOES satellites since 1994 and was awarded the contract to build the ABI instruments in 2004. Exelis is also on contract to build similar instruments for Japan and South Korea. In total, Exelis has built more than 60 meteorological payloads for the U.S. government and international customers during the past 40 years.

Source : Exelis

Optimax Systems’ Plympton on Executive Perspectives Panel at Photonics West

February 5, 2014

Top executives, representing different aspects of the marketplace, shared their insight and hard-fought lessons regarding trends and opportunities in optics and photonics.

Optimax CEO, Rick Plympton shared 2013 experiences, including strong orders from laser systems, particularly HPL’s, and significant medical and semiconductor business. Plympton shared optimism about what he sees as necessary pruning (sequestration) of government business, which he anticipates will result in new growth in other government program opportunities.

Weathering the last few years has required extraordinary skills and experience to successfully reset goals and allocate resources. The discussion helped attendees understand the current environment better and offered perspectives not often shared in the OPI spotlight.