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I am writing this column shortly before the Conference on Laser and Electro-Optics (CLEO) held at the start of May in San Jose. This venue is a new venue for CLEO, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and it will be interesting to see what impact the location will have on the meeting. The early indicators are auspicious: the number of submitted papers has increased and, in order to accommodate the best of them, the length of the conference day has been extended. Furthermore, the number of technical pre-registrations was significantly higher than at either the 2007 (Baltimore) and 2006 (Long Beach) meetings.
In reality three conferences are co-located in San Jose: CLEO itself, the conference on Quantum Electronics and Laser Science (QELS) and the conference on Photonic Applications Systems and Technologies (PhAST). PhAST is possibly the least prominent of these events, but is the conference experiencing the biggest changes.
Historically, PhAST has been well attended, but principally by CLEO/QELS attendees. One of the aims of PhAST is to have a broad appeal and attract attendees in its own right. I have had the privilege of being one of this year’s PhAST co-chairs, along with David Roh, Andrew Masters, and David Huff. As in previous years there are three parallel sessions, but this year one of them has been organized entirely by the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA). As a result two of the parallel sessions address product development while the OIDA session addresses business development.
The Product Development Sessions are
• Lasers and LED Displays
• High-Power Semiconductor Lasers
• Trends in High-Power Diode Lasers
• Lasers in Manufacturing
• Laser Applications in the Photovoltaic Market
The Business Development Sessions are
• Organic LED Technology for Lighting
• Business Growth for OLED Lighting
• Organic LEDs for Low Power Displays
• Organic Solar Cells
• Inorganic Solar Technology and Economics
• New Solar Technologies for Grid Parity
There is clearly some overlap, and hence synergy, between the two groups of topics, particularly in LEDs and photovoltaics, and it is therefore possible for attendees to cross between highly technical talks and business sessions addressing the same topics.
In my April column, I described how LEOS is developing a long term strategic plan, and that a Strategic Planning Workshop would be taking place at OFC. I view development and implementation of this plan as a key goal of my Presidency. I also believe LEOS can and should build activity in more application areas. As I write this column, the Strategic Plan has just been approved by the Board of Governors meeting at CLEO.
The goal for Technical Affairs is as follows
‘Photonics practitioners will consider that LEOS activities reflect the full scope of science, technology, and applications of photonics’
with the following objectives
1.Improve response time for identifying emerging photonic technologies.
2.Increase scope of LEOS topics into underrepresented but appropriate technical areas.
3.Increase the activities targeted at the photonics markets.
4. Increase cooperation with other disciplines that would benefit from photonics science and technology.
The changes introduced this year in the PhAST program directly address the main goal through all of the objectives, but particularly through objectives 3 and 4.
PhAST is strongly focused on applications that are market driven (so addressing objective 3), with a program intended to present the latest technologies and the context in which they are deployed in applications.
Addressing objective 4 is more challenging. In practice, increased co-operation with other disciplines implies developing relationships with other societies, a process that takes time. LEOS is at the center of a number of ‘joined up’ networks of societies. These networks include communications, displays, nanotechnology, biotechnology and biometrics, some of which have operated successfully for many years, with others, emerging only recently emerged. CLEO/QELS/PhAST falls in the former category and is owned and run by three co-sponsoring societies: LEOS, OSA and APS. The OIDA is involved in developing aspects of the PhAST program for the first time.
The OIDA involvement is bringing a completely new perspective to PhAST through the Business Development sessions. These sessions are aimed at developing an understanding of the entire product value chain, and developing roadmaps for the relevant industries going forward. This is being achieved through a mixture of presentations by senior managers and technologists followed by interactive panel sessions to develop further the ideas that emerge during the presentations.
The OIDA part of the program is furthermore focused on the emerging area of ‘green’ photonics. As well as resonating with the interests of LEOS, this also forms a link with IEEE as a whole, which has declared sustainable technologies a priority area. It is becoming clear that the photonics industry will provide many solutions for reducing environmental pollution and the world’s carbon footprint. These solutions include highly efficient solid-state lighting, effluent-free laser processing, new low energy display technologies and photovoltaic energy generation.
Other key parts of the program include the Power Lunch, organized by Milton Chang, and the PhAST/Laser Focus World Innovation Awards.
PhAST raises a number of questions for LEOS. The principal question is how readily the format could be used elsewhere. LEOS is already working with OIDA to explore extending the concept of matching technical and business sessions in a single workshop. LEOS is also actively working with other IEEE societies to identify more applications-focused topics that use photonics. A second point is that this year’s PhAST sessions are entirely invited, which is appropriate for certain meetings but clearly imposes limits on member participation. A third point is that there is no charge to attend PhAST. Many attendees will have registered for CLEO/QELS, but an intention of PhAST is to support the CLEO Exhibition by attracting walk-ins. Clearly having no registration fee is not an option for independent events. My belief is that we can develop a model to address applications focused topics that combines the LEOS core values of volunteer service, education, integrity, technical rigor and inclusiveness, and at the same time is sustainable.
All of these questions will be addressed by LEOS over the coming months. The ultimate aim of LEOS is to serve its members and the photonics community. Moving into more areas of application is one way of addressing this aim and I would welcome your views on how this can best be achieved.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the appeal I made in January where I invited you to recruit one new member each in 2008. As the middle of the year approaches, LEOS membership has started to grow for the first time in several years. This is excellent news, but there is still much that could be done. The best recommendation is a personal one – if you value LEOS membership, please spread the message to your colleagues and build a stronger LEOS community.

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