IEEE Photonics or LEOS conference preview

“Visualizing stem cells in 3D”, perhaps from Peyton Manning or Dick Cheney, is a paper that actually connects to the headlines.


By Michael Watts

“Visualizing stem cells in 3D”, perhaps from Peyton Manning or Dick Cheney, is a paper that actually connects to the headlines. University of Maryland researchers will detail a non-destructive imaging technology they have developed to enable better three-dimensional viewing of fluorescent-labeled stem cells within a tissue scaffold. The existing alternative uses cryogenic sections — insert Cheney joke here.

NFL Labor  Football

An unusual opportunity to insert a sports star in a technical blog ! Peyton Manning receives stem cell therapy in an effort to avoid another surgery on his neck, but the procedure isn’t effective, and the Colts QB requires his third neck surgery in 19 months. From AP

This, and many other topical, but not so eye catching, papers will be discussed at the annual IEEE Photonics conference is being held Oct. 9-13 in Arlington, VA, or on a lap top near you.. For the first time this year, the IEEE Photonics Society will make available recorded presentations and sessions from IEEE Photonics Conference 2011. Registered attendees, or non attendees who pay an access fee, can view the recordings. I will be attending remotely, so I will miss out on the networking opportunity, but this will give me a chance to test drive this feature.

This is a conference that focuses on devices rather than fabrication methods. The production fabrication challenges flow from new device inventions, so I want to know the overall industry direction. There is always an interesting mixture of academics and industrial inputs. On the blue sky end of the spectrum, Christopher Barty of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will describe nothing less than a new way to interact with matter: the use of incredibly bright gamma-rays to excite and manipulate the atomic nucleus. The use of light in this way opens up a new frontier in physics called nuclear photonics.

An entirely new type of semiconductor laser under development is the polariton laser. A highly efficient device, it one day may bring extreme energy-efficiency to medical diagnostics equipment, ultra-fast optical networks and other applications. A team from U. Michigan will describe a nanowire based polarition laser.

On the LED front, a McGill University group have achieved a record 57-percent internal quantum efficiency (electricity-to-light conversion efficiency) over the entire range of visible wavelengths with InGaN/GaN dot-in-a-wire light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This is an example of using the size of quantum dots to tune frequency of emission.

Other groups will be announcing new devices such as a “Femtosecond-Speed IR Detector”, and a “Stable 200-GHz Soliton Laser”.

Some of the underlying themes reflect the commercially significant applications. Optical networking is fundamental to today’s internet and the future super high bandwidths. Some of the more interesting papers include;

• “Inexpensive 100-Gb Ethernet”: Mitsubishi researchers will describe in an invited paper how they used four high-speed (25-Gbps) lasers in a clever arrangement to achieve 100 Gbps data transmission rates over Ethernet.

• “High-Speed, Efficient Photodiode”: A team led by Taiwan’s National Central University will describe a 270 GHz high-speed, low-power photodiode.

Chip to chip optical interconnect has yet to achieve commercial acceptance, but research is pushing ahead because of the technical advantages. Creating the emitters and receivers on chip is a key enabling technology. In “On-Chip Quantum Dot Lasers & Optical Interconnects”: a University of Michigan team will describe their work building an indium arsenide/gallium arsenide (InAs/GaAs) quantum dot laser.

Several of my previous blogs have discussed flexible or printed electronics. In “Low-Temperature Metal-Oxide Thin-Film Transistors”; a paper from Seoul National University will report progress in how to fabricate them from a liquid solution, rather than by using conventional semiconductor-manufacturing processes like sputtering.

This is just a small subset of the papers being presented. Next month, I will focus on a few papers that I will follow at the virtual conference.

About the author

Mike Watts has been patterning since 1 um was the critical barrier, in other words for a longtime. I am a tall limey who is failing to develop a Texas accent here in Austin. I have a consulting shingle at

My blog “ImPattering” will focus on the latest developments in the business and technology of patterning. I am particularly interested in trying to identify how the latest commercial applications evolve.


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