Photonics Europe garners larger-than-expected attendance

APRIL 30--More than 2300 scientists, researchers, product developers, and vendors gathered at the inaugural Photonics Europe (Strasbourg, France), sponsored by SPIE Europe, 26-30 April 2004.

Apr 30th, 2004

APRIL 30--More than 2300 scientists, researchers, product developers, and vendors gathered at the inaugural Photonics Europe (Strasbourg, France), sponsored by SPIE Europe, 26-30 April 2004. A total of 850 papers from 43 countries were presented in 17 technical conferences, and more than 160 companies displayed their products and services on the exhibition floor.

General Chairs Hugo Thienpont (Vrije Univ. Brussel), Giancarlo Righini (Istituto di Fisica Applicata Nello Carrara-CNR, Italy), and Patrick Meyrueis (Univ. Louis Pasteur, France) crafted a broad-based event to serve the interests of the greater European community. Larger-than-expected attendance and strong support from steering committee members such as Hans Tiziani (Univ. Stuttgart, Germany), Malgorzata Kujawinska (Warsaw Univ. of Technology, Poland), and Klaus Biedermann (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) from within the EU and abroad point to the need for such an event, especially one which allowed for ample networking opportunities on the future of photonics in Europe. The organizers planned several receptions, a business program, and an optics and photonics cluster event to complement the technical program.

Photonics Europe got started with the "Hot Topics in Photonics" session on Monday. More than 400 attendees enjoyed the insights of leading researchers such as Henri Rajbenbach (European Commission, Information Society Directorate), and Ayman El-Fatatry (BAE Systems United Kingdom). As organized by Francis Berghmans (SCK-CEN, Belgium) and Hugo Thienpont (Vrije Univ. Brussel), the presentations displayed a good balance of general overviews and specific technical insights. The presenters didn't focus solely on the scientific aspects of their topics-they also spent time on other important issues such as management and education.

Technical conferences began on Tuesday, 27 April. Many of the technical conferences were based around Framework VI technology/research areas, and the chairs look forward to hearing results of Framework VI projects at the planned 2006 meeting in Strasbourg. Lively sessions within the conferences on Biophotonics Micro and Nano Imaging, Organic Optoelectronics and Photonics, and Micro-Optics, VCSELs and Photonic Interconnects played to filled rooms. As to the interest in biophotonics and organic materials, Prof. Meyrueis said: "As researchers, we have been using photonics to understand nature; now, we are using nature as a model, trying to understand what nature does well." Specific possibilities that came up were the use of plant phototropins as a basis for optical switches and the use of proteins for making high-capacity memory chips.

The exhibition of 160+ companies attracted more than 600 walk-ins from across Europe in addition to the 1000 technical attendees. Exhibitors were pleased with the quality of the contacts and indicated interest in the planned 2006 meeting. Due to the technical content of the meeting, SPIE expects to see new exhibitors in organic optoelectronics and solid-state devices to be part of the future of this exhibition.

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