The pace of scientific progress in any area depends greatly on the demands of the market and the available resources. Tunable lasers are a case in point. Though such devices have been the subject of research for over twenty years, only relatively recently have the pull of high bandwidth communications and the importance of optical networks accelerated them to the forefront of research and funding. Any promise of a practical tunable
laser can immediately garner the attention of technologists, venture capitalists and large corporations, all of whom realize that these devices are crucial to fulfilling the promises of the information revolution. Nearly a dozen startup companies are com-
peting with more established corporations to deliver on a practical tunable laser for
optical communications. The technical announcements so far come a long way in satisfying the need, but no panacea that can fully serve the entire market is in sight.