Scatterings image

World of Photonics Congress 2017. [Image: Messe München]

The World of Photonics Congress 2019 will kick-off on 24 June in Munich, Germany. The massive, biannual event comprises seven scientific conferences, including CLEO/Europe - EQEC—all co-located with the world’s largest photonics trade fair, Laser World of Photonics, which itself will include 17 application panels highlighting current practices in laser and photonic applications. OPN spoke with two organizers of these events, Peter Loosen, deputy director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, Germany, and Wilhelm Kaenders, Toptica, Germany, about what we can expect from this year’s meeting.

An industrial spin

The World of Photonics Congress is a unique event in the photonics community; its co-location with such a prominent trade show allows for a practice-oriented, academic­-industrial–friendly program. However, creating a truly symbiotic conference atmosphere in which industry and science can both thrive is no small feat, especially on such a large scale. When you have a mega-conference like this, with so many moving parts—some of which are new and unproven—there are many challenges to pulling it off.

The general chair of the scientific steering committee for the World of Photonics Congress, Peter Loosen, believes that the steering committee achieves this task by “developing confidence and trust between the people” who are collaborating on the project. Loosen says that creating trust between every organization and society involved—including OSA, which boosted its engagement with the congress this year with the OSA Imaging and Applied Optics Congress —“contributes to the global success of the event.”

Often, when planning a scientific conference, organizers worry about the comprehensiveness of the program: Did we leave something out? Will a key stakeholder be disappointed by the coverage? Is there something for everyone? According to Loosen, with a congress of this size, a bigger worry is overlap. “This was the most important task which we have to solve,” says Loosen, “to create a complete picture with minimum overlaps.” The steering committee tackled this problem by creating joint sessions. For example, this year, to honor the 50th anniversary of integrated optics, CLEO/Europe will feature a special joint symposium on the topic.

Science lineup

Scatterings image

Peter Loosen [Image: Messe München]

In addition to these joint sessions, the congress program features the latest and greatest in photonics and laser research. CLEO/Europe alone, co-organized by OSA, EPS and IEEE Photonics Society, will feature eight keynote and six tutorial speakers and over 80 invited talks. One plenary talk that Loosen is looking forward to is Nobel laureate Gérard Mourou’s “A Passion for Extreme Light.” The six other conferences (Lasers in Manufacturing, EOS Optical Technologies, OSA’s Imaging and Applied Optics Congress, Digital Optical Technologies, Optical Metrology and European Conferences on Biomedical Optics) run the gamut of optical technologies—highlighting everything from fundamental scientific topics to the latest laser and photonics applications in industry and medicine.

“The fair and the congress are reflecting what is happening in the world,” says Loosen, “major topics worldwide, in science and in industry.” Some of these standout themes include 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, not to mention 3-D printing of microparts for medical applications. Recent advances in laser-beam shaping and lasers are hot topic as well, including high-power ultra-short pulse lasers and new systems entering the market with kilowatt-average power, which Loosen says “will open a broad range of new applications.” Outside of laser developments, medical applications, logic applications and metrology will all get their time in the sun.

Application panels

Scatterings image

Wilhelm Kaenders speaks at the World of Photonics Congress 2017. [Image: Messe München]

Clearly, there will be plenty to keep attendees busy at the World of Photonics Congress this year—but they should also make time for the 17 application panels at the Laser World of Photonics trade show. These panels fall under three overarching themes: biophotonics and medical applications/optical metrology and imaging, lasers and optics, and lasers materials processing. Open to all trade-fair visitors, exhibitors and congress participants, the relatively new sessions were added to the congress lineup as a way to “intensify the context and exchange between industry and science,” says Loosen.

The panels are co-organized by representatives from both industry and academic science for the purpose of opening up both worlds for each other. The chairman of the advisory board for the laser trade show, Wilhelm Kaenders—who see himself as “being at home in both of these worlds”—says that the clear intention of the application panels is to “serve as a compact supplement to the scientific program, pulling in the interested public as well as the show-floor visitor who needs guidance to follow the bigger thread.” They focus on the latest updates on lasers and their industrial applications, such as laser machining, but they also cover newly emerging commercial fields, such as augmented and virtual reality.

Kaenders himself will lead a panel on optical quantum technologies for sensing and computing. In this session, Kaenders and his colleagues will cover “what all the hype is about” when it comes to quantum technologies, why quantum deserves all of the attention it’s received since the last World of Photonics two years ago, and what is happening today with the first commercial activities in the arena. “Quantum is not an option anymore,” says Kaenders, “but will be the path forward for more sensitivity, specificity, resolution, precision and computational speed in the future.”

Other applications panels will cover topics like AR/VR, lidar, infectious disease diagnostics, high-power diode lasers, quantum for imaging and communication, additive manufacturing and machine intelligence. Even if none of those strike your fancy, Kaenders claims there is one event that can’t be missed—the beer keg tapping ceremony at the exhibitor opening event.