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Posted: August 4, 2009
Conference brings together solar technology and nanoscience experts
(Nanowerk News) Bringing lively discussions on technologies with life-changing potential, SPIE Optics and Photonics runs through Thursday in the San Diego Convention Center. Approximately 4,500 international attendees are expected to attend the technical presentations and panels, professional development courses, and exhibition.
Talks on solar-energy technologies, nanoscience and engineering, photonics devices, and optical engineering have seen strong attendance, organizers report. The meeting is the largest optics and photonics meeting in North America, and includes the leading conferences in many areas.
Solid-state lighting is one of those. "SPIE has been involved in solid-state lighting from the beginning, and this is the primary technical conference in that area," said Ian Ferguson, chair of the conference on that topic and director of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte.
A growing solar energy program is also gaining attention, with grid parity and system efficiency among the top concerns. Sarah Kurtz of the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) spoke to a capacity crowd on reliability as a critical component of successful deployment of solar technologies. Kurtz said she is optimistic about the United States' ability to rely on solar within 10 years to absorb the nation's growth in energy needs. In an interview for SPIE Newsroom, she discussed the ability of solar power sources to handle peak loads now, even before sophisticated storage systems are developed. (See a short preview clip from the SPIE Newsroom interview.)
The free three-day exhibition of more than 200 companies opens Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Several winners of the 2008 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation -- Daylight Solutions, NoblePeak Vision, Luxtera, and Princetel -- will show their winning projects and the research behind them, in a booth sponsored by SPIE.
SPIE has brought the International Year of Astronomy celebration to San Diego as well, with several activities to help mark the 400th anniversary of the telescope. A star-gazing "social" with local astronomers was held Monday evening, and a display of rare antique telescopes collected by the Univ. of Arizona College Of Optical Sciences will be shown in the exhibition hall. An astro-photo workshop and display, Galileoscope Project demonstration, live observatory data feed, and other activities are planned as well.
The conference began with a two-day leadership workshop for SPIE Student Chapter members. In a keynote talk, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs urged students to avoid being "type-cast" as they plan their careers in optics and photonics, and to ruminate on what really drives their passions. "The last century was the century of electronics," Arthurs said. "The 21st century belongs to photons."
SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics, founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. In 2008, the Society provided more than $1.9 million in support of scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.