Optics East 2007 Preview

July 1, 2007

A preview of one of the premier east coast optics conferences.

SPIE Optics East is set for September 9–12, 2007, in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Seaport World Trade Center, with an emphasis on sensors and spectroscopy. This includes physical, chemical, and biological sensors for industrial and environmental monitoring, including harsh environments. Approximately 1300 people will participate in the technical conferences, courses, and exhibition. The exhibition runs from September 11–September 12.

"The SPIE Optics East conference series is a major event that provides a critically needed international forum for exchange of innovative ideas and important information in sensing technologies for environmental, industrial, and national security applications," said Professor Tuan Vo-Dinh, Director, Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

SPIE events emphasize the newest technology and a reduction to practice. "We are especially excited to bring a new conference, Next Generation Spectroscopic Technologies, to the community," said Bonnie Peterson, event manager at SPIE. "This provides a place for people to learn about the groundbreaking work in spectroscopic instrumentation, including infrared, near-IR, and Raman molecular techniques, along with ultraviolet, visible, and fluorescence applications."

David Bannon, COO of Headwall Photonics, agrees. "People come to this conference to hear the latest results and meet colleagues working on similar problems, which fosters innovation and product development," says Bannon. "I'm happy to be involved with a session on imaging sensors, to help people see what's possible now with the latest hardware and data analysis tools. For example, hyperspectral imaging can help with food quality inspection by identifying chemicals like melamine, which has contaminated pet food. People can hear the latest research and find feasible solutions to real-world problems."

People can also come to learn about near-infrared tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS), which is now an accepted industrial measurement technique for applications ranging from trace gas analysis in harsh environments to safety and environmental monitoring. "An example is the remote methane leak detector, a battery-powered, handheld standoff TDLAS sensor used to survey for natural gas leaks," says Dr. Michael Frish, Manager of Industrial Sensors and Technology Commercialization at Physical Sciences Inc. More than 300 of these methane leak detectors are now in service, according to Frish.

This SPIE event helps people peer over the horizon of spectroscopic technology. "I see two key trends in spectroscopy: miniaturization and expert systems," says Dr. Michael A. Butler, VP Research & Development at Polychromix, Inc. "The result is moving the spectrometer out of the hands of experts in the lab and into the field or factory floor to be used by nonexperts. Examples include handheld near-infrared (NIR) tools for carpet recycling, and first-responder devices for identification of hazardous substances. With cost reduction, this will lead to many new applications for spectroscopy."

Uptake of new technology has been increasing steadily across a variety of industries, which are represented at Optics East. Dramatic changes are occurring in the pharmaceutical industry as a result of regulatory influence. "Optical instrumentation is a key technology in achieving the FDA's Process Analytical Technology and Quality by Design Initiatives," says Linda Kidder, Product Manager at Malvern Instruments. "There has been a seismic shift in the requirement for the industry to understand their processes including formulation (QbD) and manufacturing (PAT). New technology being discussed at the Next Generation Spectroscopic Technologies program at Optics East will detail the significant advantages over wet chemical techniques for rapid, on-line measurements."

More information is available online at http://spie.org/opticseast.