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SPIE Photonex pulls a crowd at its new UK venue

09 Dec 2022

Expo and conference draws more than 1000 visitors to UK National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.

by Matthew Peach in Birmingham

Photonex, now owned and managed by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has long been the UK’s leading annual conference and exhibition. This week’s event marked the first time it has been held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.

The three-day conference gave attendees an opportunity to get a comprehensive update on the latest research in photonics, biophotonics, quantum technologies, lasers, optical technologies, materials analysis, nanotechnology, and thin film coatings.

The conference program was jointly chaired by Prof. Graham Reed of the ORC at the University of Southampton and Dr. Tariq Ali of the University of Birmingham. For further information about the conference presentations on the three key sectors of silicon photonics, quantum technologies, and hyperspectral imaging, visit Photonex Review 2022, prepared by the editorial team of optics.org.

SPIE Photonex’s other main set of talks – the exhibition floor-based industry program – was chaired by Simon Andrews, who leads Fraunhofer UK Centre for Applied Photonics at the University of Strathclyde; and Dr. Najwa Sidqi, Knowledge Transfer Manager in Quantum Technologies at the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network.

Industry program

Following is a representative selection of the presentations from the industry program, attended by optics.org, demonstrating the breadth of applied photonics in action across the UK.

Christopher Leburn, Chromacity Lasers

“Chromacity offers a range of fixed wavelength and tunable ultrashort pulsed laser sources for applications within both academic and industrial settings. There has been a growing interest in these sources for quantum communications,” he said. He also gave an overview of quantum related projects across the 2.0 to 2.5µm mid-IR waveband, and explained how Chromacity’s tunable laser is helping to develop new photonic integrated circuits.

Matthew Markham, Element Six

”Besides the well-known, extreme hardness of diamond, this remarkable material has many properties that make it useful for photonics applications,” he said. “Its optical, thermal, electrochemical, chemical, and electronic properties often outclass competing materials.”

Diamond quantum technologies is a relatively new area that has seen rapid growth in research over the past decade and is now being commercialized for applications such as gyroscopes, timing and magnetometry, as well as the usual technologies such as quantum encryption and quantum simulation. Element Six’s presentation described the new materials the Didcot, Oxfordshire-based firm has developed to address these new markets.

Adnan Quazi, Hamamatsu Photonics UK

Mid-infrared technologies facilitate various kinds of environmental monitoring applications. Hamamatsu photonics has been “spearheading a 2.0 revolution in the mid-IR with environmentally friendly detectors and high energy efficiency LEDs,” explained Quazi, who is a Senior Sales Engineer at Hamamatsu Photonics with a specialization in Mid-IR technologies.

He commented, “We have taken the concept of the MEMs grating further and integrated that into a small butterfly package. Hamamatsu has a widely-tunable QCL currently under development that I am really looking forward to getting into our customers hands as soon as possible.”

Iwan Davies, IQE

IQE, based in Cardiff, UK, but with a global footprint, has been supplying advanced wafer products and wafer services to the semiconductor industry for the past 30 years. Using both MOCVD and MBE reactors, it has pioneered the supply of custom-designed epitaxial wafers for a number of device applications. IQE’s business depends on a broad range of electronic and photonic epitaxial device structures; serving wireless and optical telecommunications, sensing, energy, medical, industrial and consumer markets.

Davies noted that compound semiconductors “are a key enabling technology to meet net zero supporting, for example, LED energy efficient lighting, solar cell power generation and high voltage power electronics for electric vehicles and wind turbines. It is therefore of vital importance such technologies contribute to the development of new knowledge and techniques in relation to energy efficiency and harvesting and the detection of harmful gases which potentially lead to environmental damage,” he said.

Harriet van der Vliet, Oxford Instruments

van der Vliet, product segment manager for quantum technologies, presented the company’s latest technologies and applications of its “next-generation dilution refrigerators” Proteox – and some of the system’s features that suit this system to multi-user and multi-system labs. She also discussed OxInst’s latest customer systems and projects within the quantum ecosystem.

Last month, Dr. Joachim Koenen, co-founder and Managing Director of WITec, an Oxford Instruments company, was presented with a R&D 100 Award for WITec’s cryoRaman, a low-temperature molecular imaging system. This instrument, created in cooperation with technology partner attocube systems AG, was deemed “one of the year’s most innovative commercial product introductions”.

Louise Jones, Smart Energy Systems, KTN, UK

Jones is lead for Grid and Distributed Energy generation at the KTN, where she covers electrical energy systems and renewables. She leads on the Energy Systems element of delivery of the KTN’s Innovation Exchange program KTN-iX. She is also active within Wales assisting in delivering a Photonics launchpad in North Wales.

She is keen to see how photonics can be shaped in Wales through the recently formed dedicated network, Photonics Connected and at SPIE Photonex, she described successes, case studies and applications “beyond where we would see photonics applied”. Innovate UK funds and works with the Innovate UK KTN to create connections, shape future innovation communities for its programs, and enhance technology expertise through its nationwide network.

Exhibitor announcements

Aegiq presented its iSPS™-925 low-noise, on-demand source of indistinguishable single photons. Dr. Charlotte Ovenden, Senior Photonics Engineer, explained, “Our proprietary technology allows extremely high bandwidths delivered to either free-space or a single-mode fiber output for simple plug-and-play operation. The deterministic photon source retains high indistinguishability and single photon purities, enabling orders of magnitude improvements across a range of quantum photonic applications.”

The EPIC Centre in Torbay is offering technology businesses access to more than £2.5 million of prototyping capability including die & wire bonding, fiber alignment, device packaging, microscopy and analysis. EPIC is a government-owned facility built and funded to support the needs of businesses. The centre therefore offers the opportunity for companies to select their own R&D lab or office from just £775 per month.

Agilent Technologies’ Vacuum Products Division provides dry vacuum from the ground up, from rough vacuum to UHV, as well as the vacuum measurement instrumentation and leak detection you need to stay up and running. The company presented its new HLD and PHD-4 leak detectors, TwisTorr FS turbo pumps, IDP dry scroll pumps, TPS turbo pumping systems, and VacIon ion pumps.

Envin Scientific designs and manufactures optical thin film filters for UV visible and infrared applications. Its Advanced Performance Filters are produced and validated in Chester, UK, by an experienced team. Designs range from relatively simple coatings comprising several layers to very sophisticated structures using hundreds of layers which fulfill challenging performance criteria such as multi-spectral operation, very steep edges and high blocking levels. Custom filters are a specialty.

Quantum Design presented high-resolution, digital SWIR cameras, specified for applications such as in-vivo imaging. There was also an opportunity to discover the Raptor digital camera range at the Quantum Design and Raptor stand at SPIE Photonex. With an ultra low typical readout noise of 18 electrons and a typical dark current reading of <750e- at -15°C, the Ninox 640 II improves on its predecessor’s noise performance.

Laser Components presented, among other products its Laser-pumped White Light Source. The LS-WL1 provides high luminance output that enables long-throw distances, narrow beam angles and small optic sizes for specialty lighting applications.

The firm commented, “this opens new possibilities in endoscopy, surgical headlamps, biomedical applications and 3D image processing. It can provide 100 times the intensity of a white light LED, with typical (1mm) fiber output being >500mW”. This is achieved using two GaN laser diodes that are focused on a ceramic phosphor converter, which generates an extremely bright fluorescent point light source with a diameter of less than 300µm.

Chromasens GmbHCommonlands LLCOmicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHLightTrans International GmbHArizona Optical MetrologyChangchun Jiu Tian  Optoelectric Co.,Ltd.EKSMA Optics
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