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PW 2012: young guns scoop 2011 Prisms

26 Jan 2012

Start-ups and SMEs showed strongly at this year’s Prism Awards, with a 60-laser tunnel imaging system and an industrial femtosecond laser among the winners.

This year’s Prism Awards, handed to the most innovative commercial new products in optics and photonics, have been won by a number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector.

Winners at the lavish ceremony, hosted by SPIE and Photonics Media as part of Photonics West, included the European firms MERMEC, Optotune, WITec, Amplitude Systèmes and nanoplus, along with US-based 89 North, OEwaves, PD-LD and Physical Optics Corporation.

The event featured a number of successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists active in the photonics business, with presenters including Tim Day from Daylight Solutions, the new head of IDEX’s optics and photonics platform Mike Cumbo, seasoned investor Larry Marshall from Southern Cross Venture Partners and Laura Smoliar from Peppertree Engineering.

As Marshall in particular was keen to emphasize, the innovations being honored at the event are the kinds of devices and systems that will help many countries to invent their way out of economic torpor.

He urged those innovators to “stick with it”, and that attitude seemed exemplified by award winners such as the high-precision microscope specialist WITec – started off in a garage 15 years ago – the young Swiss polymer adaptive optics company Optotune, and Physical Optics Corporation, which was founded by Polish immigrants that moved to the US.

Other winners on the night included Italy-based MERMEC for its T-Sight 5000 tunnel inspection system for improved rail safety; a system that comprises some 60 infrared lasers and ten cameras, and Amplitude Systèmes, whose ‘Satsuma’ femtosecond laser is beginning to disprove the old joke that the words “femtosecond” and “industrial” didn’t belong in the same sentence.

2011 PRISM Award Winners in full:

Defense and Security
• Physical Optics Corporation: Mobile ELISA-based Pathogen Detection

Detectors, Sensing, Imaging, and Cameras
• MERMEC: T-Sight 5000

Industrial Lasers
• Amplitude Systèmes: Satsuma HE (Booth 1431)

Green Photonics and Sustainable Energy
• nanoplus: DFB laser at 3µm (Booth 2523)

Life Sciences and Biophotonics
• 89 North: Heliophor (Booth 407)

Optics and Optical Components
• Optotune AG: Laser Speckle Reducer (Booth 5501)

Other Light Sources
• OEwaves: Ultra-Narrow Linewidth Laser (Booth 4632)

Scientific Lasers
• PD-LD Inc.: LabSource- VBG stabilized dual-laser source (Booth 828)

Test, Measurement, Metrology
• WITec GmbH: True Surface Microscopy

The 2011 Prism Awards attracted 130 entries and featured 28 finalists, and were judged by an independent panel of industry and technical experts.

ABTechIridian Spectral TechnologiesCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.SPECTROGON ABIDS Imaging Development SystemsLaCroix Precision OpticsHÜBNER Photonics
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