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Prism Awards: startups and stalwarts make 2019 shortlist

05 Dec 2018

Winning photonics products will be recognized at special event taking place during Photonics West.

Disruptive startups will share the limelight with some of the photonics industry’s biggest names at the 2019 Prism Awards, with 30 finalists named across ten categories in the eleventh year of the competition.

The likes of Spark Lasers, RedShift BioAnalytics, aJile Systems, and Double Helix Optics - the latter a 2016 SPIE Startup Challenge champion and recent winner of the Luminate accelerator program and a $1 million prize - will line up with household brand names including Nikon and Leica at the forthcoming Photonics West awards ceremony.

New categories
This time around the awards features two new categories, namely “transportation” and “vision technologies”, reflecting the emergence of high-profile applications such as automotive lidar, solar-powered vehicles, and augmented reality eyewear.

Double Helix Optics is nominated for its “Spindle” microscope attachment, which extends instrument capability to nano-scale 3D imaging and sensing and is compatible with any widefield microscope and EMCCD or sCMOS camera using standard C-mounts.

The Colorado-headquartered startup will be up against Massachusetts-based RedShift BioAnalytics and Convergent Dental in the “diagnostics and therapeutics” category. RedShift is nominated for its “AQS” spectroscopic protein analyzer, while Convergent has developed a laser system for anesthesia-free dental treatment. The firm’s “Solea” product is based around an unusual 9.3 µm-wavelength carbon dioxide laser source devised by Coherent.

Among the other well-known names in the photonics industry to make the list of finalists are laser firms Trumpf, Toptica and nLight, while previous Prism winners are represented in the form of Swiss components firm Optotune, Tucson-based 4D Technology, and Japan's Hamamatsu.

In the new transportation category, the Bozeman, Montana, Doppler lidar specialist Blackmore Sensors and Analytics is shortlisted alongside high-performance solar cell developer (and Audi collaborator) Alta Devices, and the fiber-optics company OFS. Earlier this year Blackmore won backing from the venture wings of both BMW and Toyota in its series B round.

In the vision technology category Ohio-based AlphaMicron’s “CTRL Eyewear” liquid crystal glasses are up against QD Laser’s “Retissa” retinal projectors, and Optotune’s “XPR-25” high-resolution actuator.

Gala dinner ceremony
Kent Rochford, the CEO of Photonics West organizer SPIE, paid tribute to the efforts of those on the 2019 shortlist, saying: “This year's Prism finalists represent the savviest and most innovative companies from the growing optics and photonics industry.

“Bringing a product to market is a huge achievement, and we applaud all the applicants for the many years of research and development necessary to create a sellable technology." SPIE says it received 120 applications from 15 different countries this year.

“The benefits that photonics provides to society are more critical than ever, and the products showcased by the Prism Awards mark an exciting glimpse into the high-level and wide-ranging accomplishments in the field," Rochford added. "I look forward to hearing the winners announced at Photonics West.”

Organized in collaboration with Photonics Media, the Prism Awards have been running since 2008 and have become regarded as one of the highest accolades recognizing commercial developments in the optics and photonics sector.

The winners across the ten categories will be revealed at a gala dinner taking place on the evening of February 6 in downtown San Francisco, the location of the SPIE Photonics West event.

The full list of this year’s categories and finalists comprises:

Detectors & Sensors
• CloudMinds; XI AI Raman Spectrometer
• Hamamatsu Photonics; C14384MA Mini-Spectrometer (SMD series)
• ImpactVision; Real-time Food Quality Decisions

Diagnostics & Therapeutics
• Convergent Dental; Solea CO2 Dental Laser
• Double Helix Optics; SPINDLE
• RedShift BioAnalytics; AQS Protein Analyzer

Imaging & Cameras
• Ajile Light Industries; DepthScan
• Leica; BLK3D
• RDI Technologies; Iris MX

Industrial Lasers
• Civan Advanced Technologies; HP Laser & CBC Technology for Material Processing
• nLIGHT; Corona Fiber Laser
• TRUMPF; TruPrint 5000

Light Sources
• Gamma Scientific; RS-7-SWIR
• SLD Laser; LaserLight MicroSpot Module
• Smart Vision Lights; NanoDrive

Optics & Optomechanics
• Dover Motion; DOF-5
• Modular Photonics; Omplex Passive Silica Chips
• Nikon; 4D Free-Form SG

Scientific Lasers
• Chromacity; OPO-CX
• Spark Lasers; ALCOR 920 nm, 2W
• TOPTICA Photonics; DLC TOPO Automated Widely Tunable MIR Laser Source

Test & Measurement
• 4D Technology; 4D InSpec XL
• InterOptics; OptoFlat
• SmarAct; PicoScan Vibrometer

Transportation
• Alta Devices; AnyLight Gen4 Solar Cell
• Blackmore; Automotive Doppler Lidar System
• OFS; FlightLinx® PLUS Fiber Optic Cable

Vision Technology
• AlphaMicron; CTRL Eyewear
• Optotune; Extended Pixel Resolution Beam Shifter XPR-25
• QD Laser; RETISSA Display

EKSMA OPTICSESPROS Photonics AGart Photonics GmbHSchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHBristol Instruments, Inc.AltechnaEclipse Optics
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