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18 July 2022

Optica’s Imaging and Sensing Congresses highlighted impactful applications driving innovation

Co-located congresses highlight advances in imaging and sensing technologies and applications, from health monitoring sensors to images revealed by James Webb Space Telescope.

WASHINGTON—The annual co-located Optica Imaging and Applied Optics Congress and Optica Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress was held 11-15 July in Vancouver, British Columbia. The congresses featured nine topical meetings, special sessions, a combined exhibit and four plenary talks.   

“This week the universe's splendor and breadth were on display like never before, through new images released from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope,” said Ram Narayanswamy, NIL Technology, United States, Imaging and Applied Optics Congress Chair. “At this year’s Congress, presentations covered everything from space telescopes imaging galaxies light years away to the array of miniature mobile phone cameras impacting our daily lives with new usages.”

“Recent advances have enabled new modalities of ranging and detection, presentations at this year’s Congress highlighted impactful optical sensing of the atmosphere and water as well novel tools for material characterization and metrology,” said Gerard Wysocki, Princeton University, United States, Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress Chair. “Conference attendees had the opportunity to interact and discover common ground and potentially build collaborations leading to new concepts or development efforts. The Congress presentations showed the path forward to new scientific frontiers beyond the scope of current sensing technologies.”

Scott Acton, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation

Presentation: Phasing the Webb Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a segmented deployable telescope, utilizing 6 degrees of freedom for adjustment of the Secondary Mirror (SM) and 7 degrees of freedom for adjustment of each of its 18 segments in the Primary Mirror (PM). After deployment, the PM segments and the SM arrive in their correct optical positions to within a few mm, with accordingly large wavefront errors. The Wavefront Sensing and Controls commissioning process for the James Webb Space Telescope was described in this presentation, from the initial deployment of the optics to the final alignment of the science field with nanometer precision. 

Juliet Gopinath, University of Colorado Boulder

Presentation: From Water Filtration to Autonomous Navigation: Using Photonics to Enable new Sensing Modalities

Light can be used for exquisite sensors that can measure range, chemical composition, and even the workings of the brain. Phenomena from optical angular momentum to electrowetting can be effectively leveraged to realize novel optical sensors. Recent advances have enabled new modalities of ranging and detection of membrane fouling in water desalination, imaging brain structures and building non-mechanical LIDAR scanners. 

Peyman Milanfar, Google Research

Presentation: How the Mobile Phone Became a Camera

The first camera phone was sold in 2000, when taking pictures with your phone was an oddity, and sharing pictures online was unheard-of. Today, barely twenty years later, the smartphone is more camera than phone. How did this happen? This transformation was enabled by advances in computational photography — the science and engineering of making great images from small form factor, mobile cameras. Modern algorithmic and computing advances, including machine learning, have changed the rules of photography, bringing to it new modes of capture, post-processing, storage, and sharing. Milanfar gave a brief history of digital and computational photography and describe some of the key recent advances of this technology, including burst photography and super-resolution.

Joseph Shaw, Montana State University

Presentation: Optical Exploration of the Natural World

In this presentation, Shaw discussed LIDARs and passive sensors he has developed to explore the natural world. Examples ranged from lidars for detecting honeybees that can sniff for landmines to radiometric and polarimetric imaging for measuring atmospheric radiation and detecting cloud composition.

The Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress is comprised of four topical meetings including: Applied Industrial Spectroscopy, Laser Applications to Chemical, Security and Environmental Analysis, Optics and Photonics for Sensing the Environment, Optical Sensors. Topics range from the development of novel technologies and their first field demonstration to long term applications in monitoring networks.

The Imaging and Applied Optics Congress convenes five topical meetings: 3D Image Acquisition and Display: Technology, Perception and Applications, Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging, Imaging Systems and Applications and Propagation Through and Characterization of Atmospheric and Oceanic Phenomena. Participants heard from experts on the advances contributing to improvements in imaging science and imaging applications. Of particular note this year was the addition of a special session on recent advances in free-space optical communications.

About the 2022 Imaging and Applied Optics Congress and Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress

The Optica Imaging and Applied Optics Congress provides a comprehensive view of the latest developments in imaging and applied optical sciences, covering the forefront advances in imaging and applied optics as well as the application of these technologies to important industrial, military and medical challenges. The Optica Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress will provide a forum for both the technical and applications sides of sensors to report the latest optical-based sensor advances, bring together major sensor developers and users, and showcase the latest sensor prototypes and products. These events will be presented in a hybrid conference format using a program schedule based on Pacific Daylight Time (PDT, UTC-07:00).

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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