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The All-Virtual 2021 OSA Applied Industrial Optics (AIO) Meeting in Review

Thomas Mauldin, OSA Student Member, University of Rhode Island

A virtual format did not prevent the OSA Applied Industrial Optics Meeting held 26 – 30 July from operating in full force. Michael Oshetski from Mitcatu Incorporated kicked the meeting off with an exciting keynote session focused on how optical sensors play a key role in the transformation of the utility industry to a distributed topology. Oshetski shared information on the sensors currently being deployed in industry and provided insights into the future of this growing market.

Caption: Garrett Cole, Thorlabs Inc. (top left), Alex Fang, Entrada Ventures (top right), Linda Smith, Ceres Technology Advisors (bottom left), and Anjul Loiacono, Double Helix Optics (bottom right) discussing investment options, mergers, and acquisition processes during the panel “From Angels to Acquisition, Sowing the Seeds of Investment”.

Credit: Thomas Mauldin 

This year’s AIO continued the tradition of delivering unforgettable special events. First, an informative panel discussion, moderated by Garrett Cole (Thorlabs, Inc.), provided deep insight on investment options and merger processes for optics-focused entrepreneurs from panelists Alex Fang (Entrada Ventures), Anjul Loiacono (Double Helix Optics), and Linda Smith (Ceres Technology Advisors). Next, Karen Matthews with Purpose-Driven Consulting provided a framework for personal development with an informative event.

This year’s AIO also explored how the optics community can support inclusion and expand diversity. During this event, Jamie LaCouture (Thorlabs Inc.), Gary Miller (NRL), Arlene Smith (Avo Photonics), and Marcia Lesky (OSA) shared examples of how this is being done in the field while having interactive discussions with attendees. Lastly, what better way to end the special events than with a look at where the applied industrial optics market is currently and what to expect in the future. Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor at The Optical Society (OSA), held an engaging town hall discussion on the exciting opportunities in the field of industrial optics.

The momentum was sustained throughout the week with eight technical sessions that consisted of 21 invited and six contributed talks from both industry and academia, highlighting multidisciplinary research and commercial impact. One topic on the agenda was lidar sensor technology, which included techniques for testing lidar quality, the design of Giger mode APDs, applications of integrated optical phase arrays, and topographic and bathymetric map generation. Other sessions focused on compact time-domain near-infrared spectroscopy instrumentation, ultrafast lasers for tissue welding and sensing, and spectrometer-less optical biosensors for rapid testing.

Another innovative talk covered designs of chip lasers, tunable dual-wavelength silicon-photonic lasers, superluminescent light‐emitting diodes (SLEDs) and vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs). We all need our “daily dose of fiber,” and this session, consisting of security, fiber optic acoustic sensing and customized spectral fiber sensors, gave us just that. Metasurfaces and free-forming were two other topics covering multi-colored phase-amplitude holograms, optically controlled capillary force lithography, 2-D pupil expansion, camera-less imaging, electro-wetting based adaptive optics and reducing total error for free-form optics.

Caption: Sven Schönfelder showing an example of the micro spectrometer showcased in his presentation “Monolithic Micro Spectrometer to Determine Best Time to Harvest Fruits” during a live Q and A session.

Credit: Thomas Mauldin

Lastly, the spectroscopy crew shared updates on a hyperspectral imaging system, a micro spectrometer, dual comb spectrometers, a flue gas detector and alkali vapor cells.

It would not be an AIO meeting without a tutorial session, and this year’s topic on patent basics did not disappoint. Max Colice from Smith Baluch LLP provided an interactive discussion on patents and the examining process.

Overall, the 2021 AIO meeting provided a view into current and future industrial optics and continued to be a source for professional growth and a platform for personal network expansion.

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