Monday, August 29, 2011

Plenaries aplenty at SPIE O + P San Diego

Gail Overton
Senior Editor
Laser Focus World

With a total of 25 plenary sessions, SPIE Optics + Photonics could quite possibly be the most plenary intensive conference in the photonics industry today. Beginning with the Astronomical Optics and Instrumentation Plenary Session and the Symposium-wide Plenary session on Sunday, August 21, the plenaries offered top-notch presentations from key industry experts and technology gurus that spanned the topics of astronomy, nanophotonics, biophotonics, solar energy, optoelectronic components, OLEDs and solid-state lighting, remote sensing, and various forms of imaging.

If you weren’t fortunate enough--as I wasn’t--to attend all the plenary sessions, perhaps these short summaries of a few that I did attend will be useful:

Aug 22, 10:30-11:15 am--Lessons From Nature About Solar Light-Harvesting
Gregory Scholes, Department of Chemistry professor at the University of Toronto (Toronto, ON, Canada), discussed how plant-based photosynthesis could be applied to energy harvesting in artificial solar photovoltaic and especially, organic solar cells. Such naturally occurring light-harvesting complexes (LHCs) as microbial mats and other photosynthetic organisms--up to one million of them in a liter of seawater--can absorb more light than semiconductor nanocrystals. By studying their properties, it is hoped they can provide clues about how to increase solar-cell efficiencies or create better bio-based solar cells that could rival artificial ones. In fact, Michael Gratzel from Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne won the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize for the Dyesol photosynthetic-based solar cell shown below:

Gratzel also talks about the photosynthetic-inspired solar cell on YouTube:

Aug 22, 11:15-12:00 am--Integration of Natural Silk Fibroin to Organic Optoelectronics and Photonics
Roberto Zamboni, director of the Institute of Organic Synthesis and Photoreactivity (ISOF) of the Italian Research Council (CNR) described how the silk road had a great impact on the region of Bologna, Italy, making it one of the largest silk producers of its time. Zamboni is extending that history by creating new silk-based optoelectronic devices, including new organic light-emitting transistors (OLETs) made from silk fibers. Check out this classic image from Tufts University of a silk-based optical reader that can be electronically modified to change the display:

Aug 23, 2:35-3:05 pm--Using Invariant Physics-Based Spectral/Spatial Methods for the Analysis of Hyperspectral Images
University of California, Irvine professor Glenn Healey described a technique to improve imaging discrimination of hyperspectral scenes through math and physics. Incredibly, the invariant representation technique can take into account surface orientation, thermal environment, and atmospheric and illumination conditions; for example, using a spectral signature alone to find aluminum rooftops in a suburban scene returns tens and sometimes hundreds of false positives. However, the invariant analysis takes these various physical parameters into account and can find ONLY those aluminum roofs within a scene. Look for a news story on this in an upcoming edition of Laser Focus World.

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