Monday, December 10, 2012
Holmium for the holidays
Chemical elements are the gifts that keep on giving. This holiday season, it's important to acknowledge how much the chemical elements--and especially the rare-earth elements--keep our photonics industry humming. As I prepare to write my February Photonics Applied feature article on "Photonics Materials", I am reminded of how precious these chemical elements are to the livelihood of our industry and unfortunately, how precarious their supply really is.
So what would the holidays be without our rare-earths? Ask any photonics company and they will tell you, not at all joyful. I'm not a fan of mining and its harmful effects on the environment, but it's clear that the geographic availability of these rare-earth elements needs to be expanded. Stay tuned for my February feature article on photonic materials and the many surprising uses for common and not-so-common chemical elements in our photonics industry. And until then, here's hoping you'll get a big Ho-Ho-Ho from Santa this holiday season!