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CLEO 2009--The year of mid-IR

By Tom Hausken
To name one thing that stands out at an industry event may do an injustice to the many others, but mid-infrared is my pick for CLEO 2009. This is a product category that really seems to be gaining traction. From a market perspective, it has a lot going for it: many new and exciting potential applications, and many new technology solutions. Of course, application development takes time, but there are both near-term and long-term apps. A nice place to be these days.

There was a session in the PhAST Market Forum on mid-IR environmental monitoring. There was a plenary presentation by Federico Capasso, now a professor at Harvard, on quantum cascade lasers. Daylight Solutions , Hamamatsu , Alpes Lasers , Maxion Technologies , and AdTech Optics are some of the companies that make quantum cascade lasers or products built around them. There were also companies showing 2 micron fiber lasers, such as Advalue Photonics , IPG Photonics , and Photonics Industries . And there are usual established players that make OPOs and the pumps to drive them, companies that feature coatings, and so on. Some of the companies have even been hiring through the downturn. MIRTHE, the NSF Center on Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment headquartered at Princeton, had a booth at CLEO showing off some applications.

Of course, there were also lots of other great new products and conference presentations. Laser Focus World magazine does a great job covering those topics, I'll leave that to them.

The turnout at CLEO wasn't too bad, considering we are going through the biggest economic downturn in decades. Sure, companies cut back in booth size and attendees, but CLEO attendance was only in the lower end of the range of recent years, not drastically different.

CLEO really addresses scientific and R&D applications--you see lots of ultrafast lasers and fancy instrumentation. The markets for those applications are as close to flat as any today. Which is to say, really good.

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