Strategically Blogging

Lasers in Medical Imaging: The Forecast Looks Very Bright

Allen Nogee 07/11/2014

Almost all medical imaging to date has used one of three technologies: X-rays, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound. X-rays alone have been used for almost 120 years now, and although today’s imaging technology has improved vastly over the many years, the fact remains that x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetism are all technologies that, due to many factors, produce coarse images, at least by today’s standards. But what if a very coherent light source was used instead, maybe a laser?

Actually, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which produces images based on the reflections of coherent light, is not a new technology. OCT has been used since the early 1990s, especially in the area of ophthalmology, where the images produced by OCT are 100 times finer than standard images produced by ultrasound. In just the last five years, OCT has become one of the most important retinal imaging techniques used today.

The Impact of the Epistar Acquisition on the LED Industry

Martin Shih 07/09/2014

Epistar (2448.TW) announced a plan to fully acquire Forepi (3061.TW), the second-largest chipmaker in Taiwan, through a share swap (1:3.448), implying 18% share dilution to Epistar. The effective date will be the end of 2014, and Forepi will be delisted from the TAIEX.

After the merger, Epistar will become the world’s largest LED chip maker in terms of capacity with a global market share of 15%, which will better position the company to lead in future technology development.

EPA's New Emissions Cutting Plan Could Have an Effect on LED Lighting

Philip Smallwood 06/30/2014

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA will finalize the proposal in mid-2015 and then give states a year to design their own plans to meet targets. The organization will let states meet emission targets for power plants in several ways, including through plant upgrades, by switching from coal to natural gas, by improving energy efficiency, or by promoting renewable energy outside the plant site. This approach will give states greater flexibility in designing plans to meet the EPA’s targets.

Where's the Glare?

Shonika Vijay 06/13/2014

LIGHTFAIR, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, took place in Las Vegas last week. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I saw that was of the most interest. The 3 main things I saw were: a lot of LED luminaires, more use of optics in products, and lighting controls being present in nearly every booth. To read up more on controls, please see our blogs: Let's Talk Controls and Lightfair International Gets Smart. I will focus on what I saw in terms of optics and LED luminaires.

Lightfair International Gets Smart

Stephanie Pruitt 06/10/2014

At Lightfair International 2013, it seemed only a handful of companies had a booth with a smart lighting solution - Philips, TCP, and Samsung were among the more recognizable ones that I noticed. Fast forward one year and it seems that smart lighting could be found at almost every booth; even the non-name brand booths seemed to have some sort of solution. Whether this was wireless controls to dim lights or change color through your smart phone - or even gesture control...

The Un-Trends in Photonics Markets

By Tom Hausken
In the last post I ruminated on the best market trends of the decade in photonics. This time we examine that trends that weren't: the Un-Trends.

The decline of optical storage. Remember laser disks that were as big as vinyl records? Remember when CDs were displacing magnetic tapes? Remember CDs? The business of optical storage has been hit by a triple whammy: falling sales as downloads increase and falling prices due to commoditization. The iPad is the next big thing and--surprise!--there's no DVD player there. Not now, not ever. The future for optical storage is now in mass storage. And there's a chance that lasers will be needed to take magnetic storage a little further. Stay tuned.

The long winter of telecom components. The telecom components business never really recovered from the boom of the late 90s. Or shall we say it's back to the business it always was. Components. There are some successes, and stock prices are back to "normal," but overall it's nothing to brag about. Companies struggled through the decade to fill their fabs, move production to China, and just stay open. It's better now, but somehow it feels like there wasn't closure.

The elusive photonic integrated circuit. Twenty years ago it was called the OEIC, the optoelectronic integrated circuit. That was Bell Labs. In the 90s, Japanese companies pushed PLCs, photonic lightwave circuits. Now there are photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and the likes of Infinera and Luxtera. And of course there's the mother-of-all-quests: Intel's search for the silicon laser. (A 2006 article asks: lasers integrated into CMOS by 2010?) It's all nice work, and we're happy for Infinera--it's done a remarkable job. But the classical idea of the uber-circuit that will integrate smoothly with silicon--it's soooo 20th century. Get over it. What works is very piecemeal: some hybrid pick-and-place here, monolithic integration of a modulator there, and even then the economics can be questionable. The problem is that these approaches work best when you have high volumes, but high volume products are already commoditized in Asian factories. The real successes are much less dramatic. Think optical mouse, not 100G.

Optical computing is dead, long live optics in computing! I mean here the type of optical computing where the processor is all-optical. I worked on a project about this in the 1990s, with Japan, and there's still a little funding in it. The closest thing to it nowadays may be the all-optical telecom switch. (The name "switch" doesn't do it justice. They are pretty complex.) The optical processor is a nice idea ("it travels at the speed of light!") but it turns out that electronics is really really good, and really really cheap. Oh, and it's way easy to program. Now if you are talking about "optics in computing", that's another thing. There are optics everywhere inside a computer: the display, the mouse, the camera, the DVD player, maybe even a fiber cable someday (one can hope).

The death of CRTs, photographic film, and fax machines. The triumph of flat displays means the death of CRTs. What a great technology. Tubes are still preferred in various niches in electronics (take apart your microwave oven if you don't believe me). But I'm glad to see them go. Ever tried to carry a big CRT? (You can still buy one. Check Amazon .) Photographic film is still around too, although the last Kodachrome processor closed after Kodak stopped supporting the chemicals needed to develop it (see photos from the last roll here ). It's hard to miss film, especially in the dentist's office or the hospital x-ray lab. And fax machines will still be around for faxing legal and medical documents, and for receiving wacky advertisements (does that ever sell anything?).

There's more, but isn't 5 enough?

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