April/May 2009

FEATURE

Distribution value

Despite the current difficult economic climate, online sales will increase substantially this year, as they have done year on year. The resilience of this purchasing channel is a testament to the value and convenience most customers find when shopping online. I was recently asked if a distributor company has a future, given this ongoing dramatic growth in web-based purchasing. The simple answer is ‘yes and no’.

FEATURE

When the chips are down

The semiconductor industry is suffering one of the worst crashes in its history as the global recession drives demand for electronic devices down. The market research firm, Gartner, recorded a drop in semiconductor wafer demand of 36.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008. And this is by no means a trend describing the state of the market solely in the west: China’s semiconductor industry is predicted to fall by 5.8 per cent to $72bn in 2009, compared to 2008’s $76.5bn, according to electronics market analysis provider iSuppli.

FEATURE

Finding new applications fast

Ultrafast laser technology is living up to its name; it’s developing quickly. The shortest pulses achievable are now fewer than 100 attoseconds in duration, one attosecond being 1x10-18 seconds. Numbers and sizes become hard to visualise when they are so far removed from everyday life, but it is worth noting that there are as many attoseconds in a single second as there have been whole seconds since the beginning of the universe.

FEATURE

The rise of Raman

The Raman Effect is named after Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, an Indian physicist and winner of the 1930 Nobel Prize for physics – the first non-white person to win a Nobel Prize in science. Raman scattering is the inelastic scattering of an incident photon, meaning that the energy and wavelength of the scattered photon differs from that of the incident one.

FEATURE

A life in lasers

For Jose Salcedo, now CEO of Multiwave Photonics, lasers were part of life since the age of 19, when he built his first laser. Such was his fascination that he set up his own home laboratory and built a >50W CO2 laser, and published his first scientific paper on lasers while still an undergraduate.