ANALYSIS & OPINION
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Laser World of Photonics continues to grow

The upcoming international trade fair Laser World of Photonics is extending its capacity on 2007's event with 10,000m2 additional floor space in a fourth exhibition hall, despite the economic downturn. The trade fair for optical technologies, which will be held from 15-18 June 2009 in Munich, will present a complete range of products for the industry with emphasis placed on practical applications, hence the slogan 'Light at Work'.

Klaus Dittrich, managing director of Messe München International, organisers of the event, expects an increased number of exhibitors compared to 2007's show, but a decline in visitor numbers. Speaking at a press conference previewing the event, Dittrich said that visitor numbers are difficult to predict as many companies are restricting their travel budgets. However, he made the point that the absolute number of visitors was less important than the number of represented companies and that many companies will have a presence at the show, but will send fewer representatives.

Thomas Renner of Toptica Photonics agrees with Dittrich, expecting a good turnout of companies. His experience at Photonics West, the US trade fair held 24-29 January 2009, suggested a turnout of 90 per cent compared to the previous year in terms of number of contacts, which he felt was positive and he expects similar numbers at the European conference in June.

The trade fair, run every two years, is the largest photonics conference in Europe and one of the highlights in the industry's calendar. According to Konrad Hentschel, research and QA manager at Sill Optics, the market and applications are still there for laser technology; the industry just needs a boost to help it out of the recession and this event could provide the impetus required. Hentschel felt that many companies are preparing for the show and it could be the catalyst to stimulate growth in the industry.

This year's conference will focus on three key topics: biophotonics and life sciences, lasers in photovoltaics, and illumination. Technology surrounding these topics will be presented on joint stands and by individual exhibitors at the trade fair, as well as in a lecture series called 'Application Panels' during the World of Photonics Congress, running 14-19 June 2009.

The World of Photonics Congress, which is held in parallel to the trade fair, comprises seven conferences covering topics in the field of optical technologies. Viviane Reding, European commissioner for information society and media, will open the event with approximately 3,100 delegates expected to attend.

Other highlights include a number of events entitled 'Light Insights', which aim to arouse children's interest in optical technologies; a CEO round table discussion; 'Photons in Production', showcasing material processing; a career centre; and the Herbert Walther Award – a €5,000 prize presented for the first time in 2009 honouring contributions from the fields of quantum optics and nuclear physics, and leadership in the international scientific community.

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