Optics and photonics scientists and innovators emphasised the impact of photonics in improving quality of life and driving the economy, in strategy discussions in December at the third annual meeting of Photonics21.
SPIE and SPIE Europe leadership and staff were among more than 300 members of the association of industrial and other stakeholders in the field of photonics in Europe who met in Brussels to develop the group's 2009 strategy and discuss future funding opportunities.
Members were urged by Photonics21 president Martin Goetzler, CEO of Osram, to focus on key viable activities and by Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information, Media and Society, to submit fitting proposals for the FP7 Programme as well as the future FP8 Programme, to help further photonics. Reding characterised the field as a principal driver of the economy and a major contributor to the quality of life in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Member of the European Parliament Malcolm Harbour also stressed in his talk the importance of photonics. He encouraged the audience to communicate this importance with their EU MPs and invited them to visit the SPIE Europe Photonics Europe conference and exhibition in Brussels in April 2010. Harbour, as chair of the European Parliament Science Technology Optics Assessment (STOA) Panel, hosted a Photonics21 delegation supported by SPIE and the European Optical Society (EOS) last April. Goetzler, SPIE past president Brian Culshaw of the University of Strathclyde, and SPIE Fellow Patrick Meyrueis of Louis Pasteur Université Strasbourg were among those visiting Harbour’s committee.
In an effective example of how photonics affect quality of life, Svanberg detailed in a talk to the Life Sciences working group some advances that doctors would like to see in the early detection, treatment, and therapy of diseases. Her list included such applications as new combinations of treatment modalities, minimally invasive surgery to minimise unwanted side-effects, better diagnostics and classification of in particular early shallow cancer or polyps in large intestine, immediate reliable results of the detection procedure for making immediate treatment decisions, and others.
Svanberg said that the session illustrated how photonics in the medical field is better characterised as 'technology pull' rather than as 'technology driven', with initiative coming from the medical side where the challenges and still-unsolved problems are. The research into technological solutions for medical issues requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach, she noted.
Five new members were elected to the Photonics21Board of Stakeholders: Hans-Joachim Grallert, professor of Telecommunications at the Technical University of Berlin; Eckhard Meiners, managing director of Trumpf Laser Marking Systems AG; Jürgen Popp, scientific director at the Institute of Photonic Technology Jena; Klaas Vegter, chief technology officer of Philips Lighting; and Berit Wessler, head of Innovations Management at OSRAM Opto Semiconductors.