Optics: Form, Function
and the Future
BY JUSTINE MURPHY
For all of their diversity of form and function, the vast range of available optical components and optical fibers
have much in common — materials,
engineering and design, and techniques in
fabrication and metrology. And they are
among the critical enabling technologies
of the future.
Today, optical technologies are integral
to sensors, microscopes, lasers, cameras
and more, and the list keeps growing.
They are employed by the military for
field detection in submarines and IR
imaging on the battlefield. They can be
found on factory floors and in surgical
suites. The continuing commercialization
of optical fiber has put it at the core of
an increasingly connected world and
nontelecom applications continue to
expand, as well.
Several industry experts spoke recently
with Photonics Spectra, reflecting on the
state of the technologies when they first
joined the industry, how the industry and
optics have evolved in the years since,
and what they think the future may bring.
The experts are:
Jessica DeGroote Nelson, Ph.D.,
director of technology and strategy at
Optimax Systems Inc. in Rochester, N. Y.
Amy Eskilson, president and CEO of
Inrad Optics, based in Northvale, N.J.
Omur Sezerman, president, CEO and
Q: What were some notable tech-
Chairman of the Board of OZ Optics Ltd.
in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
nologies when you started in the
industry? How has the field evolved
Eskilson: The first large-scale commercial photonics application was gigabit-capable optical fiber for phone and data
communications. Thousands of kilometers of high-capacity optical fiber was
installed in the late 1990s to manage
the expected demand for bandwidth,
and investment dollars poured into the
industry. I recall trade show exhibits in
2000 that seemed to be populated with
as many financial sector attendees as