The SPIE Photonics West 2015 technical conference and exhibition, taking place February 7-12 at The Moscone Center in San Francisco, offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest technological developments in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing and more. Incorporating BiOS, the world’s largest biomedical optics conference, the event will offer its anticipated 20,000 attendees the opportunity to access roughly 4700 technical papers and view the products and services of more than 1250 exhibitors over the course of a week ( ).

Technical Conference

Moscone Center in San Francisco (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

This year’s technical program consists of six separate symposiums designed to help attendees more quickly and accurately target their areas of interest.

BiOS: The world's largest biomedical optics conference, BiOS gives attendees an opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in the areas of biomedical optics, diagnostics and therapeutics, biophotonics, new imaging modalities, optical coherence tomography, neurophotonics, optogenetics, and tissue optics. The conference is divided into five tracks:

  • Photonic Therapeutics/Diagnostics
  • Clinical Technologies and Systems
  • Tissue Optics, Laser-Tissue Interaction, and Tissue Engineering
  • Biomedical Spectroscopy, Microscopy, and Imaging
  • Nano/Biophotonics

Translational Research: SPIE Translational Research 2015, will highlight papers from BiOS that showcase the latest photonics technologies, tools, and techniques with high potential to impact healthcare. It is divided into the same five tracks as its BiOS counterpart.

LASE: LASE is the Laser Technology and Industrial Laser Conference where attendees can learn about the latest laser manufacturing, laser materials processing, micro-nano packaging, fiber, diode, solid state lasers, laser resonators, ultra-fast semiconductor lasers and LEDs, and 3D fabrication technologies. The five conference tracks offered by LASE are:

  • Laser Source Engineering
  • Nonlinear Optics
  • Semiconductor Lasers and LEDs
  • Laser Micro-/Nanoengineering
  • Laser Applications
The busy show floor at SPIE Photonics West (Photo: SPIE Photonics West)

OPTO: OPTO is the Optoelectronics and Photonics Conference part of SPIE Photonics West devoted to addressing the latest developments in a broad range of optoelectronic technologies and their integration for a variety of commercial applications. Attendees will hear the latest on silicon photonics, photonic crystals, optoelectronics, semiconductor lasers, quantum dots, nanophotonics research. OPTO is organized into eight conference program tracks:

  • Optoelectronic Materials and Devices
  • Photonic Integration
  • Nanotechnologies in Photonics
  • MOEMS-MEMS in Photonics
  • Advanced Quantum and Optoelectronic Applications
  • Semiconductor Lasers and LEDs
  • Displays and Holography
  • Optical Communications: Devices to Systems

Green Photonics: SPIE Green Photonics 2015 highlights papers from OPTO and LASE that showcase the latest photonics and optoelectronic tools and materials that will reduce power consumption, enable cleaner manufacturing, and create new energy generation for a broad range of applications. Topic areas to be addressed during the Green Photonics symposium include:

  • Laser-assisted Manufacturing and Micro/Nano Fabrication
  • Renewable Energy Generation: Fusion and Photovoltaics
  • Solid State Lighting and Displays
  • Communications

3D Printing: SPIE Applications of 3D Printing 2015 highlights papers from BiOS, LASE, and OPTO that showcase innovative ways to apply this new multidimensional/ multidisciplinary technology. Topics to be addressed during this portion of the conference include:

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Selective laser melting, laser sintering, laser photopolymerization
  • Novel materials, protean materials, and laser interactions
  • Software that increases efficiencies and speed
  • In-situ sensors or probes to verify and quantify additive manufacturing processes in real time
  • Conformal photonics/electronics

Professional Development

Historic City Lights bookstore and Vesuvio Café (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

This year’s SPIE Photonics West offers 65 half- and full-day courses and workshops designed to help you stay competitive and advance your career. You will have an opportunity to learn current approaches in lasers and applications, sensors, imaging, IR systems, optical & optomechanical engineering and more, as well as earn CEUs toward fulfilling ongoing professional education requirements. Some of the new and featured courses being offered include:

  • Head Mounted Displays for Augmented Reality Applications
  • Laser Systems Engineering
  • Powering and Integration of Laser Diode Systems
  • Laser Diode Beam Basics, Characteristics, and Manipulations
  • Vibration Control for Optomechanical Systems
  • Introduction to Quantitative Phase Imaging (QPI)
  • Photon Upconversion Nanomaterials, Technologies and Biomedical Applications
  • Flow Cytometry Trends & Drivers
  • Laser Welding and Drilling Fundamentals & Practices
  • Monte Carlo Modeling Explained
  • A Practical Guide to Specifying Optical Components
  • Cost Conscious Tolerancing of Optical Systems
  • MTF in Optical and ElectroOptical Systems

Industry Events

A number of unique industry events are planned for this year’s SPIE Photonics West. On Monday, February 9, there will be a Cluster Reception and “Photonics Industry Update” Presentation hosted by SPIE where leaders from regional optics and photonics clusters can connect with each other over drinks and appetizers to compare notes and get an industry update from Stephen Anderson.

On Tuesday there will be panels and presentations on a variety of topical issues including ITAR and other international trade regulations, 3D printing, managing your intellectual property, and a roundtable discussion on Category XII of the U.S. Munitions List (USML).

Wednesday features a host of interesting events including panel discussions on both hiring top talent and getting hired, as well as a panel featuring some of the industry’s top executives sharing their insights and perspectives on current trends and opportunities in the optics and photonics markets. Closing out Wednesday evening will be the annual PRISM awards ceremony and banquet honoring the most innovative new photonic products on the market.

Thursday is devoted to marketing with two panel discussions on tap: Inbound Marketing — How to Bring Customers to You; and a marketing roundtable on Wins and Lessons Learned.

A popular event for SPIE Fellows is the annual SPIE Fellows Luncheon, which will be held on Monday, February 9, from noon to 1:30 pm. This year’s speaker will be Prof. Shuji Nakamura of the University of California Santa Barbara, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, who will speak about growing blue nitride-based LEDs hetero-epitaxially on sapphire, SiC, and Si substrates.

And for those seeking employment or a career change, don’t miss the job fair on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm with more than 30 recruiters.


For many attendees, the high point of the event is the exhibitions. Kicking off this year’s Photonics West week is the BiOS Expo where the products and technologies of 210 exhibitors in biomedical optics and photonics will be on display. The BiOS Expo will be open on Saturday, February 7, from noon to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, February 8, from 10 am to 5:00 pm.

The main Photonics West exhibition opens on Tuesday, February 10, and is expected to showcase the products and services of more than 1250 exhibitors specializing in lasers, photonics, optics, fiber optics, imaging and sensing equipment, lenses and filters, metrology, and more. The Photonics West show floor will be open on Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm.

After Hours

One of the great things about SPIE Photonics West is that it’s held in San Francisco, so if you have any energy left after a full day of technical sessions and prowling the show floor, there’s always plenty to see and do.

Spend some time exploring the city’s colorful, multicultural neighborhoods from North Beach to Chinatown to the legendary Haight-Ashbury. Ride up and down the hills on one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars, walk across the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge (1.7 miles long, 220 feet above the water), or visit the historic City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio Café where you can still feel the ghosts of famous Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. If you like seafood and don’t mind feeling like a tourist, visit the world famous Fisher man’s Wharf. Or you can just wander around the city marveling at the eclectic mix of architectural styles.

Whatever you choose to do, one thing is certain. Considering all that this year’s SPIE Photonics West and its host city have to offer, both your days and nights are bound to be an interesting and enriching experience.