The SPIE Photonics West 2018 technical conference and exhibition returns to The Moscone Center in San Francisco, January 27 through February 1, offering attendees the opportunity to explore the latest innovations in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing and more. As in the past, the event will once again kick off with BiOS, the world's largest biomedical optics conference, before transitioning into the Photonics West conference and exhibition. Last year's event hosted more than 20,000 attendees and put the products and services of over 1,300 exhibitors on display. More than 4,800 technical papers and presentations will be available to conference participants throughout the week. (weblink here )

Technical Conference

Coherent had one of the bigger booths last year at SPIE Photonics West. (Bruce A. Bennett)

Like last year, this year's technical program consists of three separate conferences – BiOS, LASE and OPTO - designed to help attendees quickly and accurately find their areas of interest.

BiOS: BiOS, which is the world's largest biomedical optics conference, gives attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in the areas of biomedical optics, diagnostics and therapeutics, new imaging modalities, optical coherence tomography, and tissue optics. The conference, which features over 2,400 papers and presentations, is divided into six tracks:

  • Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics

  • Neurophotonics, Neurosurgery, and Optogenetics

  • Clinical Technologies and Systems

  • Tissue Optics, Laser-Tissue Interaction, and Tissue Engineering

  • Biomedical Spectroscopy, Microscopy, and Imaging

  • Nano/Biophotonics

LASE: LASE, which is billed as “the industrial laser, laser source, and laser application conference,” offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest laser manufacturing; laser materials processing; micro-nano packaging; fiber, diode, and solid state lasers; laser resonators; ultrafast, semiconductor lasers and LEDs; and 3D fabrication technologies. Featuring 900 papers and presentations, the four conference tracks offered by LASE are:

  • Laser Sources

  • Nonlinear Optics and Beam Guiding

  • Micro-/Nano Applications

  • Macro Applications

The SPIE Photonics West entrance foyer is a popular gathering spot. (Bruce A. Bennett)

OPTO: OPTO is the Optoelectronics and Photonics Conference portion of SPIE Photonics West, devoted to addressing the latest developments in a broad range of optoelectronic technologies. With 2,000 papers and presentations, attendees can expect to learn about the latest in silicon photonics, photonic crystals, optoelectronics, semiconductor lasers, quantum dots, and nanophotonics. 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

Specialized Tracks

Crowds stream into the SPIE Photonics West 2017 exhibit hall on opening day. (Bruce A. Bennett)

Brain 2018: Officially added to the SPIE Photonics West lineup last year, Brain 2018 will highlight papers from BiOS, LASE, and OPTO that describe the development of innovative technologies to increase our understanding of brain function. Available presentations will be broken up into three categories:

  • Clinical and Translational Neurophotonics, Optogenetics, and Optical Manipulation

  • Clinical Technologies, Laser Tissue Interaction, and Tissue Engineering

  • Spectroscopy, Microscopy, Imaging, Nanobiophotonics, and LASE

Translational Research: SPIE Translational Research 2018 will highlight papers from BiOS that showcase the latest photonics technologies, tools, and techniques with high potential to impact healthcare. Topic areas to be covered include:

  • Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics

  • Neurophotonics, Neurosurgery, and Optogenetics

  • Clinical Technologies and Systems

  • Tissue Optics, Laser-Tissue Interaction, and Tissue Engineering

  • Biomedical Spectroscopy, Microscopy, and Imaging

  • Nano/Biophotonics

3D Printing: SPIE Applications of 3D Printing 2018 will again highlight papers from BiOS, LASE, and OPTO that showcase innovative ways to apply this new multidimensional/multidisciplinary technology. Topics to be addressed 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

Courses and Workshops

Colorful Haight-Ashbury still reflects its counterculture past. (Bruce A. Bennett)

This year's SPIE Photonics West will offer more than 70 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. There is also a selection of 2-hour courses for non-technical staff, called Snapshots, that cover a variety of interesting topics such as:

  • The Very Least You Need to Know About Optics

  • Fundamentals of Optical Engineering

  • Basic Optics for Non-Optics Personnel

  • Additive Manufacturing of Metals - Powder Bed Fusion and Directed Energy Deposition

  • Biomedical Optics: Imaging Biomarker Basics

  • Introduction to VR, AR, MR and Smart Eyewear: Market Expectations, Hardware Requirements and Investment Patterns

Some of these courses have fees involved, so if interested it would be wise to check in advance.

Industry & Social Networking Events

A variety of unique industry and social networking events are planned for this year's SPIE Photonics West.

On Monday from 5:00 - 7:00 pm there will be a Women in Optics and Diversity & Inclusion Program and Reception featuring a presentation by Dr. Alexis Vogt, Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Optics at Monroe Community College. Immediately following that event will be the always popular Photonics West Welcome Reception from 7:00 - 8:30 pm in the Photonics Arcade. Open to all conference attendees, the reception will feature San Francisco-inspired cuisine and arcade-inspired cocktails, as well as popular arcade games like pinball and Pac Man.

For those taking part in the Startup Challenge, there is a pitch clinic to help polish entrepreneurship skills on Monday from 9 am - 12:00 pm, followed by a networking lunch with judges and mentors.

Another popular event is the Speed Networking Social, being held on Tuesday, January 30 from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at the ThirstyBear Brewing Company near the Moscone Center.

Looking for a job? Be sure to check out the Job Fair where prospective employers do their best to attract top talent. Held on Tuesday and Wednesday, this year's Job Fair will feature over 30 recruiters from such blue-chip companies as Apple, Daylight Solutions, DSI, KLA Tencor, Lumentum, Microsoft, NCT, Newport, Rockley, and Thorlabs.


The Edmund Optics booth at SPIE Photonics West 2017. (Bruce A. Bennett)

For many attendees, the high point of the event is the exhibits where they can see, feel and learn about the latest products and technology on display. As always, kicking off this year's Photonics West week is the BiOS Expo where the products and technologies of the biomedical optics and photonics industries will be on display. The BiOS Expo will be open on Saturday, January 27 from 10 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, January 28 from 10 am to 4:00 pm.

The main Photonics West exhibition opens on Tuesday, January 30 and will showcase the products and services of more than 1300 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 and Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm.

After Hours

There are benefits to holding a show like Photonics West in one of the world's most interesting cities. If you're not too tired from seminars, networking events, and prowling the show floor, try to spend some time exploring San Francisco. There's plenty to see and do.

Enjoy exercising? Forget going to the gym and try walking or running up and down some of the city's legendary hills. History? Take a boat ride to Alcatraz Island, or research the Beat Generation at the City Lights bookstore. Architecture? Marvel at such iconic buildings as the Transamerica Pyramid; the green, triangular-shaped Columbus Tower (a.k.a. the Sentinel Building); or San Francisco's magnificent city hall with its gilded dome that stands taller than the U.S. Capitol. Ride a cable car; grab some fresh seafood on Fisherman's Wharf; or explore the diversity and character of San Francisco's colorful neighborhoods like North Beach, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown or the Castro.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in San Francisco, one thing is certain. Between SPIE Photonics West and the sights of San Francisco, you won't get bored. You're sure to find what the city has to offer a fitting complement to what you'll see and learn at this year's SPIE Photonics West 2018.

To download the complete SPIE Photonics West 2018 program and register for the event, go here .