The SPIE Photonics West 2019 technical conference and exhibition returns to The Moscone Center in San Francisco, February 2 through February 7, 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. (visit here )

Technical Conference

As in previous years, this year's technical program consists of three separate conferences – BiOS, LASE and OPTO - designed to help attendees quickly and accurately access their areas of interest.

BiOS: BiOS, 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, biophotonics, new imaging modalities, optical coherence tomography, neurophotonics, optogenetics, and tissue optics. The conference, which features over 2,500 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

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

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

OPTO: OPTO is the Optoelectronics, Photonics Materials and Devices Conference, 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, LEDs, and Applications

  • Displays and Holography

  • Optical Communications: Devices to Systems

The iconic Fisherman's Wharf sign in San Francisco. (Bruce A. Bennett)

Applications Tracks

Brain/Neuro Research: SPIE Brain 2019 will highlight papers that describe the development of innovative technologies to increase our understanding of brain function. Available presentations will focus on four areas:

  • Clinical and Translational Neurophotonics

  • Neural Imaging, Sensing, Optogenetics, and Optical Manipulation

  • Clinical Technologies, Laser Tissues Interaction, and Tissue Engineering

  • Nanobiophotonics

Translational Research: SPIE Translational Research 2019 will highlight papers that showcase the latest photonics technologies, tools, and techniques with high potential to impact healthcare. Topic areas to be covered will 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

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

3D Printing: SPIE Applications of 3D Printing 2019 will again highlight papers that showcase innovative ways to apply this multidimensional/multidisciplinary technology. Topics to be addressed will 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

Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality Conference 2019

Officially launched last year, the second annual AR VR MR Conference will feature presentations and demonstrations from some of the biggest names in consumer electronics and up-and-coming XR companies. The two-day event will include courses, panel discussions, free demonstrations, a student design challenge, and an opportunity to network with companies looking for talent. It's free to attend, but you must register.

Courses and Workshops

This year's SPIE Photonics West will offer more than 70 courses and workshops in 24 program tracks 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. There is also a selection of 2-hour courses for sales, marketing, and industry professionals, 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

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

The OptoSigma booth at SPIE Photonics West 2018. (Bruce A. Bennett)

These courses have fees involved, so if interested it would be wise to register in advance.

Industry & Social Networking Events

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

On Monday morning, February 4, from 8:00 - 9:00 am there will be an Early Career Networking Breakfast where young professionals can connect with their peers and the volunteer leadership of SPIE while enjoying a complimentary buffet breakfast. Seating is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Later that day, from 5:00 - 6:30 pm, there will be a Full Spectrum Photonics Presentation and Reception hosted by SPIE Women in Optics and SPIE Diversity & Inclusion that will look to improve gender and social equity across all scientific disciplines and job sectors.

Finally, Monday wraps up with the always popular Photonics West Welcome Reception from 7:00 - 8:30 pm. The theme of this year's event is superheros. Conference badges are required, but spandex suits and capes are optional.

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.

On Tuesday, February 5, there is a Speed Networking Social from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at the ThirstyBear Brewing Company near the Moscone Center, followed by a LGBTQ Social from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. Those interested in attending the LGBTQ social should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to RSVP and learn location details.

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 from 10 am - 5 pm, this year's Job Fair will feature over 30 recruiters from such blue-chip companies as BAE Systems, Coherent, Daylight Solutions, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Luminar Technologies, Newport, OSRAM, SCHOTT, and Thorlabs.


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 more than 200 of the leading companies in the biomedical optics and photonics industries will be on display. The BiOS Expo will be open on Saturday, February 2 from 10 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, February 3 from 10 am to 4:00 pm.

The main Photonics West exhibition opens on Tuesday, February 5 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.

NOX the Robot at SPIE Photonics West 2018. (Bruce A. Bennett)

After Hours

If you have any energy left after pounding the show floor all day or attending workshops and seminars, get out and see some of San Francisco, arguably one of the world's most interesting cities.

Chinese New Year, celebrating the year of the pig, falls on Tuesday, February 5, making a visit to San Francisco's colorful Chinatown a must.

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, or the Castro.

Regardless of what you choose to do in San Francisco, one thing is certain. Between SPIE Photonics West and all the city has to offer, you won't get bored.

To download the complete SPIE Photonics West 2019 program and register for the event, go here .