The SPIE Photonics West exhibit hall entry foyer at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. (Image: Bruce A. Bennett)

The SPIE Photonics West 2023 technical conference and exhibition is once again returning to The Moscone Center in San Francisco from January 28 to February 2, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing and more.

As in past years, the event will kick off with BiOS, the world’s largest biomedical optics conference, before transitioning into the Photonics West conference and exhibition. This year’s event is expected to host more than 20,000 attendees who will be able to browse the products and services of approximately 1,000 exhibitors, choose from over 50 educational courses, and access more than 4,400 technical papers during the conference.

Technical Conference

Attendees stream into the exhibit hall at SPIE Photonics West 2022. (Image: Bruce A. Bennett)

This year’s technical program consists of four separate conferences – BiOS, LASE, OPTO, and Quantum West – all designed to help attendees save time and energy by focusing on their areas of interest.

BiOS: Billed as “The most important biomedical optics conference in the field,” BiOS takes place on January 28 & 29 and gives attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest advances in the areas of biomedical optics, diagnostics and therapeutics, biophotonics, new imaging modalities, optical coherence tomography, neurophotonics, optogenetics, tissue optics, and nanophotonics. This year, BiOS will feature 49 technical conferences divided into six technical 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, also known as “the industrial laser, laser source, and laser application conference,” offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest fiber, diode, and solid state lasers; vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers (VECSELs); laser-based micro- and nanoprocessing; laser 3D manufacturing; high-power laser materials processing; ultrafast optics; laser resonators, microresonators, and beam control; nonlinear frequency generation and conversion; and laser system packaging. A total of 16 conferences will be divided up into four tracks:

  • Laser Sources

  • Nonlinear Optics and Beam Guiding

  • Micro-/Nano Applications

  • Macro Applications

OPTO: OPTO is designed to highlight all facets of optoelectronics, photonics materials, and devices. Attendees can expect to learn about the latest advances in silicon photonics, photonic crystals, optoelectronics, semiconductor lasers, and nanophotonics. OPTO will feature 36 conferences organized into eight technical 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

Quantum West: New for 2023, Quantum West will showcase the many possibilities of “Quantum 2.0,” the future of applied quantum technologies to solve entirely new challenges and provide unique capabilities in large-scale systems. Among the current and future quantum applications to be addressed at this conference will be:

  • Quantum Information Systems

  • Quantum Communications

  • Quantum Computing and Simulation

  • Quantum Sensing, Imaging, and Timing Systems

  • Enabling Materials, Devices, and Techniques

Applications Tracks

SPIE Photonics West’s application tracks group presentations on a specific topic together within the program so that participants can easily locate presentations specific to their areas of professional interest. This year, the five focused topic areas are: AI/ML, Net Zero, brain function, translational research, and 3D printing.

AI/ML: This track will feature papers that showcase the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning to create and implement intelligent systems across multiple sectors, technologies, and applications.

Net Zero: As international governments set aggressive targets for achieving net zero energy consumption, waste, and carbon emissions, optics and photonics will be key to the success of those goals.

Brain Function: This track will provide an opportunity to share papers describing the development of innovative technologies that will increase our understanding of brain function.

The exhibit hall at SPIE Photonics West 2022. (Image: Bruce A. Bennett)

Translational Research: SPIE Translational Research 2023 will highlight the latest photonics technologies, tools, and techniques with high potential to impact the healthcare industry.

3D Printing: SPIE’s 3D Printing track will highlight papers that showcase innovative ways to apply this multidimensional technology across a variety of multidisciplinary applications.

Educational Courses

This year’s SPIE Photonics West will offer over 50 courses designed to help you stay competitive and advance your career. Created and taught by experts, SPIE courses cover a variety of topics including optomechanics, AR/VR/ MR/HMD, quantum, optical coherence tomography, optical systems design and more. Take what you learn in class and apply it directly to your work. Some of the courses being offered this year include:

  • Understanding Diffractive Optics

  • Solid State Laser Technology

  • Optical Metrology for AR/VR/MR

  • Quantum Computing: A Concise Introduction

  • Silicon Photonics

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

Industry & Social Networking Events

There are a variety of industry and social networking events planned for this year’s SPIE Photonics West.

On Sunday, January 29 from 2:30 - 3:30 pm there will be a BiOS Expo Networking Reception in the exhibit hall to give attendees an opportunity to meet and socialize with the exhibitors. Later that day, from 5:00 - 6:00 pm, there will be a SPIE Community Development Showcase primarily aimed at students interested in participating in future events, followed by a Women in Optics Meetup from 6:30 - 7:30 pm. The day will wrap up with a BiOS Publications Reception for all volunteers who serve as Editors for the Journal of Biomedical Optics or Neurophotonics from 8:00 - 9:00 pm.

On Monday, January 30, there will be a Photonics Cluster Reception at the InterContinental Hotel from 3:00 - 7:00 pm, a SPIE Student and Early Career Professional Member social and speed-networking event sponsored by the SPIE Career Lab from 5:00 - 6:00 pm in the Moscone Center Level 2 West area, an Executive Women’s Meetup offsite at the InterContinental Hotel from 6:30-7:30 pm, and the always popular Photonics West Welcome Reception in the Yerba Buena Ballroom from 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

Tuesday, January 31, SPIE will host an App Lounge in the Moscone Center, South Lower Lobby from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm where attendees can join the SPIE mobile app team to learn how to plan their week, explore the exhibition, and utilize features that can help them even after the event. One very popular event that returns this year is a whiskey tasting at the SPIE Booth (#3239) from 1:00 - 5:00 pm in the afternoon. There will be a Career Networking Mixer from 4:00 - 5:00 pm where attendees can chat with recruiters from the Job Fair and other industry and academia professionals about careers in the optics industry, the SPIE Publications Reception-OPTO and LASE for all volunteers who serve as editors for SPIE journals from 5:00 - 6:00, and the LGBTQ+ Social from 6:30 - 7:30 pm in Moscone Center, Level 2 West.

Wednesday, February 1, will feature a second round of whiskey tasting at the SPIE Booth in Hall D from 1:00 - 5:00 pm, a SPIE Student Member Meetup from 4:30 - 5:30 pm, a Black in Photonics Meetup in Moscone Center, Level 2 West from 5:30 - 6:30 pm, and a Career Lab Connection Reception from 7:00 - 8:30 pm where students and early career professionals can wind down after the BiOS Poster Session with a drink and relaxed conversation with colleagues and topic experts.

Networking opportunities will wrap up on Thursday, February 2 with a gala Photonics West Networking Reception on the show floor from 2:30 - 3:30 pm.

In addition, there will be a job fair, free headshots by professional photographers, and the always popular Startup Challenge, a pitch competition that is a lively, interactive event showcasing the power of entrepreneurs to move photonics technology to the global marketplace. The top entrepreneurs with pre-seed and seed stage businesses will have just five minutes to pitch their businesses to a team of expert judges.


One of the many technical presentations at SPIE Photonics West 2022. (Image: Bruce A. Bennett)

For many attendees, the high point of the event is the exhibits where they can see, touch, 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 leading companies in the biomedical optics and photonics industries will be on display. The BiOS Expo will be open on Saturday, January 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, January 29 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The main Photonics West exhibition opens on Tuesday, January 31 and will showcase the products and services of close to 1000 exhibitors who specialize 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 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Thursday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

After Hours

The Edmund Optics booth at SPIE Photonics West 2022 (Image: Bruce A. Bennett)

One of the benefits of attending Photonics West is that it’s held in San Francisco, one of the America’s most interesting cities.

If you enjoy walking or running, try challenging some of the city’s legendary hills or explore some of the city’s many diverse, colorful neighborhoods like Chinatown, North Beach, the Castro, or Haight-Ashbury. Alcatraz Island is a must-see tourist destination, as is the Fisherman’s Wharf area. If you have the time, try taking a 1.7-mile walk across Golden Gate Bridge, which is not only good exercise, it’s incredibly exciting if you have even the slightest fear of heights.

Regardless of how you spend your time in the Bay Area, one thing is certain. Between SPIE Photonics West and all that San Francisco has to offer, you won’t get bored.

To download the complete SPIE Photonics West 2023 program and register for the event, go here .