Wednesday is, by far, the busiest day of the week for industry events. In addition to panels on 3D printing; the conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold) rule; and getting hired; attendees can learn what makes for a great optics and photonics workplace, or listen to industry leaders share their perspectives on the world of optics and photonics. The SPIE Startup Challenge gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch new photonics businesses to a panel of judges for cash prizes, and the day ends with the gala PRISM Awards Banquet and Ceremony.

Alcatraz Island (Bruce A. Bennett)
For those diehard attendees who just can’t get enough, Thursday kicks off with a photonics industry update keynote address and ends with a commercialization and prototype showcase where attendees can meet one-on-one with the entrepreneurs who pitched their business ideas during Wednesday’s SPIE Startup Challenge.

A popular event for SPIE Fellows is the annual SPIE Fellows Luncheon, which will be held on Monday, February 15, from noon to 1:30 pm. This year’s speaker will be Prof. David Sampson from the University of Western Australia, who will speak about using optics to image cells in human tissues.


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 220 exhibitors in biomedical optics and photonics will be on display. The BiOS Expo, located in Moscone West, will be open on Saturday, February 13, from noon to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, February 14, from 10 am to 5:00 pm.

The main Photonics West exhibition opens on Tuesday, February 16 in Moscone North and South, and will 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

If you’ve never been to San Francisco, or even if you have, take some time before and after the show to explore the many scenic, cultural, and gastronomical pleasures the iconic City by the Bay has to offer.

Spend some time exploring the city’s diverse, multicultural neighborhoods from North Beach and Chinatown to the legendary Haight-Ashbury or Castro district. Ride up and down the hills on one of San Francisco’s classic cable cars, walk or bike 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 the ghosts of famous Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac still linger. Take a boat ride to Alcatraz Island and explore one of the world’s most notorious prisons. If shopping is your thing, the Union Square area offers everything from souvenir shops and boutiques to indoor malls and major department stores. And when those hunger pangs hit, you can find a restaurant serving any type of cuisine you crave from fresh seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf to tasty tacos and burritos in the Mission District.

When all is said and done, between the show and the city that hosts it, there will be no lack of stimulation for your mind, your body, and your soul.

To download the complete SPIE Photonics West 2016 program and register for the event, go to