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Established Optical Society Sees the Light in Graphene

Posted By Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum, Saturday, October 8, 2016
Updated: Thursday, October 6, 2016

SPIE—the international society for optics and photonics—has been a society set up to advance light-based technologies since 1955. In this role, it has offered its members conferences, news services and a range of different avenues for exchanging information on this quickly developing field.

As evidence of its commitment to staying ahead of the latest science and technologies in photonics and optics, SPIE has been offering conferences on the topic of graphene since 2009. SPIE has identified graphene and other two-dimensional materials as a key area of interest for its members because of the properties these new materials are offering in the field.

The Graphene Council certainly shares in SPIE’s interest in how two-dimensional materials, including graphene, will play a key role in optoelectronics and photonics, with our frequent coverage of these two fields. 

Now that SPIE has become one of our Corporate Members we took the opportunity to speak to Robert F. Hainsey, Ph.D., the Director of Science and Technology for SPIE to ask him about the role graphene is positioned to play in optics and photonics, how the market is developing and the role of SPIE as these developments evolve.

Q: Graphene has exhibited a number of appealing properties for applications within photonics and optoelectronics, so it’s clear to see why SPIE would become involved with the topic. But could you tell us a little bit about the evolution of how SPIE started getting involved in the topic of graphene? 

A:  SPIE has a long history of supporting the topic of graphene having launched a volunteer-inspired conference at our Optics + Photonics event held annually in San Diego as early as 2009.  The topic appears in a number of other SPIE conferences as well.  In 2014, Frank Koppens of ICFO delivered an excellent plenary talk on the subject at our Photonics Europe event in Brussels, and this led, in turn, to Frank Koppens and Nathalie Vermeulen of the B-PHOT team at Vrije Universiteit Brussel organizing and chairing a full-day workshop at this year’s Photonic Europe event on applications and commercialization of graphene.  We continue to look for methods to enable the community to best share results and exchange ideas in this rapidly evolving field.

Q: How is SPIE now approaching the topic, i.e. what sort of mediums are you using to get the message out about graphene? How do you see this information serving your members? 

A:  The information is disseminated in a number of ways.  Primary among these methods are our conferences which enable researchers to share and discuss the latest findings in the area of graphene and similar materials.  The work shared in those conferences is then packaged into proceedings and made part of the SPIE Digital Library so as to share the results with a wider audience.  We also have our journals where researchers can publish their results in a peer-reviewed medium.  The “SPIE Professional” magazine, the quarterly magazine for our members, has included articles in this area including one written by Frank Koppens earlier this year.  Naturally, we share news about graphene research on our News Room webpage, via Twitter and through our LinkedIn groups.  In terms of serving our members, we hope that this diverse set of methods of sharing information keeps our members informed on the latest work in the field and stimulates discussion among researchers to advance the field.

Q: There are a number of different applications within photonic and optoelectronics in which graphene has exhibited promise. In one of your more recent conferences on graphene, communication applications were identified as the most near-term. Has SPIE begun to get a better feel of how graphene applications within photonics and optoelectronics are developing commercially? And could you give us an outline of that development? 

A:  The workshop you refer to is a positive step towards moving graphene along the commercialization pipeline.  This workshop served to bring together academic and industrial researchers as well as entrepreneurs and start-up companies to discuss what is needed to move graphene from a laboratory to a production setting.  A look at the program for that event illustrates that large enterprises are investing in the research.  In addition, more start-up’s are appearing on the scene at various positions of the value chain.  Progress is being made on the road to full-scale production but there is still work to be done.

Q: Is SPIE involved with any of the standards bodies that are attempting to create industry standards for the material? Whether you are involved or not, does SPIE have a position on the role of materials standards as the material becomes increasingly commercialized?

A:  At this point we are not actively engaged in the work on developing standards outside of the presentations given in our conferences.  That said, one sign of research maturing and preparing to transition to a production environment is the discussion and adoption of standards.  Standards are oftentimes crucial since they provide a baseline for methods and performance by which the industry can determine capability and map progress.  SPIE supports standards development in other areas through methods such as providing meeting space for standards bodies at our events.  We would welcome dialogue with standards bodies in this area to determine if there is a way SPIE can more actively support that work.

Q: How do you see SPIE’s role in graphene education and providing information evolving as the field moves from the lab to the fab? Does the approach to disseminating information on a topic change as it moves from research to commercial interests? 

A:  Certainly the topic will continue to be a vibrant one in our conferences, our proceedings, the SPIE Digital Library, and our social media outlets.  SPIE events also include a set of industry sessions containing presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities focused on the commercial aspects of optics and photonics technologies.  This combination of conferences, publications, and industry sessions positions SPIE events to track the migration of the technology as it matures.  The flexibility we have within our events to include unique offerings such as the dedicated workshop on graphene commercialization at the SPIE Photonics Europe event earlier this year allows SPIE to tailor the forum to best serve the community.

Q: How does partnering with groups, such as The Graphene Council, help or contribute to your strategy in education and providing information on the topic of graphene?

A:  SPIE is an organization dedicated to serving the optics and photonics community.  Partnering with other organizations to further the sharing of information and enhancing the discussion around technologies not only helps SPIE meet its charter but, more importantly, enables the advancement of research, science, engineering and practical applications in these technologies.

Tags:  corporate members  optoelectronics  photonics  SPIE 

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