Optics East Convention

Posted October 26, 2005

Continuing my attendance at random Boston conventions offering free exhibition passes, today I dropped by Optics East to see what was new in the scientific-industrial realm of optics and photonics.

Unfortunately the exhibition hall was a bit underwhelming... compared to the usual massive Hynes free-for-all, this was tucked away in a nearby hotel ballroom and was much more low-key and serious. As a mere spectator I was out of place, and didn't get a lot out of it. Still, can't beat the price. Heh.

For one I was happy to see MEMS Optical there, just to discover that they were still alive: for the longest time their web site had stalled with "news" from 2002, and they never replied to my email, so I had pegged them as a nearly defunct company with a zombie server still running and replaying past glories. They've now updated it a little, but they still have no way to buy their extremely neat 2D tiltable micromirror chips. I really want one — or an equivalent from someone else — to experiment with, but there are a lot of prototypes in this realm and not a lot of shipping products out there as far as I can tell.

Also interesting was New Scale Technologies, who were showing off their Squiggle piezoelectric motors. These are very tiny and very capable, having a wonderful combination of miniaturization, precision, range, speed, and force (not to mention qualities like vacuum-compatible and nonmagnetic). Again, I want some to experiment with... this seems to be a very common refrain...

That's all from the conference, but to flesh out this entry I'll throw in some fun optics-related links I've picked up elsewhere:

* Edit: According to Brad Rhodes the skull is transparent to near-infrared, so you can pick up blood flow a significant way into the cortex. Neat!