Report to the IUPAP Council and Commission Chairs Meeting
September 28-29, 2001
The field of quantum electronics concerns itself with lasers, other sources of coherent electromagnetic waves and the interaction of coherent radiation with matter. This field is extremely healthy and active both in academia and industry. This is very positive but also presents some challenges for IUPAP in terms of how it can best interact with and serve the quantum electronics community.
On the positive side quantum electronics represents an enabling science and technology and offers several new developments almost every year. These touch on many areas of science, not only in physics but also chemistry, biology as well as medicine and engineering.
Within the past year, and just in the physics domain, there have been major developments in:
1) quantum information processing with advances towards quantum computing
2) femtosecond pulse physics with hints that the attosecond barrier may soon be broken
3) development of blue diode lasers, mode-locked quantum cascade lasers in the infrared, and novel organic and organo-metallic lasers
4) new types of 3-D photonic crystals made out of silicon with complete band gaps in the infrared region at the telecom wavelength of 1-5 years
5) the use of the phase properties of light to control and optimize high harmonic generation and physical properties of semiconductors. This form of coherence or quantum control is also leaving a major impact in chemistry.
In terms of subject area there is active involvement of C-17 with commission C-15 as well as the affiliated commission AC-1, the international commission on optics.
On the industrial side lasers continue to have a large impact with the development of new types of sources such as efficient fibre lasers. Within the last 18 months, particularly in North America, several new, small start-up companies have joined the already large pool of companies working in photonics. On the telecom side however the steep rise in market capitalization in 1999 and 2000 was met with a significant decline since September of 2000. This has had a particularly large impact on companies such as Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies. Such massive changes in the industry have had large effects on employment dynamics.
Because quantum electronics has grown to encompass so many different scientific thrusts, and because the members of our Commission reflect that diversity, it has been difficult to get the membership of the commission together at one conference in a given year. For the past 3 years essentially all of our business has been done via e-mail.
There are now large numbers of conferences related to quantum electronics which are held every year. Our Commission continues to help sponsor about two per year. This past summer through IUPAP we helped to sponsor:
1) The 17th International Conference on Nonlinear Optics (ICONO 2001) in Minsk, Belarus, June 28-July 1, 2001
2) The Seventh Conference on squeezed states and uncertainty relations (ICSSUR 2001) in Boston, USA, June 4-8, 2001
For this coming year we are considering proposals to have IUPAP sponsor:
1) The International Quantum Electronics Conference for Moscow, Russia
2.) The 9th Conference on Laser Applications in Life Science for Vilnius, Lithuania
There is an emerging sense however that IUPAP's or C17's influence in the conference domain is waning, particularly because of the growth of several societies which are focused in quantum electronics. These are based in the USA but nonetheless serve the international community. These include:
1) Optical Society of America
2) SPIE - The Optical Engineering Society
3) IEEE - Lasers and Electro-Optics Society
These organizations continue to grow with the field in membership and volume of publications and also sponsor large numbers of conferences, many with significant industrial participation. However in many cases the registration fees for the conferences tend to exceed the IOPAP guidelines. As a result the types of conferences C17 is tending to sponsor are A type conferences outside of North America and Western Europe as well as more specialized B-type conferences. This puts us out of the mainstream of the quantum electronics community but nonetheless still allows us to serve sponsor conferences in less developed countries as well as focused topics within quantum electronics.
H.M. van Driel