The purpose of this article is to review the key emerging innovations in laser and photonics systems as well as their design and integration, focusing on challenges and opportunities for solutions of societal challenges. Developments, their significance, and frontier challenges are explained in advanced manufacturing, biomedicine and healthcare, and communication. Systems, networks, and integration issues and challenges are then discussed, and an integration framework for networking laser- and photonic-based services and products is proposed. The article concludes with implications and an agenda for education, research and development, and policy needs, with a focus on human, society,science, and technology integration.
Keywords:Advanced manufacturing; Laser processing; Healthcare; Optical communication; Preci-sion collaboration
1. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this article 1 is 1) to summarize the key emerging innovations that address solutions for societal grand challenges and 2) to present a framework for research and education priorities and global policy needs, with a focus on human, society, science, and Laser and Photonic Systems Integration technology integration. The goal of the symposium and of this article is to stimulate frontier thinking and to accelerate the delivery of innovations and solutions in the emerging area. Photonics (the science, engineering, and technology of light) is an important enabling field with diverse applications. Laser and photonics are already consid- ered transformative and potentially as significant for innovations as information technology, steam power, and electronics have been. Over the 50 years since its invention, laser technology has been applied to over- come obstacles in manufacturing, medicine, commu- nication, and other fields, and its economic impact is growing rapidly (e.g., Savage, 2012; T ̈ unnermann, 2012). Definition of some terms related to laser and photonic systems are included in the Appendix; in- troductory background in books by Quimby (2006), Hecht (2008), and Silfvast (2008); and in handbooks (Kasap, Ruda, & Boucher, 2012; Tr ̈ ager, 2012). Three recent reports by the National Academy of Engineering (2008, 2010, 2012) have also addressed related topics.
The opportunities to solve significant problems and challenges with creative and innovative laser and pho- tonic systems are vast. Examples of the importance of photonics, which have emerged in just the past two decades include:
In advanced manufacturing, high-power lasers perform precise drilling, cutting, and welding, as well as nanoprocessing; microprocessors are fabricated today by optical lithography; man- ufacturing of photonics products, such as op- toelectronic components, visual displays, and solar equipment could not be possible with- out the precision and measured energy proper- ties inherent in photonics-based processes and techniques. In medicine and healthcare, photonics and op- toelectronics enable better, higher-resolution medical imaging for early disease detection, di- agnosis, and prevention; brain, eye, skin, and dental surgeries rely on medical lasers to vapor- ize, ablate, cut, and suture; laser-based DNA sequencing of a single human genome can be completed today in one day, compared with 80 years in the 1990s. In communications, photonic integrated cir- cuits imply lower power consumption, better reconfigurability, and faster processing; com- puter clusters in data centers communicate through high-capacity optical cables, engaging millions of lasers for signaling, to process mas- sivecomputations;cellphonecommunications, Internet work, and video chat signals are pro- cessed as optical data and transmitted through fiber-optic networks, enabling dramatic im- provements in fast, reliable, and cost-effective services.
Three unique features enabled by laser and photonic systems are observed: dental laser tips
,1. Processing at multiple scales, from nano-, micro-, to large-scale objects, and from local to remote subjects; 2. Processing and delivery of laser fields at ultra- fast speeds and frequencies, and the ability to shape and reshape them; and 3. Theabilitytobringcloser(almosttogether)the process and its process control by significantly faster sensing and communication. The following sections describe the development and explain the observations and their significance in advanced manufacturing (Section 2), biomedicine and healthcare (Section 3), and communication (Section 4). Systems, networks, and integration issues and challenges are then discussed in Section 5, followed by implication and agenda for education, research and development, and policy making (Section 6).