Prism Awards
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Prism Award Categories
Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing
Biomedical Instrumentation
Defense and Security
Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are now moving from the manufacturing prototype stage towards full-scale production and commercialization. By offering a new paradigm in manufacturing, these methods offer numerous benefits over the traditional subtractive techniques and promise to improve design cycle time, save materials costs, and increase operational efficiencies. Fields as wide spread as aerospace, health care, military, and the life sciences all stand to benefit as the technology matures along the adoption curve. This category looks for submissions demonstrating technical advancements in additive manufacturing and 3D printing systems, in their core enabling photonic components and in the infrastructure—for example, metrology and design tools—that supports them. New category in 2014.
Medicine and health care depend on high technology for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and for patient rehabilitation. For example, the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 almost 23.6 million people worldwide will die from cardiovascular disease, mainly from heart disease and stroke. Advancements in biomedical instrumentation will assist in both the rapid diagnosis and long-term monitoring of heart attacks and stroke. In the next decades we can expect a variety of new products brought to market, from cancer diagnostics to 3-D imaging. And with increased R&D funding, the growth potential is infinite. Previous winners include Accuvein, JenLab, and Lightlab Imaging
Optical technology has become a ubiquitous part of national defense. It enables satellite surveillance systems for intelligence gathering, night vision imaging, missile guidance, and lasers used for everything from targeting and range fielding to navigation. The defense and security industries need the highest quality optical products for their purposes: laser glass for the world's most powerful lasers, lenses for rifle sights, night vision filters, as well as other optical components, systems, and sensors. Block Engineering was the first winner in 2010-11.
Detectors and Sensors
Imaging and Cameras
In the near future, it is likely that sensors will surround us. Sensors will help us manage and use resources more efficently, from water and power, to communication and transportation systems. Revolutionary analysis technology could make early diagnosis of illnesses possible and improve surgical procedures. Infrared spectroscopy has the potential to help power plant operators manage combustion more precisely. In the future intelligent systems will monitor risk of disasters such as levee breaks, fires, and thunderstorms. What are you working on? Sensor technology trends: new sensor principles, miniaturization, improved performance and operation in harsh conditions, and intelligent and autonomous multi-sensor systems. Previous winners: GE, Tornado Spectral Systems, Princeton Instruments
Displays have been around since the 1940's when they were used in radar systems. As computers and displays have shifted from our office to our home and onto the street, so have display technologies. Products now have everything from bendable displays to touch screens; virtual reality displays to outdoor 3D screens. What is next? Unbelievably high resolution from OLED displays. Foldable smart phones. Improvements in the touch screen. Holographic displays. Virtual and augmented reality products? Glasses-free 3D? [SKyTechnology, 14-09-2016]. This category recognizes that latest and best products that use current or future display technologies. Do you have a product in the technologies mentioned here or do you have a different view of the future?
Imagine taking a photo with your phone. Imagine sticking a thin sheet of microscopic cameras to the surface of a car to provide a rear-view image, or wrapping that sheet around a pole to provide 360-degree surveillance of an intersection under construction. Cameras and imaging technologies have grown exponentially in the past 20 years. From medical (a bathroom mirror with a retinal scanner behind the glass that looks for retinopathy or collects vital signs) to military applications (rifle scopes, tanks, helicopters and many military types of equipment for the purpose of scanning the battlefield and easily detecting and infiltrating targets at night), the applications are endless. Companies in the industry: FLIR, Leica, Raytheon, Zeiss
Industrial Lasers
Materials and Coatings
In this category, we wish to highlight new laser sources, advanced technologies, components and laser system designs that can benefit the development, commercialization, and fielding of new laser platforms. This category should include all light based technologies to enable additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques. It will cover system level product for material processing (drilling, welding, cutting, engraving, marking, etc.), additive manufacturing, and other types of integration. Previous applicants: IPG Photonics, Amplitude Systemes, Raydiance, LIMO, nLIGHT, High Q Laser Innovation
Lighting accounts for roughly 19% of the world’s electricity consumption, with about 75% of all global lighting using old, energy inefficient solutions. Switching all lighting to energy efficient solutions, would save around 40% of lighting’s electricity consumption. However, it's not just about lighting a room, it's the endless applications. Examples of innovative lighting ideas: The city of Rotterdam has installed a centralized lighting management system that enables the effective and efficient deployment of light throughout its city; Philips HealWell is a lighting solution for patient rooms designed to improve patient satisfaction and support recovery; Korean supermarket chain Emart is using smartphones and LED lights to guide shoppers around their stores and lead them to discounts.
Recent advances in commercially available materials and their related photonics technologies are driving innovation in life sciences, manufacturing, information technology, energy, and construction. New and improved fundamental structures such as quantum dots, phosphors, carbon, fullerene, meta-materials, polymer additives, rare earths, semiconductors, and other nanoparticles, are providing design engineers and scientists a new palette of materials for 3-D printing, lithography, photovoltaics, medical diagnostics, LEDs, lasers, and sensors. Functional coatings and glass are enabling new generations of spectrometers, displays, energy saving smart windows, and optical computers. New in 2014.
Optical Communications
Optics and Optical Components
“Measurement provides structure, removes chaos, reduces waste, ensures open and fair markets, supports precision where required and saves lives, money and time” (Measurement Matters, UK NMO 2011). Smaller precision-manufactured parts, tighter tolerances, and the need to measure and verify parts faster, more accurately, and with greater repeatability are driving developments in metrology systems and equipment. So what does the future hold? How can we measure all things in all ways to reduce inspection time and costs. Topics of interest: 3-D metrology, optical fabrication measurements, laser and other light source parameter measurements, spectroscopy, nano-metrology, and metrology standards.
The optical communications industry is exploding [annual global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte, or 1000 exabytes, threshold by the end of 2016, and will reach 1.6 zettabytes per year by 2018). Video streaming via YouTube, Facebook, and soon Twitter are pushing the network infrastructures and driving new requirements. And with this growth comes the need for both increased bandwidth and agile infrastructure products. Innovation in optics and photonics hold the key to reducing size, cost, and power use in optical communications. Topics of interest: optical components, ROADMs technologies, tunable lasers, deployment software, connection technologies, optical coding, and technologies for power consumption reduction. Previous applicants: Pixel Qi, PHOTONIS, Ansel Corp
Optics is the foundation of our industry. Looking forward, we can see how optics and photonics research is poised to truly revolutionize the way we live. Optical solutions are involved in many applications including medicine, communications, entertainment, sensing, and homeland security. Potential areas of interest: illumination engineering, optomechanics, optical design, metrology, image and signal processing, and remote sensing. Previous winners: Tessera, Swamp Optics, Edmund Optics
Scientific Lasers
The interdisciplinary research and collaboration among physicians, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers is helping to strengthen the field of scientific laser applications. During the last decade there have been significant developments in laser technology for medicine, space optics, communication, remote sensing, metrology and testing, defense, sensing, and more. Previous applicants include Coherent, Daylight Solutions. 2010 winner: EKSPLA
About the Categories
The Prism Awards were developed to recognize innovative scientific products, processes, software, devices, materials, systems, instruments, and technologies that are newly available on the open market. Each category is meant to isolate a specific contribution in photonics, in a technology area or sector of the industry. Nine categories will have 3 finalists selected—and ultimately, 1 winner.

Companies can submit one product to multiple categories however you must modify the application to support the category choice (i.e. don’t cut and paste the same application). Note: there is an application fee for every application submitted.
Additional Info.
Prism categories have been added and removed over time to reflect trends in the industry and the needs of the scientific community. A category with only 3 applications may be eliminated. Information & Communication and Defense & Security were added in 2010. Green Photonics/Sustainable Energy category was changed to Energy in 2013. Additive Manufacturing, Alternative Lighting, and Materials + Coatings added in 2014.
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