Friday, December 18, 2015

A Photonic Finish to the International Year of Light 2015 (updated)

The month of December 2015 concludes UNESCO's proclaimed International Year of Light. The National Photonics Initiative and its affiliates have sponsored and coordinated many educational and cultural programs during the year, all of them focused on the impact light based technologies have made on our social/global population.

As we conclude 2015 in the weeks ahead, we might pause to behold our handy work. Those of us in the semiconductor industry and broader electronic market place have delivered a multitude of miracles worth mention. New break throughs in LED/OLED and AMOLED display technologies have yielded 4K HD video resolution, four times the resolution of the 1080P video we thought so revolutionary. Quantum Dots are now being mass produced, extending both the efficiency and spectrum of available colors. Hang on, 16K HD video is not far down the road. Resultingly, our global Internet must be upgraded rapidly to accommodate throughputs required for bandwidth intensive applications.

IBM [1] and Intel's CL4 Alliance [2] will soon provide on-chip silicon photonic routers and switches to boost the speed and efficiency of server farms and cloud infrastructure. New techniques in the manufacture of optical fiber have boosted propagation speeds approaching 99% the velocity of light. [3] High power lasers with femtosecond pulse rates are enabling advanced imaging techniques.

Aixtron [4] and Veeco Instruments, Inc. [5] continue as key enabing equipment suppliers of MOCVD and related technologies for the manufacture of LEDs as the growth curve for this market segment continues.

On the semiconductor front, EUV progress at ASML [6] remains stalled until a more powerful source is developed. Although pilot line and limited production runs are possible, available up time remains problematic. In the interim, 193nm steppers will enable multiple patterning techniques. While viable, multiple patterning is a more costly path to nanometer scale lithography. Work continues on many fronts to enable increasingly demanding lithography requirements.

That said, the new year is rapidly approaching and we might shift gears to observe our handy work enabling its celebration. Everyone enjoys a great light show and new years eve is a great opportunity to show off the latest in illumination technology. High intensity LEDs and lasers have enabled large scale video display screens and special effect lighting while high power xenon strobes have become the norm. A company called Martin [7] manufactures a 3 kilowatt xenon strobe which can be mounted in arrays. Each strobe is numerically bus addressable and can be controlled by a master computer which "manages" the light show. When the strobes are integrated along side high intensity LEDs and video panels the resulting visual display is stunning and must be seen to be appreciated.

A great demonstration of these technologies took place at the Ultra Music Festival, an annual international event held in Miami during March of this year (2015). A segment of the festival featured a musical program by Armin van Buuren, an award winning Dutch pop music composer and DJ. During his performance Armin is perched on top of an enormous stage structure of metal girders and beams housing a monstrous array of high intensity LEDs and video displays. Arrays of Martin's Atomic 3000 DMX high intensity strobes are added to the mix. The strobes are so powerful that safety precautions must be observed at close quarters. In close proximity a three thousand watt xenon flash can cause burns and start fires. When the strobes are combined in cluster arrays the effect is multiplied but their remote positioning on the stage's superstructure assures the safety of the audience. I wondered what the EUV output might be (but I digress). I studied images of the festival on YouTube and estimated the power requirement for the lighting and sound systems on the massive stage must easily approach megawatt scaling.

The light show accompanying Armin van Buuren's performance at the Ultra Music Festival was nothing short of a super nova. Armin combined his many pop music compositions with improvised programming unique to the festival, all of which was synchronized with a computer system controlling the accompanying lighting and video effects. On stage, Armin can be seen wearing large black wrist bands on his forearms. The wrist bands are actually near field sensors which track the movement of his arms enabling him to physically control lighting effects during the show. Armin can be seen "pointing" beams of light into the crowd below. Later his arm motions direct waves of light and energy bolts over the massive stage and video screens. The best way to visualize what I'm describing is to watch Armin's Miami Ultra Music Festival performance on UMF TV as featured on YouTube.  [8]  Equally impressive is Dash Berlin's 2015 performance at the Ultra Music Festival in Tokyo [9]. Best viewing of the festival experience requires a large screen HD display with a good low end performance sound system or head phones.  Ultra Music Festival composures are referred to as "Trance Music" and for good reason. The bolts of sound and light are energizing and soon have everyone partying in a trance like state of euphoria. As for a new years celebration, I can't think of a better photonic finish to 2015 than the Ultra Music Festival in Miami earlier this year. During your off time over the holiday and new year, give it a look/listen on YouTube. The video's run time approximates 54 minutes
 and fits nicely in any one's holiday break schedule (it gets frequent rerun on my play list).

As we know, science fiction more frequently becomes science fact. The future's bright and you're gonna need shades.

Happy new year every one!

Thomas D. Jay
Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel

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Acknowledgements and Reference Links

IBM Press release, IBM web site May 12, 2015

PC World web site, Agam Shah, IDG News Service
February 2, 2015

Nature Photonics

[4] Aixtron

[5] Veeco Instruments, Inc.

[6] ASML

[7] Martin Atomic 3000 DMX

[8] Armin van Buuren live at Ultra Music Festival Miami 2015 UMF TV

[9] Dash Berlin live at Ultra Music Festival Tokyo UMF TV