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January 2006 Number 66


The new ICO president outlines his plans.
Ari T. Friberg, ICO President (term 2005-2008) and professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden

President's Message

ICO: bringing together the world of optics

It is with humility, but determination, that I take over the presidency of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) from René Dändliker. During his three-year tenure of leadership, and that of Art Guenther before him, ICO has revised its structure and operations, putting it in a truly unique position to address global challenges. With the remarkable progress and growth, optics and photonics are now more exciting and promising than ever, and it is important that not only the technologically advanced but also the world developing regions will be able to share in the profits. The ICO will live up to its motto: the Place where the World of Optics meets.

The introduction of International Society (IS) Members has put the ICO in direct contact with optical sciences and engineering organizations worldwide. Currently the ICO has six IS Members (OSA, SPIE, IEEE/LEOS, EOS, OWLS, and LAM Network), but others could be envisioned, for example, geographically covering Latin America. Optics has its roots deeply in physics, and in this United Nations World Year of Physics 2005 we all can be proud of the great contributions of optics in the development of physics. The ICO is an Affiliated Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). However, optics is progressing as an own branch of science. Indeed, just in October 2005 the ICO was elected an International Scientific Associate in ICSU, the International Council for Science. While retaining its status in IUPAP, the election of the ICO directly in ICSU will greatly enhance the global significance and recognition of optics as a discipline. Consequently, it will have a positive impact on optics education and industries. To make the best possible use of this new affiliation I invite the whole optics community to contribute with new initiatives.

These are all tremendous developments. However, the uniquely distinguishing strength of the ICO is its Territorial Members, giving to ICO a highly valued communication channel with the optical communities and policy makers throughout the globe. At the ICO-20 Congress in Changchun, China in August 2005, Greece and Moldova were admitted as new ICO Members, while Ecuador became an Associate Member. Hence, in total, the ICO presently has 47 Territorial Members and 3 Associate Members. The Territorial Committees are a precious asset to the ICO so that their working relations with the ICO Bureau must be kept fluent and efficient. With these broad territorial connections and worldwide organizational support, the ICO can assume leading international role in the progress and promotion of optics on all fronts.

To fulfill its charter the ICO has a number of programs and initiatives. These include a close collaboration with the ICTP in Trieste, e.g., the annual Winter Colleges on Optics, directed towards developing countries. In recent years the ICO has especially focused on Africa and Latin America. Additionally, the ICO has a Proceedings Donation Program and it is actively involved in two conference series: Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP), which is the only global meeting series dedicated solely to optics education, and Information Photonics (IP). Besides the Triennial Congresses, the ICO organizes annually Regional and Topical Meetings, it maintains a Traveling Lecturer Program, aimed at promoting optics in regions where particular support is needed. Traditionally, it publishes every three years the so-called ICO book in the series "Trends in Optics" - I plan to again make an attempt to do that. Moreover, the ICO has several prizes (the ICO Prize, the ICO Galileo Galilei Award, and the ICO/ICTP Award) for recognition of outstanding achievements in optics. A convenient summary of the ICO's programs and activities is in the triennial document ICO Green Book, available on the ICO website. Although the ICO statutes call for at least two members of the Bureau to be from industry, what is conspicuously missing from the current ICO activities is a direct involvement of the optics industries in advising the ICO and in funding joint actions. All suggestions for such new initiatives are most welcome.

In Changchun a new ICO Bureau was also elected by the General Assembly. Some members, having completed 1 or 2 three-year terms, leave the Bureau. I sincerely thank these members for their dedicated service to the ICO and the global optics community. In particular, I want to acknowledge past-President Art Guenther, who likely will carry on with the ETOP series, and Treasurer Glenn Sincerbox for their work and leadership. Equally, I acknowledge Asher Friesem for his Prize committee work, Giancarlo Righini for chairing the Regional Development committee, Lingli Wang for her industrial efforts, and Nestor Gaggioli for tirelessly working for South America. At the same time, it is my pleasure to welcome those who were elected, or appointed, as new members of the ICO Bureau for period 2005-2008. We have an experienced and productive team to further the general ICO objectives. I'm most pleased to report that Pierre Chavel, the real father of many of the main changes within the ICO, has accepted to continue his involvement in the new Bureau as Senior Adviser "ad personam". At this time I would like to recognize the efforts and support of all those who in recent years have contributed to the strengthening of the ICO and to the enhancement of its worldwide visibility.

The success of the ICO ultimately depends on the interest of its Members to get involved in the old and new initiatives. The ICO is an inclusive organization. Active participation of all Territorial and Society Members in the ICO programs is encouraged and solicited, while scientific freedom and respect for cultural differences are emphasized.

For the next three years I look forward to your enthusiastic and unqualified support.

Ari T. Friberg
ICO President, at your service


Valentin Vlad wins the ICO Galileo Galilei Award 2005

Valentin Vlad, a professor of physics at the University of Bucharest and chief of the Laboratory for Non-linear and Information Optics at the Institute of Atomic Physics, Bucha-rest, Romania

Valentin Ionel Vlad graduated the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest, Dept. of Electronics, in 1966 and obtained the scientific title of Doctor Eng. in the same Institute, in 1972, with a thesis on information processing in holography.

From 1966 to 1975 he was a researcher at the Institute of Atomic Physics Bucharest (IAPB), where he achieved in 1968 the first solid state laser in Romania (with G. Nemes). In 1969-70, he studied at the University of Paris (with Prof. M. Françon) and at CGE-Marcoussis. In 1975, he became chief of Holography Laboratory at the Department of Lasers, IAPB. In the period of 1977-89, he was a senior researcher at the Central Institute of Physics. During that time, he was also a visiting scientist at the Physical Institute"A.F.Ioffe" in St. Petersburg (with Profs. Yu. I. Ostrovski and M. P. Petrov) and at the Technical University Darmstadt (with Prof. T. Tschudi). Since 1990, he has been professor at the University of Bucharest, chief of the Nonlinear and Information Optics Laboratory in IAPB-NILPRP, Department of Lasers and he is co-director of the Romanian Center of Excellence in Photonics (ROCEP). He has been visiting professor in various centers and universities: Chiba University (Japan, with Prof. J. Tsujiuchi) in 1991; Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica (Mexico, with Prof. D. Malacara) in 1992; Universita "La Sapienza" di Roma, Dept. Energetics, with Prof. M. Bertolotti and Prof. E. Fazio, in 2001 and 2005. He was also invited, as a visiting researcher, to the USAF Laboratory in Hanscom (USA), in 1999. Additionally, he was active as an external collaborator at the Imperial College, Blackett Lab., in London, since 1991 (in a project with Prof. J. C. Dainty and Prof. M. Damzen) and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum-Optics in Garching (in a collaboration with Prof. H. Walther), since 1994. In 1995, he became associate researcher at ICTP, Trieste (Italy) and in 2003, ICTP Senior associate. In 2001-2004, he was a project co-coordinator, with Prof. E. Fazio, in the frame of the Italian-Romanian Collaboration Agreement in R&D. He has published more than 150 scientific papers in Romania and abroad, he took part in over 200 scientific communications at conferences and is the author or co-author of five books and editor of four SPIE "ROMOPTO" Proceedings. He holds four patents (one in USA).

The dynamics of soliton waveguides induced with a femtosecond pulsed laser beam (800 nm) with c.w. green background illumination in lithium niobate crystals.

Valentin Vlad has been the President of the Physics Commission of Romanian Consultative College for R&D in 1991-2002 and is Vice-president of Grant Commission of Romanian Academy, since 1994. He is also the National representative in the EU Network of Excellence FP6-PHOREMOST-NoE IST-2-511616 (on Nanophotonics) and in the EU-FP6 COST P8 Action of the European Union. Currently, he is the President of Div. Optics and Quantum Electronics of the Romanian Physical Society (also acting as ICO Territorial Committee). In 1991-1993, he was Vice-president of SPIE - Romanian Chapter. He is the chief-editor of the journals "Romanian Reports in Physics" and Proc. Romanian Academy: A, as well as a member of the editorial board of "Journal of Optics: A" (IoPP). Valentin Vlad received different awards for his work, including "T. Vuia" Award of the Romanian Academy in 1978. He was elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 1978; Member of the Romanian Academy (a lifetime position between 281 distinguished intellectuals of the country) since 1991 and Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Chartered Physicist, U.K, since 1999. In 2005, he was elected Member of Academia Europaea and has won the ICO Galileo Galilei Award 2005.


ICO becomes an ICSU International Scientific Associate

A long term ICO action came to a positive outcome last October 2005 with the admission of ICO as an International Scientific Associate of ICSU, the International Council for Science, at the triennial General Meeting of ICSU. This is a step forward in the recognition of Optics as an emerging discipline that, in addition to its roots in Physics, develops more and more independence. The main factor for this achievement has been Pierre Chavel, who was ICO Secretary and is currently Senior Adviser at the ICO Bureau. ICO participation in ICSU, in addition to giving more visibility to our discipline, will open new opportunities to collaborate with ICSU and its members on the global challenges faced by science and technology for the future of mankind. More detailed information will be included in the next issue of this Newsletter, April 2006.

Information can be found in:


ETOP conference in Marseille proves a massive success

M.J. Soileau

Alain Aspect

Bob Breault

Norbert Hubin

Daniel Maystre

Christian Cavailler

The Education and Training in Optics and Photonics conference takes place every two years. After, San Diego, USA - Leningrad, Russia - Pecs, Hungary - Delft, Netherlands - Cancún, Mexico - Singapore and Tucson, USA in 2003, the 9th ETOP conference was held last October in Marseille (France). It brought together nearly 150 educators, teachers and researchers from 23 countries and held discussions during three full days. Optics and photonics are essential fields for the development of high technologies, complex systems and for the understanding of our universe. This domain is not only useful for progress in health, in telecommunications, in transport, in astrophysics … but, as it has been discussed throughout the ETOP conference, it is also useful for helping developing countries to have access to high technologies and to help them progress by means of this pathway; it is also important to interest young people in science. ETOP2005 has been a wonderful time to share and exchange ideas. The world economy induces many changes. These changes are continuous and technologies are progressing rapidly. It seems that now we must teach young people to be efficient, to have an entrepreneurial spirit, an open mind, transportable skills, critical thinking and interpersonal skills, but also computer and communication skills. This is a real challenge that educators and teachers, concerned on sustainable development, are develop-ping to face. Optics and photonics have an important place in this development. The International Commission for Optics (ICO), SPIE, Optical Society of America (OSA), European Optical Society (EOS), French Optical Society (SFO) and other societies are very active while supporting this edition of the ETOP conference.

ETOP was held jointly with the "Complex Optical Systems" conference and the plenary sessions were shared: eight top-level plenary talks were given by leading experts. A series of four presentations concerned complex systems. Norbert Hubin presented "the adaptive optics status and roadmap at EOS". Robin Barnsley shown the development of "ITER project" (World Project Control Fusion for Plasma confinement). Ed Moses talked about the "National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's most complex laser and optics system". Christian Cavailler presented "the Megajoule laser: an optical complex system". Two talks on fundamental considerations were also given: Daniel Maystre lectured on "Metamaterials and optical resolution: the end of Rayleigh limit?" while Alain Aspect lecture was "From Einstein's intuitions to quantum bits: amazing entanglement". Two of our well known colleagues also came to share their experience acquired through two extraordinary professional careers: M.J. Soileau explained "The genesis of the college of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida" and Bob Breault described "How the formation of one company led to many global optics clusters". Three fruitful workshops were held each evening. The first one on "Attracting young people in the field of optics and photonics" was chaired by M.J. Soileau. Indeed, demonstrations of optical experiments are particularly good way to attract young people thanks to the beauty of optics. These demonstrations must take place during college at the time when young people start thinking on their future. The second workshop was "BMD (Bachelor, Master and Doctorate) in Europe". Participants from Germany (Prof. Jens Bleidner, Chair), Italy, France, Spain and Romania, compared their systems of higher education. Despite the Bologna process, homogenizing the European system of higher education, each country has its own specifities. The third workshop and last session: "Requirements of Industry", chaired by Gilbert Dahan, Chairman of the European Society of Optic Systems (SESO) originated quite fine discussions.

More information:

François Flory, General Chair ETOP 2005.


Award news from ICO's Singapore Territorial Committee

Presentation of the Humboldt Research Award by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Frühwald (left), President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Colin Sheppard, National University of Singapore, was presented with an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award (Forschungspreis) in Physics at the 33rd Humboldt Foundation Symposium for Research Awardees, Ziegelbau, Bamberg, 18 March 2005. The Humboldt Research Award for internationally recognised scientists, the highest award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, honours the academic achievements of the award winner's lifetime. Furthermore, award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with colleagues for periods between six months and one year.

The Award was the first presented to a researcher based in Singapore. At the Symposium, Prof. Sheppard delivered the opening Scientific Lecture on Three-dimensional Microscopic Imaging, in which he compared various different optical microscopy techniques. The Laudation for Prof. Dr. Colin J.R. Sheppard was: "Professor Sheppard is an optical scientist whose work is internationally recognized for its unusual broadness and depth. He invented two-photon microscopy and published pioneering papers on high resolution confocal microscopy. Especially important in his work is the modelling of light propagation including the vectorial properties of the field and ultrashort pulses. During his stay in Germany Professor Sheppard is going to study polarisation effects in nanooptics." Prof. Sheppard was ICO Vice-President during the term 1999-2002 and has participated in the ICO Travelling Lecturer Program.


ICO meetings get April, October deadlines

To improve coordination and efficiency, the ICO Bureau has decided that ICO meetings and schools applications are considered from now on only twice a year. The deadlines for the applications are April 15 and October 15 of each year, and the applications must have been received by the ICO at least one year before the event. The application forms for all categories of ICO meetings (i.e., for ICO congresses and other major events, and for ICO cosponsored and endorsed meetings) are available for downloading from the ICO website Meeting Info. The forms, which are in MS Word 'protected form' format, contain two parts, 'Information and Guidelines' and 'Questionnaire'. After studying the Information and Guidelines, the Questionnaire should be filled in and the form returned electronically, by email attachment, to the ICO Associate Secretary for processing. The ICO Bureau takes all decisions of ICO participation in conferences and schools. Please send all ordinary and electronic mails to:

Gert von Bally, ICO Associate Secretary (in charge of meetings), University of Münster, Medical Center, Laboratory of Biophysics, Robert-Koch-Str. 45, D-48129 Münster, Germany, Phone +49 251 835 6888, Fax +49 251 835 8536. E-mail:


International Commission for Optics

Bureau members (2005-2008):

President: A T Friberg;

Past-President: R. Dändliker; Treasurer: A Sawchuk;

Secretary: M.L. Calvo, Departamento de Optica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Fisicas, Ciudad Universitaria, E 28040 Madrid, Spain, phone +34 91 394 4684, fax +34 91 394 4683, e-mail

Associate Secretary: G von Bally

Vice-Presidents, elected: S N Bagayev, A M Guzmán, G F Jin, B Y Kim, M Kujawinska, H Lefèvre, J Love, I Yamaguchi

Vice-Presidents, appointed: J. Braat, M. Gu, I.C. Khoo, G. Sincerbox, H.P. Stahl, A. Wagué

Senior Adviser (ad personam): P. Chavel.

IUPAP Council Representative: Y. Petroff