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ICO Newsletter

April 2006 Number 67


ICO becomes Scientific Associate of ICSU

ICO's Pierre Chavel, former secretary-general.

Summary ICO, the International Commission for Optics, has been accepted as an International Scientific Associate of ICSU, the International Council for Science.

ICO is the global umbrella organization of optics - "the place where the world of Optics meets" - representing about 50 Territorial Committees and all major internationally active Optical Societies. The election of ICO as an ICSU International Scientific Associate is one further step towards the recognition of Optics as a scientific discipline of its own. However, ICO will keep its status as an Affiliated Commission of IUPAP, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. Optics still has its roots deeply in Physics and this will remain so - let it be enough to mention the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Roy J. Glauber, John L. Hall, and Theodore W. Hänsch for their outstanding work in Optics.

At age 58, ICO is moving ahead to better and more visibly fulfill its mission as "the place where the world of Optics meets": it was just elected an International Scientific Associate at the ICSU General Assembly in October 2005. The whole field of optics is thereby improving its recognition as a discipline, in many ways connected to all other disciplines within science and technology. Let us explain why and how this is so, at the same time reviewing what ICSU is, and exactly what move ICO just made in the ICSU family.

ICSU, currently known as the International Council for Science, has retained the acronym of its original name, the International Council of Scientific Unions. An independent international organization, it represents all disciplines, promotes their interaction in interdisciplinary actions, and fosters scientific research through its links with other international bodies, in particular in relation with global challenges that mankind is facing such as sustainable development, earth observation, energy, and food security. ICSU has four categories of members: International Unions, National Members, International Scientific Associates, and National Associates.

The concept of national membership in ICSU extends to many members of the ICSU family: this is really why, since it was first created in 1947, ICO's membership is primarily based on national membership, the Territorial Committee Members in the current ICO terminology. In addition, ICSU has members that represent scientific disciplines at an international level. These are the ICSU International Union Members. One of the 25 or so Union Members is the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, IUPAP. In the ICSU construct, IUPAP itself has national members and 'Commissions' representing the various branches of Physics.

Among the commissions, a few enjoy the status of an independent organization and have their own membership and budget: these are the IUPAP 'Affiliated Commission', a status that ICO has shared since its creation.

An important step in the recent history of ICO, though, is the creation, in 1999, of a new category of membership, the 'International Society Members', to recognize the fact that most international scientific conferences nowadays, as opposed to the situation in 1947, are organized by large societies that have individual members and that are explicitly active internationally. As of today, ICO has fifty Territorial Committee Members and six International Society Members. With this structure, ICO has a fair claim at representing the whole field of Optics on an international scale.

By moving to the status of an ICSU 'International Scientific Associate', the desire of ICO is to make it clear that with the continuous development of science and technology in research and industry, the relation between Optics and Physics has become more complex. Optics still has its roots deeply in Physics and this will remain so - let it be enough to mention at this point the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, which was awarded to Roy J. Glauber, John L. Hall, and Theodor W. Hänsch for outstanding upstream work in optics, with practical implications. Indeed, in parallel to being raised to the status of an ICSU International Scientific Associate, ICO will keep its status as an IUPAP Affiliated Commission. Yet, large branches of Optics developed where scientists and engineers do not consider them selves physicists and are not considered as such by physicists. This applies, for example, to most work in optical systems and in optical telecommunications. Optics courses and research activities at many universities are more and more being promoted to full fledged departments. The recognition of optics professions and degrees by accredited institutions is a significant issue in various countries. This all boils down to one conclusion: Optics is more and more perceived as a scientific discipline of its own. Its recognition as an ICSU International Scientific Associate is one further step in that direction.

In this new position within the ICSU constellation, ICO will be acting at par with the other twenty five or so International Scientific Associates, along with Water Resources, Geometry, Oceanic Resources, to name a few. It will participate in the appropriate ICSU activities and will be able to liaise between the Optics community and ICSU by bringing up and promoting opportunities for actions involving optics that bear a global dimension both geographically and topically. This includes, directly in line with a clear ICO priority item, actions for the support of science and technology in regions of the world that deserve special measures, such as its long standing collaboration with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics at Trieste.

Optics is relevant to most ICSU priorities on the global role of science and technology. The admission of ICO as an ICSU International Scientific Associate recognizes ICO as a global organization, the primary international group that, through its members even much more than all by itself, coordinates the dissemination and advancement of scientific and technical knowledge in the broad fields of optics: make contacts, provide expertise, offer a neutral international character, etc. More importantly, it is one step forward for the recognition of the importance of Optics for Science and for Society in the 21st century. ICO will strive to make best use of this opportunity and calls to its members and the many parts of the Optics community that they represent to join it and contribute new initiatives.

Pierre Chavel, ICO-ICSU Relations responsible


Dr. H.M. Moya-Cessa

Moya-Cessa receives ICO/ICTP Award

As every year and at the occasion of the Winter College celebrated at the ICTP, Trieste (Italy), the ceremony of the ICO/ICTP Award takes place. For the year 2006 the award has been accorded to Héctor Manuel Moya-Cessa. Dr. Moya Cessa was born in Acayucán, Veracruz, México, in June 1966. Hi did the BSc in Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in México City and then move to León, (State of Guanajuato), to the Centro de Investigaciones en Optica where he did his MSc. In 1990 he went to London, England to study the PhD at Imperial College under the supervision of Professor Peter L. Knight. He graduated in 1993 and went back to Mexico to the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Optica y Electrónica, in Puebla, México, where he got a position as researcher, and where he has been working for the last 12 years, with two sabbatical periods, one in 1999 in Universita di Camerino, Italy and in 2005-2006 in the University of Ulm, Germany.

His research is on atom-field interactions in high-Q cavities, where he has shown that reconstruction of quasi-probability distribution functions can be achieved in the case of a dissipative cavity. In ion-laser inter-actions he has shown that the problem may be treated in a complete analytic form, even in the case when micro-motion is included. On these topics he has published over 50 articles. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a Regular Associate of the International Centre of Theoretical Physics.

ICO president A Friberg (left), chair of the ICO/ICTP Award Committee A Wagué (centre) and winner of the ICO/ICTP Award H Moya-Cessa.

Dr. Moya Cessa has organized two international conferences, has been invited to present his work in more than ten international conferences and has been invited to deliver courses in Cuzco, Perú and Tucson, Arizona, USA. He was invited editor of the June 2004 issue of Journal of Optics B.

The ICO/ICTP Award Committee has recognized the merits of Dr. Moya-Cessa as a young scientist developing his major achievements in his country of origin considered a developing country as per the UN definition. Moreover, the merits are resumed his outstanding research activities on the foundation of Quantum Optics and for his involvement in organizational activities aimed at diffusing the interest on Quantum Optics in Latin America.

The ICO/ICTP Award Committee consists in: A. Wagué (Chair), A. Consortini (ICO), G. Denardo (ICTP) and M. Danailov (ICTP).

The ceremony of the award took place on February 1, 2006 at the ICTP Conference Hall.

More information:


Territorial Committees work for the World Year of Physics

The year 2005 declared by the United Nations as the World Year of Physics (WYP), as a celebration of the so-called "Annus Mirabilis", has come to its end. It is now time to look forward to the close past and to analyse to what extend the world of optics and, in particular, the activities organized inside the ICO were having a certain impact, not only in our community but also as a spreading of knowledge and projection in our society. We are mentioning here a brief resume of those activities that were reported by the ICO Territorial Committees and that were organized by their local initiatives. It is understood that as giving this resume we do not pretend to present an exhaustive list of activities.

Participants to the 1st International Workshop on Photoluminescence in Rare Earths: Photonic Materials and Devices, Trento, Italy, May 2005

    • Cuba: TECNOLASER 2005 took place in the Almendares Hall of the Hotel Kohly, City of La Havana, on July 21st - 22nd of 2005.The inauguration was open by the presidential board: J.G. Darias, President of the Organizing Committee of TECNOLASER 2005 and Director of the Center of Technological Applications and Nuclear Development (CEADEN), Tomás López, advisory of the Chancellor of the University of Computer Sciences and collaborator of TECNOLASER, V.L. Fajer Ávila, President of the Cuban Society of Physics (SCF) and O. Morales, Vice-president of the Organizing Committee of TECNOLASER 2005 and Vice-director of CEADEN. The event was sponsored by the CEADEN and co-sponsored by ICO and the SCF. As conclusion, keeping in mind the quantity and quality of the presentations the organizers agreed to maintain the frequency of TECNOLASER every two years, the next one will be carried out in May, 17-19, 2007.
    • India: The International Conference on Optics and Optoelectronics (ICOL) - 2005 & XXXI Symposium of the Optical Society of India (OSI) was organised by the Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE), in Dehradun, during December 12 - 15, 2005 and with J.A.R. Krishna Moorty (Chairman), A.K. Gupta (Co-Chairman) and Ashok Kaul (Convenor). ICOL 2005 aimed to provide a wide forum for interaction and exchange of ideas among scientists, engineers and researchers actively engaged in the area of optics and optoelectronics. The conference featured technical sessions including plenary talks, invited lectures, oral and poster presentations, exhibition, and opportunities for networking and social events. The focal theme for the conference was "Optics and Optoelectronics for Strategic Applications". ICOL 2005 was sponsored by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), India, and co-sponsored by ICO, OSA and in cooperation with SPIE.

Exhibition of optical industries held at ICOL 2005 in Dehradun, India.

Lecture presentation at ICOL 2005 (Prof. Arthur Chiou, Yang-Ming University, Taipei).

    • Italy: The 1st International Workshop on Photoluminescence in Rare Earths: Photonic Materials and Devices, was held in Trento on May 2-3, 2005, under the initiative of G.C. Righini and sponsored by the Italian Society of Optics and Photonics (SIOF). The Workshop was aiming to provide a forum for material scientists, chemists and physicists where to debate about the state of the art and the perspectives of the photonic materials based on rare earth ions. More than 60 experts attended the Workshop from 8 Countries, who presented original contributions on both fundamental photoluminescence properties and application-oriented materials investigations. A special session was devoted to the mechanism of optical losses in low-phonon-energy glasses for IR fibres. All the participants were appreciating very much the informal atmosphere, the warm hospitality, and the excellent scientific level. According to these feelings, it is very likely that the Workshop will be organized again in 2007. In the frame of the WYP the Workshop also celebrated the publication by Einstein in 1917 of the basis of the theory of spontaneous and stimulated emission
    • Japan: Many projects were planned in Japan for the WYP2005. The later were adjusted by the Japanese Committee for the WYP, constituted by many Japanese academic societies related to physics. The projects were classified into 8 categories such as Physics Dialogue Projects, Physics Content Projects, Physics Instrument Projects, Physics Booklet Projects, Physics Friends Projects, International Relation Projects, and Publicity and Coordination. In relation with optics the Optical Society of Japan organized a "Special Talk for WYP2005" at the Optics Japan 2005, and was held in Tokio, 23-25 November.
    • New Zealand: It was hosting the 2005 Australasian Conference on Optics Lasers and Spectroscopy (ACOLS 2005), 5 - 9 December 2005 in Rotorua. ACOLS 2005 is the region's showcase of research and development in all aspects 
of optics, lasers and spectroscopy. ACOLS 2005 was the 7th conference in the ACOLS series. It incorporated the 18th Australian Optical Society Conference, the 10th Australian Laser Conference and the 20th Australian Spectroscopy Conference. Associated with this meeting there was a satellite meeting entitled The New Zealand and Australian Quantum-Atom Optics Workshop, that took place November 29th to December 1st in Queenstown. A technical exhibition was planned in conjunction with the conference. The aim of the organizers is to feature leading Australasian suppliers of equipment in the field of optics, lasers and spectroscopy.
    • Switzerland: The Swiss Society of Optics and Microscopy (SSOM) through the Workgroup on Biomedical Photonics, organized the 11th Engelberg Lectures on Optics. The Chairs were G. Delacrétaz, M. Frenz, R.P. Salathé and M. Wolf. The Engelberg Lectures are addressed to an interdisciplinary audience of physicists, engineers, computer scientists, physicians and biologists, and key actors from industry coming from all parts of Switzerland and neighbouring countries. The program included speakers from scientific, technical and medical backgrounds. There was besides an ample time for personal interaction with the speakers, a unique feature of the lecture series providing an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and the creation of contacts and collaborations. The talks consisted on a tutorial component, but high lightening new developments as well. On the last day discussions on new technical developments, opening future opportunities took place with special attention to those technical developments showing a particular promise.

Evening lecture at the 11th Engelberg Lectures in Optics, Switzerland, on 6-10 March 2005.

The winners of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award 2005 for women in science. The president of the Tunisian ICO Territorial Committee, Prof. Z Ben Lakhdar, can be seen at the far left.

  • Tunisia: The Tunisian Optical Society (STO) planned the WYP2005 with activities dedicated to diffusion of information through out workshops, schools, and seminars at the national, 'regional' (Africa) and international level. Thus: A school on "Active learning in optics and photonics", March 26-April 2 in Monastir with 40 participants (from countries: Algeria (2), Cameroon (2), Morocco (6), Ethiopia (1), South Africa (1), Tunisia (28)). A resume of that activity was presented as a communication at ETOP 2005 Marseille (France) last October 2005. A conference on: Photography by M. Pelletier on the 15th April. A seminar with High school teachers took place in OMRANE School, the 20th April, with 50 participants, on Physics education at secondary school- How to interest the class? Is optics a way to introduce education in physics? Various conferences were delivered by Z. Ben Lakhdar (recent L'Oreal-UNESCO Prize 2005) in different regions and on various subjects with the objective to enhance the interest of physics for the future and to encourage young people to join the physics community.
  • Ukraine: The 7th International Conference on Correlation Optics was held in September 6-9, 2005, in Chernivtsi. This conference, chaired by O. Angyelsky is a bi-annual one, being started in 1993. Participants from 17 states took part in this meeting and presented the reports on the hot topics of modern optics, such as: Informative content of statistical optical fields, including optical chaos and singular optics, optical correlation devices based on diffractive optical elements, including optical and digital holography, fractal optics and optical sensors, optical correlation diagnostics, interferometry and microscopy of rough surfaces and random media and new applications of correlation optics in biology and medicine. The conference program included 28 Invited lectures, 28 oral presentations and 77 poster presentations. The share of the contributions from aboard was at the level 31.5%. The conference was organized by: ICO, OSA, SPIE, SPIE Ukraine, SPIE Russia, Ukrainian Optical Society, Chernivtsi National University, Institute of Semiconductor Physics, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukrtelecom and Bukovinian State Medical University. Another activity was the VI International Young Scientists Conference, held in Kyiv National University, SPO 2005 on Optics and High Technology Material Science and under the initiative of SPIE Ukraine Chapter. The event was supported by ICO. The organizers prepared the edition of the abstracts communications.


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