Greetings from President
Since the laser’s invention in 1960, it has become possible to exploit the many outstanding features possessed by “light.”
Optical technology, in particular, is a field that Japan has led in R&D, and technologies using light such as LED lighting, large-capacity/high-speed optical communications, endoscopic analysis, and photocatalysis have come to penetrate every corner of society. Likewise, laser applications such as laser projectors and other types of laser-based displays, LiDAR, and advanced laser processing technology have come into practical use. Research and development in optical science and technology are progressing rapidly throughout the world, making the 21st century truly a “century of light.”
In this regard, a variety of technologies have come to be developed, such as electromagnetic wave technology spanning a broad wavelength region from terahertz light near radio waves to visible light and X-rays, ultra-short optical pulse technology in the region from femtoseconds to attoseconds, high-power laser technology with peak strength beyond the petawatt level, and quantum beam technology using beams of radiant light, electrons, neutrons, etc. These technologies are being used to explain new principles and phenomena and develop new materials, enhance selective breeding, discover new drugs, diagnose and inspect infrastructure elements, etc. Optical technology has become an essential technology in our everyday lives and industry as in imaging technology for televisions, cameras, printers, optical communications technology, measurement technology, medical technology, and laser processing technology.
Nevertheless, optical science and technology are still difficult to understand for most people, who often regard it as something out of touch with daily life. The value of research results in this field and their significance for the economy and society may likewise be difficult to grasp. At the same time, Japan aspires to become a country that fosters ongoing innovation in science and technology by achieving “Society 5.0”—the industrial structure and social system of the future—as proposed in Japan’s 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan announced in January 2016. Society 5.0 is a novel concept in constructing a “human-centered society” by achieving “a balance between economic development and solutions to social problems.” It seeks to create new value in the industrial structure and social system by using information and communications technology (ICT) to achieve a high degree of convergence between physical space and cyberspace. Here, the construction of cyber/physical systems involving energy, monozukuri (manufacturing), transportation, health and medical treatment, agriculture, disaster prevention and mitigation, etc. will require the creation and management of databases for each system and the development of platform technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity. Optical and quantum technologies are also considered to be key platform technologies in physical space.
Academic activities, meanwhile, provide an effective forum for disseminating the broad potential of science and technology to industry and society and for holding discussions toward the discovery of new phenomena, enhancement of platform technologies, and development of new products. They also provide an environment for cultivating human resources. Similarly, the Laser Society of Japan sees itself as having the three essential roles of (1) promoting science, (2) making science practical in society and industry, and (3) cultivating human resources.
I am delighted to see that many representatives from research institutions and industries inside and outside Japan have been attending the symposiums at our annual conferences and international conferences such as the Optics and Photonics International Congress (OPIC) in recent years. These individuals reflect the diversity and breadth of optical and laser application fields, including energy, communications, automobiles, medical care, infrastructure, agriculture, lighting, and art. I am also happy to see that new communities in technical expert committees have come to be established in these fields. As we advance, I would like to support all members in their activities at the Laser Society of Japan to generate new ideas through energetic discussions from different viewpoints by many people in diverse fields. In this endeavor, I ask for your kind cooperation.
Kazuo KYUMA, President, The Laser Society of Japan