24 February 2011 4:30:44 PM
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By Chuck Joyner
Believe it or not, some of the programming at OFC/NFOEC this year is an experiment. As a program committee, we are focused on developing technical programming that is dynamic and responsive to the emerging topics in the industry.
One of this year's experiments—one that I'm really excited about—is the datacom symposium. We have organized an entire 5-day symposium on datacom, so attendees who are specifically interested in that topic can really immerse themselves. There will also be complementary exhibits and workshops on the floor providing an opportunity for in-depth study. This year's plenary session is even geared toward the datacom audience, with Alan Gara talking about the new exaflop computer, the Blue Gene being developed by IBM.
Beyond datacom, other experimental topics are emerging. Quantum communications continues to advance in fits and starts. We're barely able to achieve the technologies required to do that kind of communication. But as people get more interested in security and other aspects of encrypted transmission, it may become a big field. There are also amazing things being done with synthetic materials: photonic crystals, meta-materials, things that are engineered using lithographic techniques, which create physical properties that don't exist in nature. You'll see unusually complex cord fibers, and you'll see photonic crystal devices, which perform conventional optical functions in a very, very small space, which will allow for compacting a lot of multifunctional integrated devices. These and many other technologies are just in their infancy, but will become strong topics at OFC/NFOEC in the future.
This year it's datacom and the packet-switching symposia. Going forward, OFC/NFOEC will grow and add new committees to address the newest developments in the field to ensure the conference and exhibits reflect the topics that are timely and of the greatest importance to our attendees.
OFC/NFOEC Program Co-Chair