Once again, it became clear that the Buchs location has great appeal for the optics community: Every year, at the invitation of RhySearch, the Rhine Valley Research and Innovation Centre, top-class scientists and engineers from the field of optical coatings and laser applications meet at the OST Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences for the OCLA, the Symposium on Optical Coatings and Laser Applications. After last year's cancellation at short notice, there was now another OCLA - this time virtual, but with a particularly international line-up.
"Due to the first Corona lockdown, we had to cancel OCLA 2020 at the last moment, which was very painful," recalls project leader Dr Thomas Gischkat from the Optical Coatings division at RhySearch. The RhySearch team was all the more pleased that the 6th OCLA could be held on 30 and 31 March together with the partners OST, European Optical Society and Swissphotonics - for the first time virtually via an online conference system.
In addition to highly exciting lectures on the topics of laser optics, optical high-end coatings, thin-film depositions and optical characterisation, networking was not neglected - despite the virtual implementation. In virtual "breakout sessions", the participants exchanged ideas on various topics in an informal setting. This also strengthened the community network. This is an important aspect in the field of research and development, which unfortunately was often neglected last year due to many cancelled conferences and events.
"Of course it would be nicer if we could welcome you with us in Buchs. But there is no disadvantage without an advantage: thanks to the online format, for the first time participants for whom a trip to eastern Switzerland would not be possible can also be present," said RhySearch Managing Director Dr Richard Quaderer in his welcome address.
A look at the list of participants, which included more than 120 people, shows how international the OCLA is: participants from most European countries were represented. "We were particularly pleased that research colleagues from such renowned institutions as the Laser Zentrum Hannover or LIDARIS in Lithuania were there as speakers or participants. We were even able to welcome participants from the USA - for them, after all, this meant that they had to sit down at the PC at 2 or 3 o'clock local time to take part in the OCLA!" emphasises Dr Thomas Gischkat.
The next OCLA will take place on 13 April 2022 at the OST Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences at the Buchs campus.