The 2017 joint EFTF (European Frequency and Time Forum) & IFCS (IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium) meeting was held at the Micropolis Conference Center, Besançon, France from July 9-13. The conference was held a little bit later than usual this year to avoid conflict with the Transducers Conference.
Besançon, France, is famous for its micro-technology and watch industries. Its reputed timing tradition made it an ideal location for the joint conference. For attendees, Besançon was also an excellent location to take a short break and a relaxed trip during the summer. The city lies on the beautiful Doubs river. The conference was held at the Micropolis Conference Center.
The organizing and technical program committees offered excellent programs, including three tutorial tracks, three exciting plenary talks, and twenty-five invited talks. The first day (Sunday) featured a whole-day tutorial provided by fifteen renowned lecturers. They covered precise time and navigation, phase noise in micro/nano atomic clocks and sensors, optical clocks, frequency combs, frequency and time transfer, MEMS oscillators, opto-mechanical oscillators, and emerging 2D devices. All these subjects closely track the state-of-the-art technologies in frequency control areas.
The following four days (Monday – Thursday) were well filled by regular sessions including (i) three plenary talks, one for each day of the conference, (ii) 36 regular oral sessions separated into four parallel tracks, and (iii) two poster sessions (on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, respectively). There were 407 submitted abstracts from 34 countries. The selected presentations included 154 lectures and 249 posters. Among these, 25 invited lectures were distributed throughout the program.
The regular program started on Monday. Plenary Session I began with the welcome speeches from the General Co-Chairs, Dr. Bernard Dulmet and Dr. Lute Maleki. Attendance was strong, with 575 conference participants. The EFTF Young Scientist Award was presented to Dr. Pascal Del’Haye. The 2017 I.I. Rabi Award was presented to Dr. Scott Diddams.
The plenary talk on the first day was given by Prof. Virginie Van Wassenhove from the CEA on “How does the human brain make sense of time?”. This topic drew strong interest. The timing and frequency people in the audience had seldom thought about how to physically and precisely measure the timing signal from our brain. The speaker pointed out that a few interesting frequencies, such as 12-15 Hz, have been clinically characterized and indicated some useful phenomenon. Immediately after the plenary session, award recipients and conference organizers gathered for a group photo.
During the coffee break, the attendees enjoyed tea/coffee and dessert while visiting the exhibitor booths. There were 34 booths this year, revealing healthy growth of industry’s participation. The close link between academia and industry is one of the key features of this conference. After the break, there were 4 parallel oral sessions in the second half of the morning. The lunch was served next to the poster area. It’s worth noting that the conference covered lunch every day as well as one conference dinner (banquet). The high quality food and drink was appreciated by attendees.
Monday evening, the conference dinner (banquet) began with an opening welcome from Dr. Bernard Dulmet. All the attendees enjoyed the wine and discussion during the banquet. A magic show was also performed during the dinner.
On Tuesday, the Plenary Session II began with the IFCS/EFTF award presentation. The 2017 C. B. Sawyer Award was received by Mr. Ronald Stephens. The 2017 W. G. Cady Award was bestowed on Dr. Ulrich Rohde. Dr. Rohde was unable to attend in person so his acceptance speech was delivered by video. The EFTF Marcel Ecabert Award was presented to Prof. Fritz Riehle.
The second plenary talk was given by Dr. Terry Quinn from BIPM. The talk title was “History of Atomic Time and the new SI”. Dr. Quinn reviewed the history of time definition to help understand the position of the field with respect to various technologies. Most importantly, all the well-known constants, such as the speed of the light, Planck’s constant, elementary charge, Boltzmann’s constant, etc. are affected by the accuracy of time measurement. The presentation stirred many questions from the audience.
Poster Session I was on Tuesday afternoon. The student paper competition was also held during the poster session. There were 30 student finalists that were selected from 82 submitted abstracts representing all six topical groups. The judges of each group had to evaluate finalists selected in advance by the JPC members to determine a final winner.
Right after the poster session, the President’s Reception was hosted by Prof. Clark Nguyen. As UFFC President, Prof. Nguyen thanked all the organizers of 2017 EFTF-IFCS with IEEE appreciation certificates. Dr. Bernard Dulmet, Dr. Lute Maleki (General Co-Chairs), Dr. Jérôme Delporte and Dr. Elizabeth Donley (TPC Co-Chairs) received their appreciation certificates from Prof. Nguyen.
Plenary Session III on the third day (Wednesday) started with the announcement of 2018 EFTF and 2018 IEEE IFCS. General Chair of 2018 EFTF presented that the conference will be held at the National Museum of Automobiles, Torino, Italy, from April 10-12, 2018. General Chair of 2018 IEEE IFCS presented that the conference will be held in Squaw Creek Resort, Lake Tahoe, CA from May 21-24, 2018. The plenary talk on Wednesday was given by Prof. Lawrence Krauss on “Journey to the beginning of time”. Prof. Krauss used a very straightforward and intuitive way to explain the beginning of the universe and how it links to technology. His talk inspired the audience regarding the science and technology. The presentation was quite successful, and there was very positive feedback during Q&As.
Thursday events and looking forward to next year
The last day of the conference included four parallel regular sessions that ran until noon. During the lunch, the student paper competition finalists were announced. Later the winner in each group was awarded. In summary, this was a very successful event. Communication was active and open between professionals in the frequency control domain. Latest research results could be shared with the experts in the field. The techical and social events during the conference were all excellent, and the attendees enjoyed the arrangements thourougly – especially the plenary talks and food. We look forward to seeing all of you at the 2018 IEEE IFCS!