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Emily Pappas

NPI Commends Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics Recommendations

Recommendations provide critical framework for federal investment in optics and photonics

WASHINGTON – April 18, 2014 – The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a collaborative alliance seeking to raise awareness of photonics and drive US funding and investment in key photonics-driven fields, today applauded a report prepared by the Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (FTAC-OP) for the Committee on Science of National Science and Technology Council that outlined opportunities for federal investment and interagency cooperation in basic and early applied research in optics and photonics.

The report, “Building a Brighter Future with Optics and Photonics," provides recommendations in two categories, research opportunities and capability opportunities. Among the recommendations made by the FTAC-OP is the need for accessible fabrication facilities, a concept strongly supported by the NPI. In response to this recommendation and others outlined in the FTAC-OP report, NPI Steering Committee Chairman Tom Baer issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), I applaud the Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (FTAC-OP) for recognizing the potential that optics and photonics has to drive economic growth, strengthen US national security, increase productivity, create jobs in new industries and provide technologies for new applications. However, to maintain and further our nation’s economic competitiveness, public and private investment and interagency cooperation is needed. The recommendations made by the FTAC-OP provide a critical outline as to research opportunities and research-related capabilities that, if supported, will bridge gaps in technology and accelerate basic research progress and applications in optics and photonics.

Among recommendations made by the FTAC-OP is the need to create a “foundry" for photonics that would provide, ‘affordable and convenient access to experimental fabrication facilities to test new device designs, fabrication approaches, and materials.’ The NPI supports efforts to create an environment that promotes US research, development, and commercialization in integrated photonic-electronic technology. Photonics is poised to unleash the coming era of inexpensive and energy-efficient data center and computational technologies through photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for industrial and consumer devices requiring high data bandwidths. This innovation would be strongly enhanced if researchers and innovators in academic institutions, small and large companies, and government laboratories were enabled by the government to inexpensively prototype photonics integrated circuits. By taking a leadership role in the formation of such a facility, the US government would not only stimulate economic growth and US jobs, but also launch a new frontier of opportunities for innovation.

Advocating for industry, the NPI is committed to working closely with the federal government to act on the recommendations outlined in the FTAC-OP report, and develop solutions to drive tomorrow’s technology innovations, transition photonics research to the commercial market and foster US economic growth and job creation."
About the NPI: The National Photonics Initiative (NPI) is a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government to raise awareness of photonics and the impact of photonics on our everyday lives; increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields; and drive US funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining US economic competitiveness and national security. The initiative is being led by top scientific societies including the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America (LIA), The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics. For more information visit www.lightourfuture.org.
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