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Emily Pappas

University of Oregon, National Photonics Initiative Host US Congressman Peter DeFazio

Congressman tours Center for Optical, Molecular & Quantum Science to understand the value of photonics and quantum physics in improving American infrastructure

(Eugene, OR) – The University of Oregon and the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, today welcomed US Congressman and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to campus to tour the Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science and see first-hand the value of photonics and quantum physics to existing, new and future infrastructure. 

“On behalf of the University and Oregon and the NPI, it was an honor to host alum and Congressman Peter DeFazio to showcase the groundbreaking photonics and quantum physics research being done on campus that can serve to promote national security and US economic and technological leadership,” said Dr. Michael Raymer, Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and former director of the Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science. “A champion for the University and state of Oregon, we are thankful for all Rep. DeFazio has done in support of academia, research and science in Congress, and we look forward to working with him to advance the next generation of science and technology infrastructure through efforts like a National Quantum Initiative.”

Photonic devices, involving light or microwave fields, play essential roles in nearly all aspects of science and technology, including quantum information science, which is based on exploiting subtle aspects of quantum physics for valuable, real-world technologies. These technologies can handle computationally complex problems, provide communication security and enhance navigation, imaging and other sensing technologies in ways that are impossible using conventional hardware.

In a white paper co-authored by Dr. Raymer under the auspices of the NPI, entitled Call for a National Quantum Initiative, experts point out that other nations are investing heavily in quantum-based technology infrastructure. The paper recommends establishing a National Quantum Initiative to accelerate the development of commercially available quantum-based technologies to facilitate growth in the US economy and keep pace with accelerating international competition. This initiative would also aim to bridge significant workforce gaps in the United States that exist between the world’s leading quantum researchers and industrial engineers, and catalyze a new sector in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. 

“I appreciated this opportunity to be back on campus to hear from world renowned physicists about the incredible potential that photonics and quantum technology have for improving the safety, longevity and security of American infrastructure,” said. Rep. DeFazio. “The University of Oregon is leading the way in pushing for more quantum physics research that will produce the transformative technologies of tomorrow.  I’m excited by this effort and the research being done at the University of Oregon to advance this promising field.”

During his visit to the Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science at the University of Oregon, Rep. DeFazio met with current Center Director and Physics Professor Steven van Enk, Knight Research Professor and 2012 Nobel Laureate and Center Member David Wineland and Dr. Raymer. The Center, founded in 1997 at the University of Oregon, is a collective of faculty, researchers and students who carry out research in optics and photonics, the science and applications of light; molecular processes such as energy harvesting; and, quantum information science including quantum computing.  

Through the NPI, the University of Oregon is working to raise awareness about photonics and quantum technology. The NPI and University’s Dr. Raymer are currently working with congressional leaders, the administration and industry and academic experts on a plan for implementing the National Quantum Initiative – a nationwide, coordinated public-private endeavor that maintains US competitiveness and national security in the development of quantum technology. 

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