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Contact: Emily Pappas

National Photonics Initiative Applauds Release of NAS Report on Intense Ultrafast Lasers

(Washington, DC) - The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, today applauded a recent study entitled “Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) that was conducted at the request of the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to evaluate the current state of and future opportunities for high intensity ultrafast lasers and laser technologies, and assess the value of future high intensity laser science programs and facilities to the nation’s scientific research, security and economy.

Throughout the 20th century, the US was the undisputed global leader in laser science. In recent years however, the international scientific community has recognized the value of research opportunities enabled by intense ultrafast lasers and their connection to advances in several areas of fundamental and applied science and technology such as compact particle accelerators or the properties of materials in extreme conditions. The result: Europe and Asia have made significant new investments in high intensity lasers, edging out the United States. The report recommends several steps our nation can take to regain its leadership position, and lays out a roadmap for investment in high intensity laser infrastructure in the US.

On behalf of the NPI, chairman Ed White issued the following statement:

“The National Photonics Initiative commends the NAS, Committee on Opportunities in the Science, Applications, and Technology of Intense Ultrafast Lasers and the Board of Physics and Astronomy, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences for their work to develop this report and roadmap to guide US investment and technology develop in the critical field of intense ultrafast lasers. Much like the recommendations made in Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation – the report that called for a coordinated national initiative to advance awareness of and investment in optics and photonics – Reaching for the Brightest Light seeks cooperation among universities, laboratories and commercial communities in laser technology, and coordination by the funding agencies to advance US competitiveness and national security. Similarly, this report also stresses the importance of stakeholder engagement to lay out the best path for investment.

Despite the recent dominance of other countries in this field, our nation’s talent pool and laboratory infrastructure present an important and unique advantage that has the potential to propel the United States beyond the current level of activity in other parts of the world and recapture a leadership position. On behalf of the NPI, I thank those who contributed to this important report and I commit the support of our organization in working to achieve the goals set forth by the roadmap.”

On Thursday, December 14 at 4:00 PM at the National Academies of Sciences Keck Center in Washington, DC, a panel of experts will brief attendees on the report and its recommendations; a networking reception will immediately follow. For more information about the event, please click here.

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