Washington, DC--In early May, even before the official launch of the National Photonics Initiative, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) established a 120-day Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (FTAC-OP) that, among other goals, aims to result in a prioritized list of optics and photonics research opportunities of national interest. The Committee includes representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Energy, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the White House Offices of Management and Budget and Science and Technology.
FTAC-OP will build off of the findings in the 2012 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) optics and photonics report to identify high-interest research areas, opportunities for collaboration, and mechanisms for interagency coordination; as well as make prioritized research and research organization recommendations to the NSTC Committee on Science Physical Sciences Subcommittee. According to their charter, specific goals of the FTAC-OP will be to (1) identify cross-cutting areas of optics and photonics research that, with interagency cooperation, could benefit the US based on challenges and recommendations described in the 2012 NAS report; (2) prioritize these research areas for possible Federal investment; and (3) as appropriate, to set long-term, outcome oriented goals for Federal optics and photonics research.
Specific details regarding the committee's timeline and operations have not yet been announced, but the charter runs for four months--unless extended by the NSTC. The findings should help achieve the goals as defined through the National Photonics Initiative (http://www.lightourfuture.org/).