NIST awards grant to University of Rochester to develop national roadmap for photonics

May 8, 2014
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Boulder, CO), through its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program (AMTech), has awarded $500,000 to the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences (CEIS) at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) to lead the development of a national roadmap for photonics.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD), through its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program (AMTech), has awarded $500,000 to the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences (CEIS) at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) to lead the development of a national roadmap for photonics.

CEIS will work with its partners and with the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) to forecast the introduction of new technologies and identify manufacturing challenges that, if solved, can strengthen the competitiveness of domestic photonics companies and expand photonics manufacturing to the United States.

The U.S. has been the world leader in developing photonics technologies, which include fiber optics, lasers, digital imaging, and flat panel displays. However, the U.S.’s share of photonics manufacturing has dropped to less than 10% of photonics components sold worldwide. The roadmap to be developed under this program will identify key priorities and lay out a plan for addressing this.

According to the National Research Council (Washington, DC), optics and photonics technologies are essential for our nation: they are used to fabricate integrated circuits that power all electronic devices, are central to modern defense systems and medical imaging technologies, and they enable a host of modern-day products used in everyday life including the internet, flat-panel displays, and smartphones.

"The roadmap will address critical gaps to increase our nation’s competitiveness in photonics manufacturing," says Robert L. Clark, senior vice president for research at the University of Rochester and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Our Congressional delegation fully understands the importance of bringing photonics manufacturing back to the U.S., and I want to thank them for their leadership and persistent efforts in support of this initiative. We are excited to be able to lead this effort in partnership with industry and other key stakeholders."

"The National Academies' report, 'Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation,' shouted about the abysmal state of data on optics and photonics jobs and investment in the U.S.," says SPIE CEO Dr. Eugene Arthurs. "Roadmapping should help address this deficit and illuminate the enormous potential the field holds for world-changing innovation and jobs creation. The nation had sown seeds with R&D for decades. Let's plan how best to harvest."

Area partners are on the team
Guided by the roadmap, the CEIS-led group of partners, the New York Photonics Manufacturing Initiative, will also lay the foundation for a national consortium devoted to advanced manufacturing in photonics.

"The University of Rochester and our partner organizations are honored to be given the task of organizing the development of a national technology roadmap for photonics manufacturing," said Paul Ballentine, CEIS’ deputy director. "By working with domain experts across the country and by leveraging the considerable expertise in the Rochester region, we will help the industry identify key technical barriers that need to be overcome to strengthen photonics manufacturing in the U.S."

CEIS’ partners in the initiative include the Rochester Institute of Technology's Center for Imaging Science and New York Photonics, an industry association. More than 100 companies in the optics and photonics industry in the Finger Lakes region of New York state employ 24,000 people.

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