Donors and state of South Carolina fund Clemson Optoelectronics Center of Economic Excellence

November 20, 2009--$4 million has been raised to establish the Optoelectronics Research Center of Economic Excellence at Clemson University (Clemson, SC).

November 20, 2009--$4 million has been raised to establish the Optoelectronics Research Center of Economic Excellence at Clemson University (Clemson, SC). Private gifts from telecommunications companies Comporium (Rock Hill, SC) and PalmettoNet (Columbia, SC), along with a state match, will enable launching of the center at the university's Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Adding to Clemson's COMSET
The new Center of Economic Excellence will be supported by the PalmettoNet Endowed Chair in Optoelectronics and the Comporium Fund for Excellence in Optoelectronics. It will be the nexus for a community of scholars and entrepreneurs with shared interests and expertise in optoelectronics research. The center will strengthen the research program in the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET). The center will be located along with COMSET and the Electron Microscope Facility at the Advanced Materials Research Laboratory in Anderson County.

"Optoelectronics are everywhere," said Clemson president James Barker. "They are found in lasers, television and computer screens, and in communication, medical, and defense systems. To see this technology advanced at Clemson University is an honor and we are very grateful to Comporium, PalmettoNet, and the state of South Carolina."

Holcombe Electrical and Computer Engineering Department chairman Darren Dawson said the center will be led by the PalmettoNet Endowed Chair in Optoelectronics.

"This generous funding will help create an internationally reputable program that will enable us to recruit a world-class faculty leader to the state of South Carolina to lead the research in this burgeoning area of technology," said Dawson. "We are located in a cluster area of optoelectronics companies and this center should further the creation of high tech jobs in the state."

"Optoelectronics is the core technology for PalmettoNet's 4,100 miles of lighted network throughout the Carolinas, and our support for Clemson's Optoelectronics Center is part of our continuing investment in high-speed broadband communications in South Carolina," said Vernon Williams, CEO of PalmettoNet.

Included: an optical network just for research
Clemson worked with PalmettoNet to bring National Lambda Rail to South Carolina via SC LightRail and will work with PalmettoNet on future projects. SC LightRail is a public-private partnership to provide a broadband high-speed optical network that extends throughout the state to be used exclusively for research.

The South Carolina General Assembly in 2002 established the Centers of Economic Excellence Program, which is funded by South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state's three public research institutions to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. The state funds must be matched dollar-for-dollar by private investment in the program. The program also supports endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence.
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--posted by John Wallace, johnw@pennwell.com

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