Print PageEmail Page

National Photonics Initiative (NPI)


Optical Society of Southern California holds a successful National Photonics Initiative Event: With 170 attendees, the successful event included an NPI Panel with panelists including Dr. Robert Lieberman, President of Lumoptix and Vice President of SPIE; Dr. Thomas Baer, Stanford Photonics Research Center and OSA Past President, NPI Steering Committee Chair;  Mr. Gary Spiegel, SPIE Secretary/Treasurer and retired Senior EVP of Newport Corp.; Prof. Bruce Tromberg, UC Irvine Beckman Laser Institute; with Special Guests: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and other elected officials. Read more  


President Obama announces $200 million in public-private investment for integrated photonics manufacturing facility: 3 October, President Barack Obama announced a new competition to award more than $200 million in public and private investment to create an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute. This announcement of the largest federal investment to date validates what the US photonics industry has known and advocated for a long time: photonics technologies has the potential to solve many of today's challenges while creating jobs, boosting our economy, and protecting national security.


National Photonics Initiative

Your objective: Help get the word out!

Become a spokesperson for photonics in your online network or in your community by sharing news about the launch of the NPI and facts about the importance of photonics in our everyday lives:

  • Post about the NPI on your Facebook page and link to the NPI website:

  • Tweet about the NPI and link to the NPI website. Use #NPI or #NationalPhotonicsInitiative.

  • Draft and submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Clarify or support contentions made in a previously published article, or tie to an article about a photonics technology and frame the letter as a "did you know" piece.

  • Draft and submit an op-ed to your local newspaper. Express  your opinion on a timely issue of local interest (e.g., the economy, jobs, technology development, research findings).

  • Invite your members of Congress to attend a photonics-focused event at your company or university or in your district.

  • Attend a town hall meeting hosted by your member of Congress and ask about his or her plan for investing in America through photonics.

  • Take NPI materials (see links below) to meetings on Capitol Hill to educate members about the initiative and photonics.


Read the October National Photonics Initiative newsletter

Resources and materials

Managing a Successful Congressional Visit

'How-To toolkit on guiding a successful Congressional visit (PDF 1MB)


NPI report: "Lighting the Path" (PDF 3 MB)

NPI launch slides

NPI launch webinar slides (PDF 598 KB)

NPI one-pager

NPI one-page flyer (PDF 165 KB)

Summary: Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies

Summary: "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation" (PDF 3 MB)

NA report: Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies

National Academies' report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation"


NPI - brain fact sheet

NPI - photonics IMI fact sheet

NPI - photonics fact sheet

Report to the President - "Accelerating U.S. Advanced Manufacturing"

Report to the President - "Accelerating U.S. Advanced Manufacturing"



The report that got it all going

In August 2012, the National Research Council of the National Academies released its highly anticipated report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation," updating its 1998 "Harnessing Light" study. The report assesses the current state of optics, photonics, and optical engineering in the United States, prioritizes research grand-challenge questions to fill technological gaps, and recommends actions to support global leadership in photonics-driven industry.

Following one of the report's key recommendations, SPIE and four other photonics and optics societies launched the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government. The coalition of societies includes Founding Sponsors SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and The Optical Society (OSA) and Sponsors the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, and the Laser Institute of America (LIA).

Goals of the NPI are to:

  • raise awareness of photonics and the impact of photonics in our everyday lives
  • increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields
  • drive US funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining US economic competitiveness and national security.

Harnessing Light II co-chairs

Harnessing Light II committee co-chairs (at left) Alan Willner and Paul McManamon led the first public discussion following release of the committee's findings in August 2012. Speakers at the San Diego launch also included Study Director Erik Svedberg, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs and SPIE Industry and Market Strategist Stephen Anderson.

For more background on the report, read commentary from committee members and other project leaders, access slides from the launch presentation and watch video interviews from



New articles on the NPI

Laser Focus WorldBusiness Forum: The National Photonics Initiative is making an impact
Laser Focus World, 14 October 2013
The National Photonics Initiative has brought awareness of the importance of photonics to the highest levels of government, notes SPIE Past President Paul McManamon of Exciting Technology, in a Business Forum discussion with Milton Chang. McManamon co-chaired the authoring committee of the 2012 National Research Council (NRC) report Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies that recommended the NPI. .

The Hill

Advancing American competitiveness by harnessing the power of light
The Hill, 9 October 2013
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter writes: "As we look for ways to keep America competitive in this new century, the OPID  (optics, photonics, imaging, and display) industry and the research that supports it is a vital asset that the United States must nurture and protect."

Photonics.comRep. Honda sees photonics at work in Directed Light visit, 20 September 2013
U.S. Mike Honda toured Directed Light Inc., becoming the latest member of Congress to learn how photonics boosts the local and national economy as part of the National Photonics Initiative.

Inside Tucson BusinessLet there be light: Photonics holds big promise
Inside Tucson Business, 13 September 2013
"When was the last time you searched the Internet, watched television, drove a car or texted on your smartphone? Now consider this: All of these modern-day conveniences are made possible largely because of light." U.S. Rep. Ron Barber writes a guest editorial.

Rochester Business JournalOptics event to focus on region's role nationally
Rochester Business Journal, 23 August 2013
The global optics industry's market is estimated at $500 billion, with 1.5 million jobs in the United States directly related to or enabled by optics and photonics technologies. Photonics -- the application of light -- is used in technologies including lasers, computer chips, solar-energy panels, sensors and displays. It is found in manufacturing, medicine, defense and security, lighting and more. "Photonics is actually everywhere," said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Read more articles on the NPI website:



Free Posters and DVDs

Request free posters or DVDs by email from Ms. Pascale Barnett at

What can you do with energy-efficient optics and photonics poster

Poster:What Can You Do With Energy-Efficient Optics and Photonics? (PDF 651 KB)

Optics and Photonics Poster

Poster: What Can You Do With Optics and Photonics? (PDF 1.3 MB)

Light as a Ray

Poster: Light as a Ray (PDF 584 KB)

Light as a Wave poster Poster: Light as a Wave (PDF 3.25 MB)
Light in Action DVD

DVD: Light in Action
Audience age: 9-11
Interactive experiments and simple animations help communicate basic principles about light.

Optics: Light at Work

DVD: Optics: Light at Work
Audience age: 12-13
Real-world applications of optics technology, with examples such as nanomedicine, space telescopes, invisibility, and solar energy.

NPI badge

Wear the badge!

Show your support for the National Photonics Initiative! Place an NPI web badge on your organization's website, blog, and printed materials, and in the signature line of your e-mail. Please link from your online page to the NPI website:

Download the web badge in your choice of formats:



NPI Learn how to sign on as a Collaborator with the NPI



To get updates about the NPI, sign up for SPIE's Public Policy E-Newsletter



'I use optics and photonics ...'

'I use photonics' video Naomi Halas

Researchers show in this brief video (1:38) how they use optics and photonics to kill cancer, treat brain disorders, make computers run faster, convert cell phones into sophisticated wireless diagnostic devices, identify concealed explosives, and more (above, Naomi Halas of Rice University).



Volunteers speak out for photonics

Backers of the National Photonics Initiative have been busy all across the country, with town hall meetings, presentations, and other activities in support of photonics.

volunteers for NPI fly-in

volunteers for SET Congressional Visits Day

NPI briefing in Washington, D.C.