International Year of Light heading to Washington, D.C., on 12 September

Family Science Fun, Nobel Laureate speakers Shuji Nakamura, Eric Betzig highlight programs

26 August 2015

International Year of Light in Washington, D.C.WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- To promote the progress and promise of light research and education, leading U.S. science organizations will host two events on Saturday 12 September in Washington.

The events are organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in conjunction with the American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, IEEE Photonics Society, National Academy of Sciences, Optical Society, and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The two day and evening programs will mark the International Year of Light, a yearlong celebration of light science and its applications, as proclaimed by the United Nations.

These events will feature the latest in light-based technologies as well as leading scientists and educators to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light in the modern world.

Wonders of Light: Family Science Fun

  • WHAT: An educational event for school-age children with activities demonstrating the science of light
  • WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. E.T. on Saturday 12 September
  • WHERE: The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20560
  • WHO: The public is welcome; no RSVP required.

The first 1,000 visitors will receive an International Year of Light tote bag.

  • Hands-on activities include:
  • An LED-orb that changes color with music
  • An interactive video game using sensors
  • A green screen to be a science reporter for a day

Prizes will be awarded hourly starting at 11 a.m. in a light-trivia quiz.

Light for a Better World: A Celebration of U.S. Innovation

  • WHAT: A public symposium and invitation-only reception
  • WHEN: 6-9 p.m. E.T. on 12 September
  • WHERE: National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20418
  • WHO: Media and invited guests. Interested members of the media, please contact

This symposium will feature opening remarks from France Córdova, National Science Foundation Director, followed by:

  • Shuji Nakamura, University of California Santa Barbara, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner, on "Development of the blue LED and some of the broader implications"
  • Eric Betzig, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner, on "All things great and small: the role of telescopes and microscopes in understanding our universe and ourselves"
  • Gerald Duffy, GE Lighting Manager, on "Solid state lighting: transforming our world"
  • Michael Liehr, AIM Photonics CEO, on "The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) -- what merging nanophotonics with electronics will do."

About The International Year of Light

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015-from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.  The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

The Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), American Physical Society (APS), Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), European Physical Society (EPS), Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), Light: Science and Applications, the International Network, 1001 Inventions, the Optical Society (OSA), and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, Thorlabs, and UL.

For more information on the International Year of Light, please visit,

For more information about NSF-funded light research and education, visit

About NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. SPIE is a Founding Partner of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies and a Founding Sponsor of the U.S. National Photonics Initiative.



Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
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