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SPIE Professional April 2013

National Photonics Initiative moves forward

SPIE helps prepare recommendations

Optics and Photonics, SPIE report cover image

A National Photonics Initiative (NPI) is being developed to increase collaboration and coordination among U.S. industry, government, and academia and to identify and advance areas of photonics critical to maintaining competitiveness and national security.

Recommendations on how to maintain national leadership in optics and photonics are expected to be released by cooperating societies in April, just eight months after a National Research Council report advanced the idea.

“Photonics is a critical enabler for our high-tech economy,” says SPIE Fellow and past SPIE President Paul McManamon, a co-chair of the committee that wrote the report, “Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation.”

“The Internet, MRIs and CAT scans, and space-mission spinoffs such as optical blood diagnostic instruments and infrared cameras that indicate hot spots in a fire are just a few examples of photonics-enabled applications,” McManamon says. “We need the National Photonics Initiative to help our nation capture emerging markets and create jobs."

More than 100 representatives from government, academia, and the photonics industry convened in Washington, DC, in late February to develop recommendations for the NPI and move the proposal forward. The event, "Optics & Photonics: Lighting A Path for the Future," included briefings by subcommittee chairs and industry representatives on future needs.

Technology experts from the five key optics and photonics sectors — communication, defense, health and medicine, manufacturing, and energy — participated in industry-driven working groups to develop specific recommendations for leadership in each sector.

photo from NPI meeting

The February event was sponsored by SPIE, the Optical Society (OSA), IEEE Photonics Society, American Physical Society, and the Laser Institute of America.

SPIE Fellow Alan Willner, who co-chaired the committee with McManamon, attended and participated in a panel discussion along with committee members Tom Baer and Edward White.

SPIE Fellows Robert Lieberman and John Bruning (also a member of the SPIE Board of Directors) and SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs also attended.

Learn more about the NPI.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201304.03

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