US National Photonics Initiative launched

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The American Physical Society, IEEE Photonics Society, Laser Institute of America, Optical Society of America (OSA), and SPIE have announced the launch of the National Photonics Initiative.

The NPI is a collaborative US alliance that seeks to unite industry, academia and government experts to identify and advance areas of photonics critical to maintaining the country’s competitiveness and national security.

Photonics generates, controls and detects light to advance manufacturing, robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defence technologies, biometric security, image processing, communications, astronomy and more. As part of the NPI effort, more than 100 experts from industry, academia and government have collaborated to draft a white paper detailing recommendations to guide funding and investment in five key photonics-driven fields. They are: advanced manufacturing, communications and information technology, defence and national security, health and medicine, and energy.

‘Life without photonics is almost unimaginable. From the moment you wake up to the alarm on your smart phone, to swiping your credit card to pay for coffee, to logging into your computer and connecting with the world through the Internet, photonics makes it possible,’ said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan. ‘The NPI will work to advance photonics in the areas that are most critical to the US, like improving the economy, creating jobs, saving lives and sparking innovation for future generations.’

In 2012, the National Research Council released Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation, which called for a national photonics initiative to regain US leadership in key photonic-driven fields. In response to that call, the NPI was established. ‘The EU, Germany, Korea, Taiwan and China all recognise the importance of photonics, and have taken action,’ said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. ‘The US Department of Defense, for example, has long supported photonics, but more photonics research is needed to maintain our national security in the face of non-traditional threats.’