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OSA, Industry Groups Gather to Showcase Optics, Photonics

Leaders in the optics and photonics community joined The Optical Society (OSA) last Thursday for a daylong event showcasing how optics and photonics can enable innovation, solve problems, facilitate economic growth and improve lives.

Hosted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the event highlighted the recently released NAS report: Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation, which discusses the state of optical sciences and opportunities for future growth.

The study, which follows a similar report published in 1998 known as Harnessing Light, identifies the technological and economic opportunities the science of optics and photonics has enabled, assesses market trends, provides examples of where progress in photonics innovation has translated into economic benefits, and makes recommendations for future research and policies that advance the field of optics and photonics.

A key recommendation of the report is the formation of a National Photonics Initiative (NPI) partnering public and private groups that will focus on photonics R&D funding, analyze economic impacts and activities of the industry, and support collaboration across scientific fields of study in which optics and photonics play a key role. An advisory committee has been created to establish the NPI and implement its goals. Representatives will include members from the American Physical Society, OSA, SPIE, IEEE Photonics Society, Laser Institute of America and the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association.

“The NPI will provide an opportunity to create the infrastructure for ongoing industry road mapping, economic impact analysis and improved interface between industry, academia, and government funding agencies,” said OSA past President Thomas Baer of Stanford Photonics Research Center and chairman of the NPI advisory committee. “We believe an NPI is essential to advancing the field of optics and look forward to continued discussion and collaboration with our industry partners as we work toward the creation of this important initiative.”

The event featured talks from leaders in the energy, communications, advanced manufacturing, biomedical and defense fields, who discussed future industry needs in their respective areas, along with perspectives on investments that would support innovation and job creation. Participants included:

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