Researchers and commercial ventures in both the US and Japan have directly benefited from three years of technology exchange through the Joint US-Japan Optoelectronic Project (JOP), officials say. Devices such as tunable lasers, array waveguides and spatial light modulators have been brokered to date in 54 transactions, in some cases augmenting and accelerating federal research programs and developing concepts with near-term commercial potential. "The broker system establishes a kind of framework in which different countries with different administrative systems, different cultures, can work to accelerate the growth of this technology," said Mansoor Saifi, the US program coordinator for the project. Working in the area of optoelectronics, the project makes research prototypes available to a diverse user community. US-made vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers are popular with Japanese researchers, said Saifi, while US researchers benefit from the use of a Japanese-designed arrayed waveguide grating used in wavelength multiplexing/demultiplexing experiments. And importantly, the project helps overcome legal barriers to emerging technologies, Saifi said. For instance, program coordinators were able to significantly streamline enabling legal language on the exchanges, a factor that delayed implementation of the project for several years. Now brokers, users and suppliers are better able to make requests for exchanges and in turn receive better technical matches for their requests. "Right or wrong, many people around the world think in the US you can be sued for anything. We came up with a new document with no indemnity clause. We tell participants, 'Don't expect any long-term guarantees,' " Saifi said. Brian Gibson, director of business development for Albuquerque, N.M.-based Mode, a division of Emcore Corp., said participating in the JOP project helped his company develop a second generation of a 2-D laser array into a more viable commercial product. "JOP was helpful in consolidating the demand for our concept and promoting it within the industry. It was something we didn't have the time or resources for. We also participated in several [international] trade shows," Gibson said. "We look at them as sort of an incubator." A management committee made up of senior government officials from both countries provided guidance for the project. The Japanese Real World Computing Partnership program, the US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation lent financial support to users and suppliers, which include about 60 US participants and 54 Japanese participants. A sixth and final conference sponsored by the joint program is scheduled for next year in Japan. The topic will be optical switching. Previous conferences included optics for computing, optoelectronic interconnections for short-distance applications, heterogeneous integration technologies for packaging, optical processing and optical switching. The project is slated to continue through March 31, 2002, but may be expanded to continue with a new, possibly European, partner, Saifi said.