In an effort to advance optical communications technology, Corning Incorporated plans to convert an existing company property in Somerset, N.J., to a photonic research and test center. The center will employ between 10 and 20 research scientists and technicians who will test the performance of Corning's optical fiber. Besides optical fiber, Corning scientists will test couplers, fiber connects and various photonic components of optical amplifiers. A spokesman for the company said the photonics research center was part of the company's strategy to enhance the performance of its optical communications products. Earlier this year Corning broke ground for a plant in Irwin, N.Y., for light assembly of fiber optic devices. The research center is set to open by early 1998.