Vice President Biden Announces Details of Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Center in New York

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Vice President Joseph Biden announced details Monday morning of the new American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) to be established in New York with Department of Defense matching funds and other public-private investments totaling $610 million. SPIE leaders were among others from the photonics community who were on hand for the formal announcement of the new center, to be operated by a consortium of companies and university research institutes from around the USA.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announcing the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announcing the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics

The AIM Photonics will lead diverse research toward the products of the future.

Leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, were among invited guests from the photonics community on hand in Rochester Monday morning for the formal announcement by Vice President Joseph Biden of the new American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics).

A consortium led by the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) of 75 key partners and 49 additional consortia members including SPIE has won a three-way competition to establish the center, which is being founded with a Department of Defense matching grant of $110 million. Already $610 million in public-private investments has been pledged.

Quoting Nobel Laureate Sir William Bragg, who said “Light brings us the news of the universe,” the Vice President said that sentiment has never been more true than it is today.

Biden cited several important areas where photonics will have an impact, including communications, medicine, and defense. All the data centers in United States consume as much power as the entire state of New York, he noted – but photonics offers the potential to reduce that a hundredfold.

The vice president said that a decline in U.S. manufacturing is turning around, citing recent surveys that indicate a growing optimism about investment in the United States, with $936 billion in foreign investment.

He stressed the need to “build the most modern infrastructure in the world, and have the most skilled workforce in the world. We’ve gone from crisis to recovery, to on the verge of resurgence.” He compared the establishment of the AIM Photonics to bold economic moves from American history – the creation of DARPA and the construction of the transcontinental railroad.

“It’s my pleasure to announce what’s already been announced,” he said, referring to last week’s publication of the news in the Rochester media. “The science of light will only get brighter in Rochester.”

Photonics community members noted the concerted efforts to raise awareness that led to the establishment of the new institute.

“SPIE volunteers and constituents have worked diligently to raise the awareness of the importance of that has led to this point,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “It represents many demonstrations and conversations sharing data about the economic impact of the industry as well as personal and professional stories about how photonics enhances and even saves lives.”

“Today’s announcement is the capstone of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) and the result of three years of intense effort by volunteers and staff promoting the creation of this newest and largest institute within the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI),” said Thomas Baer of the Stanford Photonics Research Center, and former chair of the NPI Steering Committee.

SPIE and The Optical Society (OSA) are Founding Sponsors of the NPI.

The magnificent images coming from the New Horizons mission to Pluto are examples of the fruits of photonics, Arthurs said. Another is the work in using light to reveal how the living brain functions.

With pressing challenges in sustainable energy and global medicine, the focus on integrated photonics of the new institute is very timely and offers enormous potential for new capabilities, Arthurs said.

“The AIM Photonics will lead diverse research toward the products of the future. If we pay close attention to retaining the benefits of the intellectual property generated at such facilities, the local regions and the country will benefit enormously,” Arthurs said.

“It has been gratifying to see so many of the major stakeholders in the photonic integration community join together to support this major federal initiative,” said Thomas Koch, Dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. “We all believe that the capabilities that will emerge from this endeavor will be instrumental in driving innovation and strengthening the U.S. position in this vitally important technology. The applications that will be enabled by chip-scale, highly integrated photonics and electronics are boundless.”

“Our societies were not content upon the publication in 2012 of the National Academies report ‘Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation’ in having a nice report, but were determined that this time the report would have national impact,” said Tom Battley, Executive Director of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster and New York Photonics. “Through the NPI, the best and brightest minds in optics and photonics led the effort. There would not be an AIM Photonics without that leadership.”

Also in Rochester for the announcement were New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rochester
Mayor Lovely Warren, Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York), and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014.

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