Speaker: Professor Rod C. Alferness, Dean of the College of Engineering, UC, Santa Barbara
Abstract: Innovation leadership to drive economic strength depends upon research advances as well as the ability to transfer that new knowledge into products and services that bring value and enhance daily life for end users. With the reduction of industrial research centers in the US, universities increasingly are taking on the role of technology transfer in addition to their traditional role of research. A 2013 NRC report on the future of photonics recommended that for the US to remain competitive in this important industry focus on photonic integration, emphasis on data center applications and leveraging university, industry, government partnerships would be essential. This recommendation was well timed with the launch of President Obama’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) initiative; integrated photonics was selected as the theme of the sixth NNMI Institute. American Institute for Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a consortium of companies and universities led by the State University of New York, was selected to build and lead the Integrated Photonics Institute, which was launched at the beginning of this year.
We provide a brief historical review of the evolution of optical communication networks- a key application area for photonics. While these multi-terabit/sec communication networks were enabled by major research advances in the US, today’s leading market share vendors are non-US companies. Increasingly, optical links and networks over shorter spans, including those inside data centers, are expected to be a strong market driver, especially as robust integration of photonics on silicon becomes commercially viable. This is one of the key market applications for integrated photonics addressed by AIM Photonics; others include RF systems, optical scanning systems and emerging sensors. We provide an overview of the AIM Photonics Institute, including its vision and goals, operation and governance model, membership structure.