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New York bid wins US photonics manufacturing competition

The White House has announced the winner of the Integrated Photonics Institute

for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI): the consortium led by the State University of New York (SUNY). The New York group was chosen over bids led by the University of Central Florida and University of Southern California. Proposed as part of President Obama’s National

Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the new photonics institute is being established to bring government, industry and academia closer together to advance state-of-the-art photonics technology and make the United States more competitive in this critical new industry. The total investment will exceed $610 million

over five years – including $110 million in federal funds and more than $250 million promised by New York State – to create and support thousands of advanced research and manufacturing jobs. This makes the photonics institute the largest public- private commitment to date for a manufacturing institute launched in the United States. The communications industry will be one of the main beneficiaries of the investment as integrated photonics can revolutionise optical transmission by improving capacity, speed and energy efficiency. Now christened the American Institute for

Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM), the new institute will be headquartered in Rochester, New York, with access to a major silicon fabrication facility at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and additional hubs located in Massachusetts and the West Coast. In total, AIM consists of more than 50 companies, 20 universities, 33 community colleges, and 16 non-profit organisations across 20 states. The principal investigator and AIM CEO is

Professor Michael Liehr of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany. He said: ‘Today’s announcement is a testament to the outstanding

4 FIBRE SYSTEMS Issue 9 • Autumn 2015

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Vice President Joe Biden announces that the federal government will provide $110 million in funding for an institute for photonics in Rochester, New York

team of industrial and academic leaders assembled by AIM Photonics and its plan to establish the US as a global leader in this emerging technology.’ The West Coast operations of the AIM will be

co-ordinated at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) under the leadership of John Bowers, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. UCSB is well-known for its work on integrating lasers onto silicon, and its photonics research has spun out several companies in the optical communications space, including Aurrion, Agility Communications, and Calient Technologies. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Institute of

Technology (MIT) will manage important parts of the program: Michael Watts, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer

science, will lead the technological development in silicon photonics. The world’s largest silicon-based photonic circuit to date was designed at MIT and built using industry-standard 300-mm silicon wafers in the facility at SUNY Polytechnic, he points out. MIT’s Lionel Kimerling, the Thomas Lord

Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, will also lead a program in education and workforce development. ‘Europe is ahead in industry coordination right now,’ following a decade of government investment, he said. He added that this new US initiative is ‘one of the first of this kind in the US, and the bet is that the innovation and research here, combined with the manufacturing capability, will allow our companies to really take off.’

J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

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