May 24, 2013—Six photonics industry associations have joined together to announce the launch of a National Photonics Initiative (NPI) to increase photonics research and development, add to the U.S. economy and improve national security. OSA, the American Physical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America and SPIE announced that the NPI defines a cohesive strategy to support its domestic photonics industry.

 “Life without photonics is almost unimaginable,” says OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan. “From the moment you wake up to the alarm on your smartphone, to swiping your credit card to pay for coffee, to logging into your computer and connecting with the world through the Internet, photonics makes it possible. The NPI will work to advance photonics in the areas that are most critical to the U.S., like improving the economy, creating jobs, saving lives and sparking innovation for future generations.”

The 1998 report by the National Research Council, “Harnessing Light,” presented a comprehensive overview of the importance of photonics on numerous industries. As a result, many global economies, including Korea, Germany, the European Union, Taiwan and China, responded by investment and expansion in their photonics industries, but the U.S. did not, losing its competitive advantage in some technologies, as well as jobs.

More than 100 experts from industry, academia and government drafted a white paper as part of the initiative, detailing recommendations to guide funding and investment in five key fields: advanced manufacturing, communications and information technology, defense and national security, health and medicine and energy. New opportunities in these fields such as 3-D printing, more efficient solar power, improved nuclear threat identification, more accurate cancer detection and the growth of Internet speeds and capacity, may have a significant impact on society in the next few decades.

For a copy of the white paper and for more information about the NPI, visit