National Academies Press: OpenBook

Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation (2013)

Chapter:Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
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A

Statement of Task, with Introductory Information

The statements below introduced and presented the statement of task for the Committee on Harnessing Light: Capitalizing on Optical Science Trends and Challenges for Future Research.

BACKGROUND

The National Research Council will convene a committee to: (1) Review updates in the state of the science that have taken place since publication of the National Research Council report Harnessing Light in 1998.1 (2) Identify the technological opportunities that have arisen from recent advances in optical science and engineering. (3) Assess the current state of optical science and engineering in the United States and abroad. (4) Prioritize a set of research grand-challenge questions to fill identified technological gaps. (5) Recommend actions for the development and maintenance of global leadership in the photonics-driven industry.2

INTRODUCTION

The discipline of optical science and engineering (OSE) has been foundational for many of the scientific and technical advances of the past 100 years and

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1 National Research Council. 1998. Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

2 See the full formal statement below, in the section “Statement of Task.”

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
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is one of the key transformative disciplines driving innovation in the 21st-century economy. In 1998, the National Research Council through the Board on Physics and Astronomy and the National Materials Advisory Board issued a landmark report, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, that (1) captured the importance of optics and photonics, (2) described the major challenges facing the field, (3) made strategic recommendations for national policy, and (4) impacted the discussions of institutions around the world. As the first comprehensive report in the field of optics, Harnessing Light clearly demonstrated that optics is an enabling technology to many educational, governmental, health care, industrial, and military organizations. While the original Harnessing Light report has been extremely useful to both U.S. and foreign, academic, industrial, and governmental organizations, in the past 10 years enormous progress has been made in photonics sciences and technologies. Irrespective of the economic conditions, OSE is headed toward another strong growth period, driven by developments in advanced materials, solid state lighting, solar technologies, sensors, lasers, imaging, fiber-optic communications, digital photography, diagnostic medicine, computing/processing, and consumer displays/TVs. The impacted markets encompass critical issues that affect society, ranging from energy, data storage, and health care to manufacturing, communications, and security. A revisiting of the technology and policy issues would be quite timely. The new report would address the role that photonics plays in national competitiveness and innovation. For example, the infusion of photonics-related technologies into mass-market applications will require careful thought in order to economically and appropriately harness the necessary multifunctional manufacturing capabilities. The new study could identify national strengths and weaknesses in relation to current and future needs including economic impact, workforce needs, and future research directions. Given that the 2007 National Research Council report Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons3 includes much of the area of basic optical science, this study would consider the technology areas where optics is an enabler that can dramatically impact the economy of the country.

STATEMENT OF TASK

A committee of the National Academies will be convened to:

1. Review updates in the state of the science that have taken place since publication of the National Research Council report Harnessing Light;

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3 National Research Council. 2007. Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
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2. Identify the technological opportunities that have arisen from recent advances in and potential applications of optical science and engineering;

3. Assess the current state of optical science and engineering in the United States and abroad, including trends in private and public research, market needs, examples of translating progress in photonics innovation into competitiveness advantage (including activities by small businesses), workforce needs, manufacturing infrastructure, and the impact of photonics on the national economy;

4. Prioritize a set of research grand-challenge questions to fill identified technological gaps in pursuit of national needs and national competitiveness;

5. Recommend actions for the development and maintenance of global leadership in the photonics-driven industry—including both near-term and long-range goals, likely participants, and responsible agents of change.

In carrying out this charge, the committee will consider the materials necessary for the technological development of optics.

THE COMMITTEE

This project will be executed by an ad hoc National Research Council committee appointed to carry out this study and produce the report, under the oversight of the Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design. In recognition of the increasing importance of materials science to innovations in engineering and manufacturing, the National Materials and Manufacturing Board was formed. This Board combines the charges of two preexisting boards: the National Materials Advisory Board and the Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design. The committee will consist of about 16 experts chosen to cover the breadth of fields that are relevant to the charge. The committee membership will ideally include experts and researchers from universities, national laboratories, and industrial research centers. The committee will meet in person a total of four times over about 12 months.


Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
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Page277
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
×
Page278
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task, with Introductory Information." National Research Council. 2013. Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13491.
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Page279
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Optics and photonics technologies are ubiquitous: they are responsible for the displays on smart phones and computing devices, optical fiber that carries the information in the internet, advanced precision manufacturing, enhanced defense capabilities, and a plethora of medical diagnostics tools. The opportunities arising from optics and photonics offer the potential for even greater societal impact in the next few decades, including solar power generation and new efficient lighting that could transform the nation's energy landscape and new optical capabilities that will be essential to support the continued exponential growth of the Internet.

As described in the National Research Council report Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation, it is critical for the United States to take advantage of these emerging optical technologies for creating new industries and generating job growth. The report assesses the current state of optical science and engineering in the United States and abroad--including market trends, workforce needs, and the impact of photonics on the national economy. It identifies the technological opportunities that have arisen from recent advances in, and applications of, optical science and engineering. The report also calls for improved management of U.S. public and private research and development resources, emphasizing the need for public policy that encourages adoption of a portfolio approach to investing in the wide and diverse opportunities now available within photonics.

Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation is a useful overview not only for policymakers, such as decision-makers at relevant Federal agencies on the current state of optics and photonics research and applications but also for individuals seeking a broad understanding of the fields of optics and photonics in many arenas.

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