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National Photonics Initiative (NPI)

National Photonics Initiative

NPI Webinar: National Cancer Moonshot

The National Photonics Initiative held a webinar on 30 June 2016 to discuss Achieving the Goals of the National Cancer Moonshot through Adoption of New and Enhanced Technologies and a Transformed IT Health System Confirmation. 

NPI Webinar Invitation

Watch the Webinar.

Presenters Included:
- Jerry SH Lee, Office of the Vice President
- Lauren Leiman, Office of the Vice President
- Carolyn (Bo) Aldigé, Prevent Cancer Foundation
- Shandi Barney, Advanced Medical Technology
- Jim Mulshine, Rush University
- Joelle Fathi, Swedish Cancer Institute

Moderator: Tom Baer, NPI Cancer Moonshot Task Force

Learn More:  NPI has also created this white paper and cancer technology road map that identifies the most promising existing and new technologies for increased and concerted private and public investment to achieve the goals of the National Cancer Moonshot – accelerate the early detection of cancer and save lives. Download the road map.

Webinar Overview:  The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, unveiled a white paper and cancer technology road map that identifies the most promising existing and new technologies for increased and concerted private and public investment to achieve the goals of the National Cancer Moonshot – accelerate the early detection of cancer and save lives. The webinar details a commitment made by the scientific community, leading medical technology industry, over 350 hospitals and major patient advocacy groups across the nation to leverage the more than $3 billion annual private investments in cancer research toward early detection technologies of the most aggressive cancers.


Senate Science and Technology Leaders Introduce the American Innovation and
Competitiveness Act

On Thursday, 23 June 2016, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) released the details of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), which is the Senate’s version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. The bipartisan bill maximizes basic research by reducing administrative burdens for researchers, enhancing agency oversight, improving research dissemination, and reforming federal science agencies to increase the impact of taxpayer-funded research. The Commerce Committee is set to consider this bipartisan science bill on 29 June 2016.

The Committee's press release and the text of the bill are now available on the Committee's website.


Website launched for American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics)

Vice President Joe Biden, Integrated photonics institute for manufacturing innovationAIM Photonics, driven by public-private partnerships, was organized to improve integrated photonics in commercial and defense applications. The new AIM Photonics website can be accessed here.

US Vice President Joseph Biden (at left) announced 27 July 2015 that AIM Photonics would be located in New York and receive funds from the Department of Defense 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. SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy committee chair Jim McNally called the establishment of AIM Photonics a win for the entire photonics community, and SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs underscored the efforts of volunteers and constituents who "have worked diligently to raise the awareness of the importance of photonics that has led to this point." Read more in the SPIE press release.


The report that got it all going

In August 2012, the National Research Council of the National Academies released its highly anticipated report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation," updating its 1998 "Harnessing Light" study. The report assessed the current state of optics, photonics, and optical engineering in the United States, prioritized research grand-challenge questions to fill technological gaps, and recommended actions to support global leadership in photonics-driven industry.

Following one of the report's key recommendations, SPIE and four other photonics and optics societies launched the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a collaborative alliance among industry, academia, and government. The coalition of societies includes Founding Sponsors SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and The Optical Society (OSA) and Sponsors the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, and the Laser Institute of America (LIA).

Overall, NPI's Goals are:

  • raise awareness of photonics and the impact of photonics in our everyday lives
  • increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields
  • drive US funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining US economic competitiveness and national security

Click here to visit the NPI website.

Harnessing Light II co-chairsHarnessing Light II committee co-chairs (at left) Alan Willner and Paul McManamon led the first public discussion following release of the committee's findings in August 2012. Speakers at the San Diego launch also included Study Director Erik Svedberg, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs and SPIE Industry and Market Strategist Stephen Anderson.

For more background on the report, read commentary from committee members and other project leaders, access slides from the launch presentation and watch video interviews from


Your objective: Help get the word out!

Become a spokesperson for photonics in your online network or in your community by sharing news about the launch of the NPI and facts about the importance of photonics in our everyday lives:

  • Post about the NPI on your Facebook page and link to the NPI website:

  • Tweet about the NPI and link to the NPI website. Use #NPI or #NationalPhotonicsInitiative.

  • Draft and submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Clarify or support contentions made in a previously published article, or tie to an article about a photonics technology and frame the letter as a "did you know" piece.

  • Draft and submit an op-ed to your local newspaper. Express  your opinion on a timely issue of local interest (e.g., the economy, jobs, technology development, research findings).

  • Invite members of Congress to attend a photonics-focused event at your company or university or in your district.

  • Attend a town hall meeting hosted by your member of Congress and ask about his or her plan for investing in America through photonics.

  • Take NPI materials (see links below) to meetings on Capitol Hill to educate members about the initiative and photonics.


Other NPI News

Read the June 2015 National Photonics Initiative newsletter

6 November 2014, National Photonics Initiative applauds federal dompetition to create an Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI): President Obama announced his administration’s intent to expand his National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, making the IP-IMI the largest federal investment.

8 October 2014, Optical Society of Southern California holds a successful National Photonics Initiative event: With 170 attendees, the successful event included an NPI panel with panelists including Robert Lieberman, President of Lumoptix and Vice President of SPIE; Thomas Baer, Stanford Photonics Research Center and OSA Past President, and past NPI Steering Committee Chair; Gary Spiegel, SPIE Secretary/Treasurer and retired Senior EVP of Newport Corp.; and Bruce Tromberg, UC Irvine Beckman Laser Institute; with special guests Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (California) and other elected officials.

3 October 2014, President Obama announces $200 million in public-private investment for integrated photonics manufacturing facility: President Barack Obama announced a new competition to award more than $200 million in public and private investment to create an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute. This announcement of the largest federal investment to date validates what the US photonics industry has known and advocated for a long time: photonics technologies has the potential to solve many of today's challenges while creating jobs, boosting our economy, and protecting national security.

30 September 2014, US photonics industry leaders commit upwards of $30M to support the President’s BRAIN Initiative: Over the next three years, NPI members commit to investing in optics and photonics technology.

22 July 2014, NSF seeks innovative optics and photonics proposals: In the interest of maintaining the US as a leader of scientific innovation, the NSF is calling for optics and photonics research proposals relevant to mathematical and physical sciences, computer and information science and engineering, or divisions in the directorates for engineering.

Read more articles on the NPI website:

 Resources and materials

NPI - photonics IMI fact sheet

Facts About the New Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation

Fast-Track Aciton Committee on Optics and Photonics

Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (PDF 1,287 KB)

Managing a Successful Congressional Visit

How-To toolkit on guiding a successful Congressional visit (PDF 1MB)

NPI launch slides

NPI launch webinar slides (PDF 598 KB)

NPI one-pager

NPI one-page flyer (PDF 165 KB)

NPI Technology Road Map for the BRAIN Initiative

NPI Technology Road Map for the BRAIN Initiative (PDF 815 KB)


NPI report: "Lighting the Path" (PDF 3 MB)

Summary: Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies

Summary: "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation" (PDF 3 MB)

NA report: Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies

National Academies' report "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation"

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'I use optics and photonics ...'

Researchers show in this brief video (1:38) how they use optics and photonics to kill cancer, treat brain disorders, make computers run faster, convert cell phones into sophisticated wireless diagnostic devices, identify concealed explosives, and more (above, Naomi Halas of Rice University).