New U.S. Senate bill includes language on optics and photonics

Introduced on July 31, a new Senate bill called the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act contains language that identifies optics and photonics research and technologies as ways to strengthen U.S. global competitiveness in industrial sectors.

Introduced on July 31, a new Senate bill called the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act contains language that identifies optics and photonics research and technologies as ways to strengthen U.S. global competitiveness in industrial sectors.

The bill from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller (D, NY), says that "optics and photonics research and technologies promote U.S. global competitiveness in industry sectors, including telecommunications and information technology, energy, healthcare and medicine, manufacturing, and defense."

It goes on to say that Federal science agencies, industry, and academia should seek partnerships to develop basic research in optics and photonics into more mature technologies and capabilities, and that the agencies, as appropriate, should identify optics and photonics-related programs within their agencies. In addition, it suggests that Federal science agencies should partner with the private sector and academia to leverage knowledge and resource and to promote innovation in optics and photonics.

The America COMPETES Act first became law in 2007, and was reauthorized in 2010. Its intention was to drive investment in innovation through research and development, and to improve the competitiveness of the United States in the global marketplace.

America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Reauthorization Act of 2014 has received support from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

“We are gratified and delighted to see support for optics and photonics in this legislation. This recognition underscores the vital roles that applications of these technologies play in the lives of people everywhere,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs in a press release. “Senator Rockefeller and the committee are to be commended for this sound inclusion, and the membership and partners of SPIE are grateful for their vision.”

In addition, Arthurs noted that research reported at SPIE events and published in the society’s journals, conference proceedings, and books show the vast potential of optics and photonics.

“Our constituents are the scientists and engineers who are developing new light-based technologies to detect and treat conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and epilepsy. They conceptualized and built the internet and are working on integrated photonics technologies for the next generation of computing,” he said.

He went on to mention how optics and photonics are used in developing sustainable energy sources more efficient lighting, and other technologies to meet the word’s growing energy needs and improve the economy.

View the SPIE press release.

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