Logo: University of Southern California

USC-Led Photonics Institute Proposal One of Three National Finalists

Proposal for a federally-funded photonics institute a strong partnership between USC, UC campuses, national universities and the industry
By: Megan Hazle
February 06, 2015 —

The proposal by the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to establish a new Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) has advanced to the final round of consideration for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) funding.

“The USC proposal represents a strong partnership with top universities from California and the nation and enjoys the support of a wide spectrum of industry and the public sector in California,” said Dr. Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “We are privileged to lead this partnership for the benefit of California and the nation.”

In October 2014, President Barack Obama announced a competition to award more than $220 million in public and private investment to establish the DoD-led IP-IMI as part of his administration’s effort to invest in American manufacturing. The available $110 million in federal funding spans a 5-year period and must be matched by at least another $110 million from a consortium of companies as well as state and local governments.

“We are delighted that we have been selected as one of the three finalists in that competition,” said Dr. John Damoulakis, Director of Advanced Electronics Division at USC ISI. “The photonics industry is very important to California, where the majority of the relevant companies are located, but also to our partner states of Arizona, New Mexico and Ohio. With the solid support of the State of California, our partner states and both the commercial and defense industries, we are looking forward to this final step in the competition.”

The proposed institute, named the Integrated Photonics Institute and Center for Design and Manufacturing Services (IPI-CDMS), includes a consortium comprising a number of companies representing both the defense and commercial markets, with many of them located in California and partner states. If successful, IPI-CDMS would be headquartered in Los Angeles and have several regional hubs: in Berkeley at the University of California-Berkeley; in San Diego at the University of California-San Diego; in Tempe at Arizona State University; in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico; and in Columbus at the Ohio State University. The headquarters and hubs would each focus on specific market segments and would work closely with the regional industry. Both USC ISI and the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) will participate in the formation of the Los Angeles headquarters.

Photonics includes the generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing of light and covers all technical applications of light. Economically important applications for semiconductor photonic devices include optical data recording, fiber optic telecommunications, laser printing, displays, optical pumping of high-power lasers, sensors, and medical applications and devices. The potential applications of photonics are virtually unlimited for both the commercial and defense industry.

The U.S. photonics industry, which already has annual revenues of several billion dollars, is expected to double in size over the next decade. It currently supports over 100,000 high-paying jobs and California is home to most of the companies in the United States that provide photonics products; a photonics institute located in California would be a powerful job creation engine and would serve as a magnet to attract other companies in the supply-chain.

“The USC-led consortium includes national and world leaders in every key area of the photonics industry; by harnessing our collective resources and strengths and through engagement with stakeholders at the regional and national levels, we are uniquely poised to advance US leadership in the area of photonics,” said Dr. Prem Natarajan, Executive Director of USC ISI and Vice Dean of Engineering at USC Viterbi.

The full and final application will be submitted on March 31 and the final selection is expected to be announced in June 2015.