North Carolina Universities Work Together to Advance Photonics

November 02, 2007

Dr. Leda Lunardi, ECE Department, NC State University
Dr. Leda Lunardi, ECE Department, NC State University

A group of North and South Carolina Universities have recently come together with the purpose of promoting photonics development in the coming years.  NC State, UNC Charlotte, Duke, Clemson, and Western Carolina are hoping to turn the Carolinas into the premier source for photonics technology.  "By mutual collaboration amongst the five campuses, our strategy intends to serve as a conduit from research to commercializing photonics technologies. Usually academic researchers spend too much time trying to find the right opportunity for funding ideas that have already proven to work.", says Dr. Leda Lunardi, NC State's Campus Director on the photonics initiative.

Researchers from these institutes have formed themselves into the Carolina Photonics Consortium, or CPC.  The primary focus of the CPC is to provide funding for research projects and business startups in the region.  With the first project funding occurring in August 2007, $300 million has been distributed already.  The leaders of the Consortium believe that these funds will lead to 2-4 new businesses each year, bringing new high-tech jobs into North Carolina.

According to Dr. Lunardi, "NC State has internationally recognized research in photonic devices, optoelectronic and semiconductor materials and information technology as well. In addition, the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) program has been supporting commercialization to domestic and international markets for the last 13 years.  At least one proposal from NC State will be funded in Phase I.  In fact, NC State is the only campus being represented twofold: by the submitted proposals from different departments and through the TEC program, which will be training all campuses' researchers with the technology migration."

The CPC is not just focused on research and development, however.  Leading experts in the photonics field have been brought in to hold workshops and seminars for the member universities as well as for industry leaders.  There is also an effort to bend a portion of the research toward educational applications.  These efforts, as well as the economic opportunities which the CPC hope will be created through their backing, holds the promise of positioning North Carolina as a global leader in the photonics field for many years to come.

For more information on the Carolina Photonics Consortium, visit www.carolinasphotonics.com.