The “average person, or average congressman” doesn’t know much about photonics, according to a coalition of industry and academic groups pushing a National Photonics Initiative.
Part of the problem could easily be the name, said Thomas Koch, dean of the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, who hosted a push for greater recognition at the college Wednesday, inviting Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., to hear pleas for greater federal involvement in promoting the industry and funding research.
People recognize the term “optics” as dealing with lenses and light, Koch said. “Photonics,” the generation and detection of that light, puts the science of optics to work, he said.
“We use the terms interchangeably most of the time in the field,” Koch said.
Barber, after touring the nearby Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, where astronomers and optical scientists devise sophisticated measuring techniques for the world’s largest telescope mirrors, pledged to carry the message to Washington.