Photonics: What? Why? How? Rochester is freaking out for photonics. But what is it?

Rochester is undeniably excited about photonics, even if much of the community doesn’t know what it is.

But there’s good reason for the buzz, since Rochester will be the heart of a national initiative to build an integrated photonics industry from the ground up. The Department of Defense is keen on integrated photonics, which basically weds ultra-high-tech optical systems with high-tech electronics. It’s putting approximately $115 million into the initiative, known as the American Institute for Manufacturing Photonics.

The DOD solicited proposals from across the country, and a contingent led by SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany, University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology submitted the winning application. The pitch included an additional $250-million investment from New York State; a $250-million investment from the photonics industry, research universities, and other states; and a headquarters in Rochester — a region with a long, pioneering history in photonics’ twin field of optics.

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New York Photonics is a not-for-profit organization founded to promote and enhance the New York State optics, photonics and imaging industry by fostering the cooperation of business, academia and government.

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