is one of the key transformative disciplines driving innovation in the 21st-century economy. In 1998, the National Research Council through the Board on Physics and Astronomy and the National Materials Advisory Board issued a landmark report, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, that (1) captured the importance of optics and photonics, (2) described the major challenges facing the field, (3) made strategic recommendations for national policy, and (4) impacted the discussions of institutions around the world. As the first comprehensive report in the field of optics, Harnessing Light clearly demonstrated that optics is an enabling technology to many educational, governmental, health care, industrial, and military organizations. While the original Harnessing Light report has been extremely useful to both U.S. and foreign, academic, industrial, and governmental organizations, in the past 10 years enormous progress has been made in photonics sciences and technologies. Irrespective of the economic conditions, OSE is headed toward another strong growth period, driven by developments in advanced materials, solid state lighting, solar technologies, sensors, lasers, imaging, fiber-optic communications, digital photography, diagnostic medicine, computing/processing, and consumer displays/TVs. The impacted markets encompass critical issues that affect society, ranging from energy, data storage, and health care to manufacturing, communications, and security. A revisiting of the technology and policy issues would be quite timely. The new report would address the role that photonics plays in national competitiveness and innovation. For example, the infusion of photonics-related technologies into mass-market applications will require careful thought in order to economically and appropriately harness the necessary multifunctional manufacturing capabilities. The new study could identify national strengths and weaknesses in relation to current and future needs including economic impact, workforce needs, and future research directions. Given that the 2007 National Research Council report Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons3 includes much of the area of basic optical science, this study would consider the technology areas where optics is an enabler that can dramatically impact the economy of the country.


A committee of the National Academies will be convened to:

1. Review updates in the state of the science that have taken place since publication of the National Research Council report Harnessing Light;


3 National Research Council. 2007. Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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