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RIT Photonics

Overview

Photons carry the energy and information essential to modern life. Through them, we explore the Universe, probe the human body, harvest solar power, build ultrafast and secure communication networks, and extend Moore’s Law beyond the barriers of electronics. Photonics is the field of technology that is concerned with using photons to process information or energy. Advanced photonics represents the cutting edge of the field of photonics. Our vision is an Institute that will develop advanced photonics and apply them for use in solving the most pressing problems in the world. By realizing this vision, the Future Photon Initiative (FPI) will become one of the most effective applied photon research and development centers in the world.

FPI will apply, and commercialize, the efforts of existing RIT groups who develop technology for the generation, transmission, manipulation, absorption, and detection of photons. The proposed new Institute leverages unique assets at RIT in order to capitalize on historical strengths of the Rochester region while realizing the vision of emerging initiatives, such as the new American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics. Our activities will strengthen some of the strongest applied research groups at RIT while providing new conduits between those groups and commercialization opportunities. The new Institute will place a strong, and somewhat non-traditional, emphasis on digital marketing, design, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The proposed Institute will deeply embed students at all levels, across over a dozen departments from several colleges, into interdisciplinary research and commercialization teams. The students will have authentic real-world research experiences that will enrich their education and dramatically place them in advantageous positions when considering further education or the pursuit of leadership positions in industry or government. Our near-term (~1 year) goals are to complete our strategic planning, finalize our membership roster, brand the Institute, and to build our funding network that will include New York State, Federal Agencies, and companies. Our highest impact long-term (~5 years) goal is to win an NSF Engineering Research Center or a Science and Technology Center. Our external funding award goal is $100M within five years, compared to an investment of $3M.

Funding for FPI research will come from external grants. The “Signature Area” funding from RIT will be used to transform the individual research groups into an internationally-recognized Institute. Funding is requested for an Assistant Director who will have the responsibility to liaise between the Institute research groups and industry, federal agencies, New York State, and non-profit organizations. It is our intent that this position will be the focal point for leveraging RIT’s internal investment into $100M within the first five years of Institute operations. The near-term goal for the first year will be to establish and market the vision, structure, and strategic plan for the Institute and to fill all the positions in the Institute, including the initial faculty, Assistant Director, students, and the staff.

FPI teams will leverage their activities by collaborating with business and innovation affiliates to commercialize new products. Potential markets include solar energy, biophotonics, high performance imaging, astrophysics, communication, electronics, and computing. The Institute will seek to have global impact by becoming a leading world-wide consulting service for the practical application of its technologies. As an example, the Institute will endeavor to be leading advisors to DOE, DoD, NSF, and NASA, in support of the development of their future facilities and for guiding their technology development strategic plans. Our initiative will make significant contributions to three of the areas defined in the recent RIT Strategic Plan: Digital Media and Imaging Science, Global Resilience, and Advanced Design and Manufacturing.