Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College have received a $4 million grant to start an integrated photonics laboratory together, college and state officials announced Thursday. The award, issued by the state through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, will cover the purchase of high-tech equipment needed for the colleges’ joint programming in photonics – the emerging field of generating and harnessing light for use in technology.

WPI, in collaboration with Quinsigamond Community College, is in the process of developing an AIM Photonics Academy Lab for Education & Application Prototypes (LEAP). The lab will support the development of the integrated photonics manufacturing sector in Central Massachusetts. The university recently received $4 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to develop this center.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College announced Thursday they'll start a new photonics lab thanks to a $4-million Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative grant. The lab is expected to better help students at both schools and researchers in a scientific field making advancements in endoscopy and prosthetics, as well as in manufacturing.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College will use a $4 million state grant to open a joint photonics lab. The lab will support a burgeoning industry in the Northeast, according to a WPI release sent today. It will be called the AIM Photonics Academy Lab, and the funding was announced today by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Photonics is the science of light generation, and it’s used in many of the advanced manufacturing facilities in the area.

MIT’s AIM Photonics Academy helped organize a gathering of more than 60 people at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, earlier this month to explore opportunities in integrated photonics, and discuss possibilities for a large investment to create a Lab for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP) in integrated photonics there.

IEEE Photonics Society News featured AIM Summer Academy on page 18 of its December 2017 newsletter.

AIM Photonics Academy, an initiative of the AIM Photonics Institute (a Manufacturing USA program dedicated to developing new high tech industries), launched its inaugural Summer Academy school on July 24–28, 2017 at MIT. AIM Summer Academy is a one-week intensive school that introduces participants to the fundamentals of integrated photonics, a maturing optics technology born of the prior century’s fiber optic communications revolution. Integrated photonics leverages the materials processing innovations of the semiconductor industry to create novel light-manipulating devices for applications in datacom, RF signal processing, sensing, and imaging.


About 60 people gathered at Tuesday’s event in Donahue Hall, from educators to Massachusetts industry leaders. All were itching to hear of a potential future in photonics – widely regarded as the next big technological revolution.  Dr. Lionel Kimerling, an executive with MIT’s AIM Photonics Academy, said Tuesday he sees an entirely new world based on integrated photonics.  The greater Boston area (or the I-90 corridor) could be “the Silicon Valley for the next technology,” involving photonics, he said.

MIT Professor Duane Boning gave an overview of the current state of silicon photonics and why he believes it is time for the electrical engineering community to learn about this important technology. In Professor Boning’s presentation, he made the claim that silicon photonics has become “interesting, convergent and designable." 

We tend to think of autonomous vehicles largely in terms of their technical challenges. But in a talk at the Frontiers in Optics meeting in Washington, D.C., Ira Moskowitz, the director of advanced-manufacturing programs with the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, USA, focused on another, less-well-known side of the challenge.