Email Print Share


Photo of Dr. France A. Córdova

Photo by NSF/
Stephen Voss

Dr. France A. Córdova
National Science Foundation


"Light for a Better World: a Celebration of U.S. Innovation"
Before the
2015 International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies Celebration
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, D.C.

September 12, 2015

On behalf of the National Science Foundation, it is a great pleasure to welcome everyone to the National Academy of Sciences for this celebration of the International Year of Light. Thank you for joining us for this important event.

Earlier this year, I had the honor of participating in the launch of the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

It is inspiring to see this global initiative continuing to raise awareness among the peoples of the world about the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society.

This celebration today offers a unique opportunity to inspire, educate, and connect people and institutions on a national scale, and I would like to especially thank SPIE, the Optical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and of course the National Academy of Sciences for helping make these events possible.

Many of you and your families had a chance earlier today to experience the Wonders of Light: Family Fun Activities at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall.

Let me thank my good friend, Kevin Gover, Director of the Museum, for making that venue available for the array of hands-on-optics educational exhibits.

And, of course, I want to thank the many students and volunteers from a variety of organizations for their generous time and efforts in making the afternoon such a success.

Also, I understand that the 'Radiance Orb' you are enjoying this evening will make an appearance tomorrow at a special event of 'Art and Light' just across the Potomac at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

The innate desire for discovery lies at the heart of the National Science Foundation. For more than six decades, we have enabled scientists and engineers to unlock the secrets of nature by investing in fundamental research across all fields of fundamental science and engineering.

This research has been essential to America's success by strengthening our national security, enhancing economic growth, and improving our innovation and competitiveness in the global marketplace. NSF is proud to be one of the world's leading funders of research into all aspects of light, in its many manifestations, across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

One prominent example of NSF's leadership is our recently announced agency-wide Optics and Photonics program that involves multiple Divisions within our Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Directorate for Engineering, Directorate for Biological Sciences, and Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

The program aims to move beyond the present science and technology base in optics and photonics and lay the groundwork for major advances in scientific understanding and creation of high-impact technologies for the next decade and beyond.

The Optics and Photonics program is designed to address the critical national need to enhance the support of fundamental and translational research in optics and photonics.

This new Optics and Photonics program follows an extensive new optics and photonics roadmap NSF released in 2013 that outlined the many avenues of research we're pursuing.

Among the areas covered by the optics and photonics roadmap are integration of photonics with electronics; bio-photonics--the intersection of photonics with biology, health care and medicine; the quantum realm in science and engineering; and manufacturing innovations enabled by light technologies.

In all of these topics, there is an emphasis on education and outreach programs designed to advance technology education at all levels in order to nurture a science and engineering workforce capable of successfully performing in an international research environment.

Now, having made my case on behalf of the National Science Foundation, it is time to hear from our outstanding speakers, four world-recognized leaders in the field of optics and photonics who are transforming our world through the science of light.

We're honored to have two Nobel Laureates with us tonight: Dr. Shuji Nakamura, 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physics, and Dr. Eric Betzig, 2014 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. We're also fortunate to have Gerald Duffy, from GE Lighting, to explain recent changes to Solid State Lighting, and Michael Liehr, CEO of the newly announced American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics--or AIM Photonics--who will speak on the merger of nanophotonics and electronics.

Let me add parenthetically that, as Vice President Joe Biden recently noted, AIM Photonics is a collaborative public/private administrative priority for the country, involving substantial five-year investments by the Department of Defense--and other Federal agencies including the National Science Foundation--as well as significant funding by private and State sectors.

Now, I'm pleased to turn the podium back to our MC, Bob Schafrik.

For other remarks by Dr. Có on the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, please see