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MIT, Nanovation to partner on research into light-based technologies that will revolutionize communications

Nanovation to provide $90 million for MIT center and 6-year research program
MIT Provost Robert A. Brown (left), Nanovation President and CEO G. Robert Tatum (center) and MIT President Charles M. Vest discuss plans after signing the MIT-Nanovation photonics research agreement in President Vest's office.
MIT Provost Robert A. Brown (left), Nanovation President and CEO G. Robert Tatum (center) and MIT President Charles M. Vest discuss plans after signing the MIT-Nanovation photonics research agreement in President Vest's office.
Photo / Donna Coveney

Note to Editors: This photo is available via the AP photo wire (BW2, 1/21/200) and is also downloadable from Business Wire.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Nanovation Technologies Inc. today announced plans to establish a world-class center dedicated to the research and prototyping of photonic technologies, a 21st-century field that will make communications hundreds of times faster.

Nanovation will provide $90 million over six years to fund interdisciplinary MIT research and the establishment and operation of a cutting-edge research facility, to be located on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass. Nanovation will sponsor research on photonic, microphotonic and nanophotonic devices, circuits and systems, and other photonics-related technologies for telecommunications, data communications and computing applications.

Photonic or light-based technologies enhance the speed, capacity and bandwidth of telecommunications, data transmission and computing products. Examples of research areas to be undertaken at the Nanovation-sponsored center for photonic research include optical networking devices, systems and methods, such as optical amplifiers, array transmitters and receivers and photonic band gap materials. Future developments in photonics are expected to expand bandwidth and carry hundreds of times more information via devices that are hundreds to thousands of times smaller than current technology.


"Microphotonics is the next revolutionary technology," said Professor Lionel C. Kimerling, director of the MIT Materials Processing Center (MPC), who will direct the new center. "The field of photonic research has emerged from unprecedented demands for more bandwidth created by communications applications such as the Internet, and for faster speeds for silicon chips. Light-based technologies are the logical, cost-effective way to meet these demands. By sharing resources and ideas, MIT will be able to conduct basic research and rapidly complete pre-commercial prototyping of photonic technologies."

G. Robert Tatum, Nanovation's president and CEO, said, "Nanovation's relationship with MIT is part of our strategy to form partnerships with the nation's best universities to expand research that will allow the telecommunication industry to develop and commercialize new photonic technologies." Noting that the ultimate goal of this effort is the development of photonic technology as it relates to telecommunications, he said that Nanovation "intends to help build the finest photonics center in the world on MIT's campus."

MIT Provost Robert A. Brown added, "This research center is an example of the emerging partnerships between industry and universities that will drive much of American innovation in the post-Cold War world. This alliance greatly strengthens MIT's research-based teaching of undergraduates and graduate students and MIT's traditional commitment to be useful to society and industry. Ten million dollars of the total Nanovation commitment will go to endow professorships in the field, and our faculty and students will have a state-of-the-art facility where we can do leading-edge research."

Dr. Kimerling said, "This most exciting research frontier has produced a new class of small-scale optical media using photonic crystal design principles. The large-scale integration of optical filters and switches will foster a new growth industry in bandwidth to the personal information appliance. Bandwidth represents the size of the pipe that conducts information to the user. Today, fiber optics has sparked impressive growth in the long-distance carrying capacity of so-called Wide Area Networks, but local distribution is constrained by electronics and wires.

"The challenge of the next generation is to build high-capacity tributaries of photonic information streams to neighborhoods and individuals. Our research team of 15 professors from five departments at MIT has already demonstrated an impressive array of low-cost microphotonic components for separating channels of light by their color (wavelength division multiplexing) and for switching (cross-connecting) among different optical streams."

Mr. Tatum of Nanovation and Professor of Physics David Litster, MIT Vice President and Dean for Research, will oversee the research collaboration. An initiative of the MPC, the new research center will bring together faculty and students from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Physics as well as researchers from Nanovation.

Under MIT's standard collaboration agreement, MIT will be free to publish the research results. The straightforward intellectual property arrangement provides for joint ownership of patentable inventions and improvements created jointly by MIT and Nanovation personnel, or by Nanovation personnel making significant use of MIT facilities. Intellectual property developed solely by MIT personnel will be owned by MIT. Nanovation, in turn, will own intellectual property developed solely by Nanovation personnel who have not made significant use of MIT facilities. The company has the right to a nonexclusive royalty-free license or an exclusive royalty-bearing license, limited to the MIT research that they have sponsored.

About Nanovation Technologies Inc.

Nanovation Technologies is a high-tech company that designs and develops integrated optical devices based on its patented microcavity lasers and resonators for the growing fiber communications market. Nanovation will offer a full line of products that will include optical cross-connect switches, add/drop switches and wave division multiplexers. In addition, Nanovation will develop and deliver advanced photonic devices with the ability to integrate laser sources and optical switches on the same device. Nanovation initially will sell its components to telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturers, and to original equipment manufacturers that supply subsystems. Nanovation is headquartered in Miami, Fla., with facilities in Evanston, Ill., and Burlington, Ontario.

About the MIT Microphotonics Center

The MIT Microphotonics Center was announced in the fall of 1998 by the Materials Processing Center and commenced activity by the pooling of intellect and on-going research funds of an interdisciplinary group of faculty. The participating faculty had been working in loose collaboration across a variety of subjects ranging from components for telecommunications and computing to coatings. The driving forces for the organization were to amplify the synergy that had been realized through the multidisciplinary collaborations, and to attract industrial support for the research that the faculty wanted to do. The purpose of the Center is the creation of new materials, structures and architectures to enable the evolution of photonics from single discrete devices to integrated photonic systems.

The Materials Processing Center is an interdepartmental MIT research center founded in 1980 in response to a recognized national need to improve the productivity of basic industries and to enhance the United States' ability to compete internationally in high technology systems.

The purpose of the Materials Processing Center is to provide an environment where students and professionals from industry, government, and academia collaborate to identify and address pivotal multidisciplinary issues in materials processing and manufacturing in a way that unites the MIT Materials Community, creates new knowledge, produces knowledgeable people, and promotes exchange of knowledge.

About MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world's preeminent research universities, dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. It is known for rigorous academic programs, cutting-edge research, a diverse campus community, and its longstanding commitment to working with the public and private sectors to bring new knowledge to bear on the world's great challenges.

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