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Dawn Levy, News Service (650) 725-1944; e-mail:

The Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics at Stanford

Stanford will complete the $60 million Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics as part of its plan to become a world leader in photonics research and teaching. The $25 million Fitzpatrick gift will fund initial construction, with remaining funds to be raised from individuals and companies. The new building is expected to be completed and functional by summer of 2004.

"Many departments in the School of Engineering and in the basic sciences at Stanford are making significant commitments to new research and teaching in photonics," said Jim Plummer, the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the School of Engineering and the John M. Fluke Professor of Electrical Engineering. "This new institute will provide a magnificent centerpiece for those activities and will put Stanford in a leadership position in photonics."

The Electrical Engineering Department had been considering new directions for some time, and photonics offered the most promise, Plummer said. Because of faculty retirements and reallocation of billets, the department and School of Engineering will be able to mount a major photonics effort.

The state-of-the-art building will replace the outdated Ginzton Lab building and will house shared equipment, research facilities and teaching laboratories. "A key strength of the Ginzton Lab has always been its interdisciplinary nature, connecting basic science and engineering applications in one continuous intellectual spectrum," said David A.B. Miller, the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering. The new center will expand on this interdisciplinary principle while retaining a strong foundation of basic science.

The 120,000-square-foot building will accommodate 16 to 20 faculty, 120 doctoral students and 50 other postdoctoral scholars, research engineers, visiting staff from affiliated companies and visiting scholars. These researchers will represent almost 10 percent of the School of Engineering's approximately 200 faculty members.

This year Stanford added two optics and photonics courses to its menu of about 20, and plans to add at least six more. The courses train master's and doctoral students, focus attention on networking and wired and wireless communications, and bolster core courses in quantum mechanics, solid state physics and basic optics. Engineering professors also plan to completely revise their quantum mechanics curriculum.

Interaction with the growing photonics industry will guide the research agenda of the center. Stanford already has many successful industrial affiliates programs, including that of the Center for Novel Optoelectronic Materials (CNOM), directed by Applied Physics Professors Robert Byer and Martin Fejer and Miller. Stanford will build on CNOM to create a broader photonics affiliates program in the coming year. This program will provide representatives from numerous aspects of the industry with a forum for frequent interaction with students and faculty, and exposure to current university research. In turn, university researchers will gain an expanded understanding of industry needs and trends.

With the new institute, Stanford will house three centers engaged in aspects of optical and electronic information: The Center for Integrated Systems (CIS) and the Stanford Networking Research Center (SNRC) complete the research triangle. The centers span the spectrum from atoms to software, but their scopes will have only limited overlap, Miller said: "There's a very large intellectual breadth from the physics behind devices through device technologies themselves to large systems and the software and protocols that run networks. You can't encapsulate that all in one center, though a small overlap is desirable to encourage constructive interaction and even joint programs between the centers where that makes most sense."

Said Plummer: "Together, the three centers will poise Stanford to take a leadership position in the technologies, systems and software that will drive information technology in the 21st century."


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