Mexico Launches Photonics Initiative

Mexico aims to become the Latin American leader of the optics and photonics industry.

01 January 2017
Mexican Flag

The first study of the optics and photonics sector in Mexico calls for coordinated and strategic actions and investments among government, academia, and industry to make Mexico the Latin American leader of the optics and photonics industry.

Titled Towards a Brighter Mexico: A Technology Roadmap for Optics and Photonics, the report released in November will serve as the basis for a Mexican Photonics Initiative (MPI) to enhance Mexico’s economic competitiveness.

The roadmap recommends accelerated development of a photonics ecosystem, including the creation of a Mexican Photonics Cluster to work toward helping optics and photonics startups and establishing a petawatt laser research facility, a photonics manufacturing institute, and other infrastructure for advancement of the technology.

The MPI report was produced by ProMéxico, the Mexican government’s economic development agency; the International Commission for Optics (ICO) through its Mexico Territorial Committee for Optics; and the Mexican Academy of Optics (AMO).

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs wrote a foreword for the report, noting that exploiting the role of optics and photonics as an enabling technology is crucial to future economic competitiveness. SPIE was an early supporter of a comprehensive 1998 study of the US photonics industry. An update of that original study was completed in 2012 and served as a catalyst for the US National Photonics Initiative.

Similar studies of the impact of optics and photonics have been produced by nations such as Germany, the UK, and Canada. In 2010, the European Union identified photonics as one of only five key enabling technologies crucial to future economic competitiveness.

“It is timely and vital that Mexico review its capability in optics and photonics and plan to ensure it is well prepared to support an industrial future where photonics will determine competitiveness,” Arthurs said in the foreword to the Mexican roadmap document.

The MPI roadmap recommends four focus areas and lays out a timeline for building strength in those areas.

Among the four areas, two are focused on developing optics and photonics technologies for renewable and efficient energy, particularly for LED lighting in urban environments and increased production of photovoltaic cells.

The report also calls on representatives of industry, academia, and government to collaborate on projects involving fiber optics for telecommunications and advanced photonic component manufacturing programs such as those developing and/or using microscopic photonic sensors and ultrafast lasers.

photo of Eric RosasSPIE Senior Member Eric Rosas, chief intellectual property officer at Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica (Mexico) and an ICO vice president, served as the MPI chairman and led the work on the roadmap.

The Mexican Photonics Initiative “intends to position optics and photonics as priority technologies for Mexico,” Rosas said, with an innovation-oriented ecosystem for industries such as telecommunications, energy, health, medicine, and advanced manufacturing.

The report is available in Spanish.

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