Ben Gurion University and Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Center have been chosen by the Israeli government to establish a National Photonics and Electro-Optics Research Center which will be provided with a budget of NIS 174 million ($47 million).
Photonics is the scientific field dealing with light, specifically its generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection.
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Electro-Optics is the branch of science that deals with the effect of electric fields on light and on the optical properties of substances.
The bid for the new center was offered by The Research and Development of Armaments and Technological Infrastructure Administration in the Ministry of Defense on behalf of the Telem Forum, which includes the chief scientist’s office of the Ministry of Economics, the chief scientist’s office of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education and the Budgets Branch of the Finance Ministry. The members of the forum decided to pool their resources in order to offer a generous budget to promote advanced infrastructure for photonics.
BGU’s team will be led by Professor Gabby Sarusi of its Electro-Optics Engineering Unit who will partner with Dr. Rafi Lavi, the acting head of Soreq NRC in Yavne.
The goal is to create a center for professionals and students to conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment.
According to Dr. Lavi, cooperation between a national laboratory and academia to create the initiative, in addition to support from industry and government ministries, is a pioneering effort in Israel which has been successfully implemented around the world and is liable to become a much sought after model.
Profesor Sarusi explains: “When the Photonic Center is established, it will be the northern branch of BGU in Yavne, where its focus will be on photonic and electro-optic research. The overall budget will be NIS 175 million over five years to purchase and operate advanced equipment. The state-of-the-art equipment and the high caliber researchers will enable this center to reach the apex of scientific and technological achievement in this field.”
The Center will be the flagship project of BGU’s efforts to mark 2015 as the International Year of Light as per the designation of UNESCO. From January to June, BGU will host a series of events for the public and for professionals and experts in the field.