NRC proposal for optoelectronics prototyping facility folded into eMPOWR campaign

Guest Contributor
September 15, 2000

The eMPOWR Canada bid to secure funding for research and training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) in the information and communications technologies (ICT) disciplines has incorporated the National Research Council's (NRC) two-year old proposal for a photonics and optoelectronics prototyping facility. As one the NRC's two strategic initiatives that remain unfunded, the decision to combine forces with the eMPOWR initiative (formerly called the National Information Technology Initiative), was made last June and is still being fine tuned as the campaign gathers steam.

The proposal for $45 million over five years to establish the prototyping facility - now called the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC) - has been repositioned to emphasize its potential for training HQP.

Its original focus of providing critical support to business remains an integral part of the strategy, however, and the new pitch still has the full support of the Canadian Microelectronics Corp (CMC). Initial capital of $26.5 million would be required to construct the facility, with the remainder allocated towards wages, scholarships, operations and ongoing capital needs.

"It's basically the same facility although we've tried to address the HQP component," says Dr. Sylvain Charbonneau, director of components Technologies at the NRC's Institute for Microstructural Sciences. "In five or 10 years, with the revolution of optical fibre communications, optoelectronics will become as important as microelectronics."

As an adjunct to the eMPOWR proposal, the CPFC will offer a variety of training opportunities. In collaboration with the CMC, it would provide remote training by allowing university students to submit designs for fabrication and then have them returned for further study.

The Centre will also offer on-site training and pay the salaries of the trainees while they are gaining expertise on the development of photonic components and prototypes. Initially, the Centre will offer three programs - internships, graduate student and technical officer training, and a summer camp where students will learn about photonics device fabrication.


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