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Boost for photonics – Optical world on tap

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Duke and Stanford will establish centers for advanced photonics, thanks to $25 million gifts to each university from high-tech entrepreneur Michael J. Fitzpatrick and his wife, Patty.

“We’re moving from an electronic world to an optical world,” said Fitzpatrick, former chairman, CEO and president of E-TEK Dynamics, a maker of fiber-optic components, instruments and systems for the telecom and cable TV industries.

Photonics, a technology that combines light with electronics, is at a stage of development similar to that of electronics in the 1950s, engineers say.

The technology is expected to produce high-speed fiber-optic Internet communications for use in next-generation applications in education, medicine, entertainment and commerce.

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