As we start 2021 let’s celebrate one of the biggest scientific accomplishments of this century, the development of a vaccine to treat and control COVID-19, a virus that almost a year ago changed our lives in many ways, and in particular the dynamics of our professional life. Achieving this remarkable success in such a short time is not fortuitous. It relied on previous scientific findings, and it involved the extreme dedication and collaborations of key players worldwide working towards a common goal.

In Photonics there are examples of large-scale, complex projects that have also required the most important players to come together for a common goal. Close to my area of expertise is “Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography” (EUV), which major developments occurred through Sematech, an international consortium formed by the main industrial players in the field. Today, EUV steppers are on the fabrication floor producing the most advanced semiconductor chips.

Another example is the complexity associated with fabricating state-of-the-art photonics devices and photonic integrated circuits that has been driven by the creation of consortia, such as the United States’ AIM Photonics offering complete integrated photonic manufacturing and metrology capabilities. National consortia are spearheading the development of photonic devices and integrated circuits on a silicon platform that are key in numerous technologies, which include sensing, imaging, and information processing.

Quantum information science is also driving large scale interdisciplinary efforts, and in this area, Photonics is playing a paramount role through the demonstration of single photon emitters, optical processors, and single photon detectors. Integration of these components into silicon or hybrid platforms will be instrumental towards the demonstration of scalable, practical integrated quantum photonic architectures.

The photonics landscape is much broader than the few examples I cite above. Nevertheless, all efforts of the photonics community share similarities in that they are driven by the interest to discover, engineer and produce the next novel device or system architecture and to transition technologies for massive production. We have learned from the discovery and production of multiple vaccines against COVID-19 that innovation, collaboration, the exchange of research findings, agility and translational research are essential to further expand the boundaries and reach of Photonics.

In all of these pursuits, the IEEE Photonics Society is providing its members and the community at large with opportunities to collaborate, share ideas, and support their professional development. You can get a glimpse of the Society’s accomplishments in 2020 also published in this issue.

With warm regards,
Carmen S. Menoni
2020–2021 IEEE Photonics President