Stephen R. Forrest


In 1994, six U.S. government agencies requested the Japanese Technology Evaluation Center (JTEC) to assess the current state of optoelectronics research, development, and manufacturing in Japan compared to that in the United States, because of the vital contributions optoelectronics technologies make to the military and the economic capabilities of the nation. The agencies requesting this study were the National Science Foundation, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Commerce, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Energy, and the Department of State. As set forth by these sponsors, the particular goal of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of U.S. and Japanese government, industry, and academia in gaining a competitive edge in the many facets of optoelectronics. This broad objective involved determining the mechanisms used by both countries to identify new and promising technologies at an early stage in the laboratory and then to effectively and rapidly move those technologies from the research environment through the development stage and finally into profitable manufacture.

This study was not intended to comprehensively encompass all facets of optoelectronics, but rather to focus on those areas thought to be most economically strategic to both the United States and Japan. Five optoelectronics fields are of specific interest to this study:

  1. Optoelectronic systems, with emphasis on telecommunications, local area networks, and optical interconnections
  2. Optical storage technology, including optical memories and consumer compact disc technology
  3. Waveguide devices and optoelectronic packaging technology
  4. Photonic devices and materials, with emphasis on laser and optoelectronic integrated circuit technology, including both surface-emitting and edge-emitting lasers, as well as devices for use in telecommunications, sensors, and consumer products
  5. Optical sensor technology, including specialty fibers

This report also examines economic factors that determine the relative success of the U.S. and Japanese optoelectronics industries in moving concepts from the laboratory into profitable enterprises.

Published: February 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian