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Optical Materials/Photonics

Center of Economic Excellence



Award Amount

$5 million

External Funding Above Match

$24.9 million

Research Focus

Conduct optical and phtonic materials research, particularly as it relates to advanced optical fibers and fiber-based devices, and recruit and mentor graduate students with a focus on domestic scholars. Identify and foster the latest technologies and initiate partnerships with top national research universities and laboratories, aid South Carolina industry and economic development partners in the transfer of technology from Clemson to the public sector, and participate in the recruitment of optical technology firms to South Carolina.

University Partner

Clemson University

Private Sector Partner

J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation

This Center, part of Clemson University’s Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET), focuses on the design, fabrication, and testing of optical fibers for use in:

  • Directed energy systems critical to federal defense efforts
  • Communication systems for automobiles and information technologies
  • Light-based biomedical therapies

Two consortia have been created to advance the development of new optical materials, devices, and components in support of the existing photonics industry as well as the creation of new ventures in the Carolinas. The Carolina MicroOptics Triangle (CMOT) is a regional optics cluster among Clemson, the University of North Carolina Charlotte and Western Carolina University. CMOT is recognized as one of only four university photonics clusters in the nation. In 2008, Clemson partnered with Duke University and North Carolina State University to establish the Carolinas Photonics Consortium.

The Center has launched two start-up companies: Advanced Photonic Crystals and
Tetramer Technologies. In 2009, Gulf Fiber Optics relocated a subsidiary division, its research unit, and four employee positions to Anderson to be near this Center’s work. That same year, research partnerships were formed with defense contractors Raytheon and Northrop Grunman.

This Center has received major funding from the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation.
COMSET provides a centralized infrastructure for faculty collaborating to develop advanced materials that exhibit a value-added interaction with light. COMSET operates the premier academic optical fiber fabrication laboratory in the United States.

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