National Laboratories

The Boulder area is home to four U.S. national laboratories:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - environmental research
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - atomic clocks and precision optical metrology
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - renewable energy
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

All have close ties with the University of Colorado, and three have joint research centers that include optics as a significant research activity:

  • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)
  • JILA - Research in the Physical Sciences
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI)

The University of Colorado also has substantial collaborative efforts with Sandia National Laboratories, an hour flight away. Prestigious Sandia fellowships support the research of top graduate students.

Photonics Industry and Innovation in Colorado

Colorado is home to more than 300 photonics companies, mostly in the Boulder area, including Ball Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, IBM and many University of Colorado startup companies. The active commercial photonics sector is connected to academia and the national laboratories through the Colorado Photonics Industry Association (CPIA).

Nobel Prizes in Optical Sciences

The University of Colorado Boulder and JILA institute are the proud home of four recent Nobel Prize winners for optics-related research: Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman (2001), John L. Hall (2005) and David Wineland (2012).