Nortel Networks Named ‘Founding Partner’ in Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics at Duke University

April 17, 2001

DURHAM, N.C. - Nortel Networks has been named a "founding partner" in the Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communication Systems at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, opening an industry alliance aimed at boosting the center's research into the burgeoning technology that melds light with electronics.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Pratt School Dean Kristina Johnson during a "Photonics in the Forest" symposium at the university on leading-edge photonics technology.

As part of its agreement with Duke, Nortel will contribute $2.75 million to the Pratt School over the next six years, including $1.5 million to create an endowment fund to support a new professorship at the Pratt School, and $1.25 million to support research at the Fitzpatrick Center.

"Nortel Networks' $2.75 million commitment to join the Fitzpatrick Center as a founding partner is a significant statement by one of the world's leading technology companies about the important role the center will play in advancing photonics research and training future generations of photonics engineers," said Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane. "One of the principal goals of the Fitzpatrick Center is to partner with high-tech industry leaders to ensure that North Carolina is at the forefront of new technology research and development."

As a founding participant in the industry research program, Nortel Networks will be actively involved in setting the strategic direction of the center and supporting faculty and student research. It also will have membership on the center's advisory board, will participate as a technology mentor in research focused on specific applications, and will participate in symposia of the type that was held at the university Tuesday.

"We are thrilled to have Nortel Networks as a founding partner -- its presence is huge in establishing Duke's leadership in optical network research and applications," Johnson said. "We look forward to working very closely with Nortel Networks to build a laboratory within the Fitzpatrick Center that will allow Nortel Networks and Duke researchers to collaborate on cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research."

"Nortel Networks is driving the high-performance optical Internet - continent-to-continent, city-to-city, from the core-to-the-customer - to deliver rich content, new capabilities and unparalleled services and opportunities for businesses and consumers worldwide," said Brian McFadden, president, Photonic Networks, Nortel Networks, which has long been a mainstay in Research Triangle Park. "Photonics will be a crucial component in the optical Internet backbone, its extension into metro areas, next-generation wireless networks and other core Internet protocol (IP) technologies."

The Duke center is named for high-tech entrepreneur Michael J. Fitzpatrick and his wife, Patricia, who last December announced donations of $50 million split between Duke and Stanford universities to make both schools international leaders in advanced photonics.

When the center was announced, Michael Fitzpatrick said he and his wife wanted to help create the world's finest centers for photonics at Duke and Stanford," and we hope the centers will coalesce universities, industry and government to enable the full attainment of the potential of optics."

Current plans call for the Fitzpatrick center to be completed in late 2003. It will be home to at least 21 research and visiting faculty, 33 postdoctoral fellows and 22 staff, as well as up to 138 graduate and 40 undergraduate students. Its laboratories will concentrate on research in

  • light-wave communication systems and components;
  • receivers and sensor signal processing networks;
  • displays and visualization; and
  • biophotonic sensors and sources.