Focus Areas

Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring

On 12 December 2015, in Paris, 195 countries, including the nations in the European Union, China, India, Brazil and the United States, adopted the first-ever universal action plan to put the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels. The Paris Agreement sends a clear economic signal for the global marketplace to invest in clean energy and advanced and reliable climate monitoring. And, although U.S. President Donald Trump has subsequently declared that the United States would withdraw from the Paris accord, the global response to that decision has tended to underscore the continued commitment of the rest of the signatories, and the fundamentally international character of issues related to climate and the environment.


As countries have signed onto the Paris Agreement and committed to specific emission reduction goals, attention has shifted toward how those goals will be met—and how progress will be measured. Precise and comprehensive sensing technologies are needed for countries to make more informed policy and economic decisions. Advancing technologies that strengthen and support global climate monitoring systems is critical to the new, low-carbon economy.

Beyond the Paris Agreement and other international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, pollutants, biohazards and industrial waste are all pressing environmental issues that require monitoring and measuring technologies. To meet these specific technological and scientific challenges, The Optical Society (OSA) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) are jointly sponsoring the Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring (GEMM) Initiative, engaging universities, research centers, measurement standards agencies, companies, and other scientific societies around the world to form GEMM regional centers and provide a critical focal point for researchers, technology developers and policy makers. The GEMM website is under development.


Quantum Technologies

 As one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, quantum theory led to the development of some of today’s most widely-used and lucrative technologies. Recent discoveries in the new area of quantum information science has inspired a global quantum revolution as countries realize the potential to translate such discoveries into valuable, real-world technologies including improved security and privacy in the digital communications systems that connect our world; enhanced navigation in demanding environments; advanced sensors for geological resource exploration; and superior computational capabilities for complex simulations and modeling of new pharmaceutical drugs and solar-energy-harvesting materials. And we are just scratching the surface; quantum information science will yield some of the deepest insights into the fundamental workings of the universe.
Advances in quantum science and improvements in our engineering capability have now reached a stage whereby commercialization of new quantum technologies is not only possible, but an opportunity that we should not ignore. Recognizing the potential of quantum science and technology, governments in Europe and Asia are committing billions of dollars to major research and development (R&D) initiatives for technological, scientific and economic benefits. R&D in optical science continues to develop new enabling technologies for a wide range of basic studies and applications in quantum science. IPAC will work to integrate optical sciences and technologies into global quantum science and technology initiatives in an effort to advance this new area more efficiently and productively.