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University of Arizona gets grant for next-gen Internet communication

This July 2, 2015 photo provided by IBM shows a 7 nanometer chip produced at SUNY Poly Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in Albany, NY. IBM says it has achieved a breakthrough in shrinking computer chips, creating a test version of the world’s first semiconductor that shrinks down the circuitry by overcoming what’s been “one of the grand challenges” of the industry. (Darryl Bautista/Feature Photo Service for IBM via AP)

PHOENIX –The University of Arizona will get help to stay on the cutting edge after receiving a federal grant to study next-generation Internet technology, the school said.

The school received a portion of a $110 million grant to study photonic circuits, the next generation of circuitry.

“Instead of transistors, they have little lasers and optics on them that are miniaturized,” UA’s College of Optical Sciences Dean Tom Koch said.

The laser technology is much faster than transistors, meaning online communication could become even more immediate. It is also smaller, uses less power and could result in further innovation. Koch said the entire planet is catching on to the new industrial science.

“Now is the right time to the invest because the whole world is recognizing how powerful it is,” he said. “If the U.S. doesn’t really hunker down and mobilize around this, we’re going to miss the window.”

Koch said the new technology will create jobs. Several agencies — the Departments of Defense, Commerce and Energy along with NASA and the National Science Foundation — will work with UA on the photonics. The Arizona Commerce Authority is offering $2.5 million in tax incentives to businesses that support the research.

KTAR’s John Roller contributed to this report.

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