Albuquerque is one of the only places in the world where students can begin to study optics in high school and continue on to associate programs, undergraduate, and graduate programs all the way to a Ph.D. in Optical Science and Engineering at the University of New Mexico.

World-Class Technical Support

World-class technical support is provided locally from Sandia National Labs, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, and the New Mexico Optics Industry Association. The Directed Energy Directorate is the Department of Defense’s center of expertise for lasers, high-energy microwaves, high-power millimeter waves and advanced optics. This national resource and the talent it attracts is a catalyst for new and expanding companies.


There are many reasons why the world’s premier companies do business in Albuquerque. Here are just a few:

Research Lab


Fact: New Mexico is home to several leading federal government photonics research institutions: Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos National Labs and the Air Force Research Laboratory
Men and Woman around photonics


Fact: The University of New Mexico has over 37 faculty engaged in photonics-based research


NMOIA report published Dec 14

man in laboratory


IFIT State New Economy Index Ranks NM as 1st for Non-Industry Investment in R&D

Resources and education

  • Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)

    SNL is a federally funded research and development center contracted with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration to handle the nation’s nuclear security issues. A strong science, technology and engineering foundation enables Sandia’s mission through a capable research staff working at the forefront of innovation and collaborative research.

  • Pulsed Power Center

    is a facet of SNL’s expertise in photonics research. The Pulsed Power Center is a world leader in pulsed power science and houses some of the world’s most advanced optics equipment. This center yields technologies to create, diagnose, and model extreme radiation, high energy density environments, and inertial confinement fusion.

  • Kirtland Air Force Base

    Located next to the Albuquerque International Sunport, Kirtland Air Force Base occupies nearly 52,000 acres and employs more than 23,000 people.

  • The University of New Mexico (UNM)

    UNM offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees related to optics and photonics. The optical Science and Engineering (OSE) Program at UNM currently offers both a M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in Optical Science and Engineering. Currently there are 60 graduate students enrolled in this program.

  • Center for High Technology Materials by UNM (CHTM)

    CHTM is an interdisciplinary research organization located at UNM consisting of faculty and students representing several university departments like physics, manufacturing engineering, and nanoscience and microsystems to foster a culture of excellence in research, education, and entrepreneurship.

Programs and Incentives

  • Directed Energy Systems Gross Receipts Tax Deduction

    Contractors, other than a national laboratory, that provide qualified research and development services for directed energy and satellite-related inputs to the United States department of defense, may deduct their receipts derived from such inputs and services. This deduction only applies to contracts with the department of defense entered into on or after January 1, 2016. This credit sunsets January 1, 2031.

  • Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP)

    The state’s highly flexible JTIP program offers a cash reimbursement to a business for on-the-job training for qualified employees of qualified employers. Customized training may be provided by post-secondary educational institutions, company trainers, or outside trainers.

  • High Wage Jobs Tax Credit 

    A taxpayer who is an eligible employer may apply for and receive a tax credit for each new high-wage economic-base job. The credit amount equals 8.5% of the wages paid for each new economic-base job created.

  • Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit

    New Mexico tax law provides for a credit equal to 5.125 %of the value of qualified equipment and other property used directly and exclusively in a manufacturing operation. The credit can be applied against compensating, gross receipts tax or withholding tax due.

  • Gross Receipts Tax Deduction on Consumables Used in the Manufacturing Process

    A manufacturer may deduct a percentage of the gross receipts tax paid on consumables used in the manufacturing process. “Consumable” means tangible personal property that is incorporated into, destroyed, depleted, or transformed in the process of manufacturing a product and includes electricity, fuel, water, supplies, chemicals, gases, repair, and spare parts, but does not include tools or equipment used to create the product.

  • Single Sales Factor Tax Apportionment for Manufacturers

    Businesses engaged in manufacturing may elect a single sales factor option for calculating their corporate income tax. This election must be made in writing and must remain in effect for at least three consecutive taxable years containing thirty-six calendar months.

  • Technology Jobs and Research and Development Tax Credit

    Qualified New Mexico facilities may take a credit equal to 5% (10% in rural areas) of expenditures related to qualified research for payroll, land, buildings, equipment, computer software and upgrades, consultants and contractors performing work in New Mexico, technical books, manuals and test materials. The credit may be taken against compensating tax, gross receipts tax (excluding the local options portion of the gross receipts tax), and withholding tax. The credit may be carried forward for up to three years.

    An additional 5%(10% total urban, 20% total rural) may be applied against corporate income tax or personal income tax if base payroll expenses increase by at least $75,000 per $1,000,000 of expenditures claimed. The additional credit may be carried forward for up to three years.

    Credits are not available for:

    • Investments in real property owned by the city of the county in conjunction with an Industrial Revenue Bond
    • Investments in personal property that have been given a credit under the Investment Credit Act
    • National Laboratories
    • Property owned by the tax payer or an affiliate prior to July 3, 2000
    • Contract research & development

Key Companies

Directed energy, optics and photonics companies investing and growing in the Albuquerque metro area include:

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