Cliff Chan, Co-Founder and CEO of OAM Photonics, LLC, a New Mexico Lab-Embedded Entrepreneur Program (NM LEEP) company has been awarded a National Science Foundation SBIR Phase II grant for $1 million. Courtesy/NM LEEP


LEEP News:

OAM Photonics, LLC, a New Mexico Lab-Embedded Entrepreneur Program (NM LEEP) company, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant for $1 million.

OAM Photonics is a startup aimed at transforming the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) industry through photonic sensing solutions for 3D imaging. LiDAR is a remote sensing method that uses light to measure distances and is commonly used to enable technologies like self-driving or autonomous vehicles, as well as for applications in drones and robotics.

“Achieving this SBIR Phase II is a milestone for us, as it helps us get closer to our vision to build novel, smarter and less expensive optical sensors enabled by electronic-photonic integrated circuit (EPIC) technology,” Cliff Chan said, Co-Founder and CEO of OAM Photonics, LLC.

The two-year grant will be used by OAM Photonics to create a prototype of the complete LiDAR system in a commercial foundry. Currently, Chan is utilizing the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) at Sandia National Laboratories for prototyping as a Fellow with New Mexico LEEP.

“Access to CINT has helped us to explore new designs quickly,” added Chan. “It also enables us to try fabrication process steps that are not offered at commercial foundries with their standard multi-wafer project runs.”

In 2020, OAM Photonics was awarded an SBIR Phase I grant from NSF for $225,000 that was used to develop a proof of concept, design and simulation. Of the hundreds that apply for SBIR funding, only about 15 percent are awarded.

Chan is also one of 20 entrepreneurs around the country who recently presented at the LEEP Demo Day 2023 in early June in Chicago, hosted by Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI).


About the NSF’s Small Business Programs

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $9.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit


About New Mexico LEEP

The New Mexico Lab-Embedded Entrepreneur Program (New Mexico LEEP) is a unique collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation that provides a two-year program for entrepreneurs focusing on deep tech for national security. Selected annually through a spring application call, the program enables innovators to work on their technology full-time, de-risking their technologies with the help of leading experts and facilities from the Lab. Each cohort works to build their innovations into market-ready businesses. Visit for more information.