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Over the past 50 years advances in our ability to engineer materials on the molecular scale have fostered the development of many of today's information-age technologies. Among these is photonics; the branch of optical science relating to a broad range of applications of light including in information systems. Beginning in the 1970s, laser photonics emerged to spawn many important new applications, including enabling power-efficient, greatly expanded capacity and speed in transporting information. Over the ensuing decades, these applications have matured, fostering significant advances in information age technologies; not only for transporting information between people and systems, but also in routing and switching within computing and data storage systems. Today photonics research continues this trend, advancing the convergence of the two key 21st century information age technologies: communication and computing. This paper highlights some of the key semiconductor material science and molecular engineering advances that have contributed to these developments.