The Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) was established in the spring of 1986 as an Interdisciplinary center for excellence in research. Research was performed on a contractual or grant basis with federal, state, and private agencies, but during 1991 the scope of CREOL increased due to large amounts of funding from the Federal Government. This allowed for new projects such as the Free-Electron laser (FEL) and the DARPA-Funded crystal growth research to emerge. Before the current building was built CREOL was located in a 49,000 square-foot rented facility in the Central Florida Research Park. The University found this area to be inadequate in space, temperature, and humidity control. Therefore, during the spring of 1991 a new building was proposed to better accommodate CREOL and construction began three years later in 1994.
Currently, the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers building is located on the eastern end of campus near the College of Engineering and Business Administration Building I. In January 1991, this building had a proposal of 80,000 square feet and projected costs of $7.4 million. However, by its grand opening in April of 1996, the square feet increased to 84,000 and the projected cost increased to $9.7 million. According to a 1996 article from the Central Florida Future, technologies new to CREOL included an X-ray that can image living biological specimens at the sub-cellular level, a 10 trillion watt laser, glass that darkens in less than a billionth of a second, and a semiconductor laser with anticipated capability of transmitting information 100 times faster than any available computer.
According to their website, CREOL is a world-renowned graduate college for optical science and engineering education and research. This college leads to graduate programs at the Ph.D. level in Optics with specialization in Photonics for BSEE degrees. Within the college there are 3 research centers: Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, Florida Photonics Center of Excellence, and the Townes Laser Institute.