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What is Photonics? and is it even relevant?

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An explanation outlining the importance and relevance of photonics in today's society.

‘Photonics is the science of light. It is the technology of generating, controlling, and detecting light waves and photons, which are particles of light.’

Photonics is one of the fastest growing high-tech industries today.  The application of photonics spreads across various industries including:

  • Medical

  • Lighting

  • Defence and security

  • Manufacturing

  • Communications

  • Sensors

  • Lighting and displays

  • Astronomy

  • Imagery 


Photonics has benefited the population as it has revolutionised the healthcare industry as a whole.  In the healthcare industry, photonics has helped detect the existence of diseases at very early stages.  It has also made it possible to develop synthetic bones and create devices such as pacemakers, endoscopes and micro-cameras. Bio photonics, which is the use of light technologies within the medical industry, has made it possible to have a greater understanding of the origins and preventions of diseases and has lead to the development of new treatments.


Photonics is also used in Solid State Lighting (SSL) and general lighting applications.  SSL lighting contributes to energy savings and provides a higher lighting quality. E.g.  Replacing incandescent bulbs with Solid State Lighting would save up to 70% of the energy used in everyday lighting.


Photonics enhances the safety of people, goods and the environment due to contactless sensors given the ability to identify potential hazards and dangerous situations as they are capable to perform measurements under harsh conditions and offer extreme sensitivity. Examples of photonics technologies within the defense and security sector include surveillance, fingerprint matching, night vision, airport screening.


Lasers have become necessities during the process of high-volume and precision manufacturing.  New and up to date lasers have allowed for mass customisation, therefore increasing resource efficiency and leading to a zero-fault production process. Europe is the leading continent for industrial laser technologies such as, semiconductors, miniature components for medical technology, breath analyzers, tattoo removal and DVD’s. 


Photonics play a major role in the sector of communications as lasers work as a light source in all fibre optics use. The method of fibre-optic communication is the process of transferring information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fibre.  The light then forms an electromagnetic carrier which is used to transmit the data and information. Fibre-optics has revolutionized the telecommunicatons industry and have played a major role in the emergent of the information age.   Optical fibre is mainly used by telecommunication companies to transmit internet communications, TV signal and phone signals.



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