Optics and photonics are very essential to developing new technologies that promote innovations across a wide range of applications. The open-ended scientific discoveries and application of optics and photonics, facilitates technologies such as high-tech manufacturing, high-power lasers, nuclear threat identification, and solar power essential for health & safety of individuals across the world, and offers the potential for a scalable quantum computer. Most of the current indispensable technologies, including LED lighting, digital cameras, HD TVs and smart phones, are enabled by optics and photonics. Depending upon the science of light, optics and photonics will grow continuously and enrich people’s lives. A few examples of the technologies capacitated by optics & photonics are described below:
Defense & Security
Science and engineering research is the foundation for most of the technologies deployed today in order to prevent and detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and traditional terrorist attacks. These technologies also treat victims.
Optics and photonics facilitate scientific exploration at the very small scale of sub-atomic particles as well as the scale of the cosmos. Large lasers blast targets with enormous energy to study the physics of subatomic particles and forces. Most of what we have witnessed in the universe is known only via optics.
Laser-based machine tools are used everywhere from cars and pipelines to semiconductor chips in cell phones. This field will continue to progress, with higher-power and shorter-pulse lasers, and better reasoning of new materials, including the application of new soft X-ray microlithography tools and materials in order to pattern the finest details on chips used in mobiles and computers.
Medical equipment use optics and photonics so as to enhance, and better yet save, lives. Equipment such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, and intraocular lenses use optics and photonics to rectify vision. Ophthalmic equipment, including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) help diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma in their earliest stages. It is also used in cardiology and other areas.
Solar Energy & Energy Conservation
Solar cells and modules have become highly competitive as energy sources because of developments in optics and photonics. Solar power will be a vital source for alternative energy to achieve energy independence and climate change. Also, there is rapid commercialization of LED-based general lighting that helps conserve energy.
Fiber optics-based communication networks have made the internet affordable and accessible all over the world. Data carriers such as optical fiber and other the optical components bring videos, images and data into our office and homes, at great speeds. This field will continue to develop to higher data rates in order to facilitate more capability like the emerging 5G wireless networks.