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Optics & Photonics

What is 'Optics and Photonics'?


Optics and photonics is the study of the fundamental properties of light, and harnessing these properties for use in practical applications. The phrase “optics and photonics” describes the dual nature of light: as both a wave and as traveling particles called photons.

Recent advances in this field have resulted in dramatic improvements in the performance of existing technologies and the creation of new ones. Examples include lasers, sensors, quantum systems, 3D printing, fiber optics, and artificial intelligence. This has opened up completely new areas of research and development (R&D) and enabled important developments that impact many areas, ranging from defense to everyday financial transactions.

Optics is all about light: how it’s generated, propagated, and detected. It is a multidisciplinary endeavor with its roots in physics, electrical engineering, chemistry, and materials science.

Optical applications can be found in every aspect of our lives, from contact lenses to fiber-optics communication. The study of optics has led scientists to produce groundbreaking inventions like the laser and the holograph.

Photonics is the science of harnessing light, and imaging encompasses a vast array of technologies including displays and light sensors, the digital “cameras” in our phones, in our cars, in satellites, in endoscopes (literally: looking inside), in night vision systems and myriad other applications. Together the rapid acceleration of these technologies is transforming our world with everything from 3D entertainment to self-driving vehicles.