What is Photonics?

Photonics is the science of light. There are technical distinctions between optics and photonics, but we use the terms interchangeably. They comprise key enabling technologies for a multitude of medical, communication, art, and national security products in our everyday life, including touch screens on smartphones and the internet. In the energy landscape, optical technology is poised to revolutionize our advanced energy and advanced manufacturing systems. 

Cutting-edge photonics products, known as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems, enhance the siting of wind turbines in order to measure and maximize utility-scale wind generation. Solar illuminators employ optical technology to replicate the sun’s rays for designing and testing photovoltaic solar cells, giving scientists and manufacturers a critical tool to assess the quantity of energy being captured. Fiber optic cables reduce the energy needed to transmit and store data. Remote sensing optical technologies can detect gas leaks from afar on pipelines, substantially reducing methane leaks and saving money. Lasers—yet another example of photonics—are increasingly used in drilling, micromachining, welding, and other forms of precision manufacturing. In total, optical and photonic technologies possess far-reaching applications in numerous advanced energy and advanced manufacturing industries.



Job Opportunities in Photonics