Photonics - Overview - About the sector Text

Photonics emerged in the 1960s and 1970s from work on semiconductor light emitters, lasers and optical fibres. Most photonic applications are inherently at the nanoscale due to the wavelengths at which they operate, making photonics largely nanotechnology photonics (or nanophotonics). The main applications are in scanning, sensing and imaging systems; data transmission, storage, communication and networks; screens and displays; advanced lighting; photonic energy systems; and laser systems.

Nanophotonics is used in many everyday applications:

  • In health: in lasers (for eye surgery, commonly needed by older people), in sensors (for medical diagnosis and systems for independent living) and in point-of-care diagnostics
  • In food safety and security: in scanning technologies (for barcodes, production line quality assurance) and systems for the efficient use of resources such as water and fertilisers
  • In manufacturing processes: to prevents waste of natural resources
  • In energy: to reduce consumption through more efficient and novel lighting systems (e.g. smart lighting, OLEDs) and increased clean production from photovoltaics