Photonics is the science of light. They say that the 21st century will depend as much on photonics as the 20th century on electronics. In this article we explain everything you need to know about photonics, its features and benefits.

Smart sensors will detect environmental pollution at the speed of light
Smart sensors will detect environmental pollution at the speed of light. 2016. Font: IBM Spain Flickr.

The is the technology of generation, control and detection of light waves and photons, which are light particles. The properties of waves and photons can be used to explore the universe, treat disease and even solve crimes. Photonics underpins the technologies of everyday life, from smartphones to laptops, the Internet, medical instruments and lighting technology.

Scientific personnel have been studying light for hundreds of years. The colors of the rainbow, for example, are only a small part of the entire range of light waves, called the electromagnetic spectrum. Photonics explores a wider range of radio gamma ray wavelengths , including X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared.

What is its importance?

Photonics is found in digital cameras and in the screens of our mobile phones and is fundamental to the manufacture of the integrated circuits that make it up. In addition, the speech and data we send and receive through our smartphones are transformed into pulses of light through underground fiber optic networks, just like the text, music, images and videos that reach our devices when we browse the web.

In addition, artificial light can extend the length of the day, be used for recreational and productive activities and provide greater safety. Lighting technology has not stopped evolving, in the search for more efficient, versatile, economical and environmentally friendly lighting systems, we are moving from candles to LEDs.

LEDs are increasingly used in traffic lights, car headlights and in homes , they are also able to turn on and off for short periods of time, imperceptible to the human eye, which will allow the our lighting systems serve us simultaneously for several years Lighting and provide us with Internet connection. This emerging technology is called Li-Fi .

What are the benefits?

Photonics is used in our everyday life : bar code readers in supermarkets, DVD players, television screens and remote controls in our homes, projectors and video surveillance systems in cinemas, etc. Counterfeit detection, agriculture, sensors, machine vision, microscopes, telescopes, lasers, the automotive industry, the range of applications is so wide that there are still many innovations to come.

There are countries that understand that photonics will play an important role in the world economy . The EU considers photonics combined with microelectronics and nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing technology as a key technology, which is horizontal and applied in a large number of industries. These key technologies will give the countries and regions that develop and use them a lead in creating advanced, sustainable and greener economies.