Why Optical Technologies?
Why Optical Technologies
Why study Optical Technologies or „Photonics“ as this field is sometimes called. Let’s start with a video by the European Research Council, the public body for funding of scientific and technological research conducted within the European Union.
The field of optical technologies focuses on the generation, control, measurement, and – above all – use of light in virtually every area that is vital to society and the economy. The term „photonics“ refers to the photon, the light particle, just as „electronics“ refers to the electron.
Light has extraordinary properties which include:
- focusability down to one millionth of a millimetre (nanometre)
- the highest achievable speed in the universe
- shortest pulses of one billionth of a billionth of a second (attosecond)
- highest output of up to billions of megawatts (petawatt)
- undistrbed interaction: up to millions of megabits per second (terabits per second)
Photonics puts these properties to use. The selection of examples shows that light and optical technologies are everywhere. Photonics is key to any technological development in the modern world:
- Lasers: Lasers are everywhere. The list of laser applications for industry and science is almost endless: from spectroscopy techniques to digital cinema projectors, from laser welding technques to laser scalpels, and many more…
- Microchips: Microchips are used in almost every electronic device we use today. Microchips are produced by Photolithography – with light.
- Internet: Optical fibres are the backbone of the worldwide internet – the basic structure of modern life.
- Automotive industry: Light is essential for the automotive industry. It’s „more than just headlamps“ but is used in the production line, development of new materials, driver assistance systems and more.
- Solar cells: Light provides energy. Solar cells are an essential component of the energy transition to fight climate change.
MAOT graduates can become part of all these amazing technologies – both as experts in highly specialised small companies or as specialists in major global players.
Disclaimer: We have to admit, that some dreams – although very desirable – will never come true. Watch here :-).
Significance for science
The importance of optical technology to science is reflected by several Nobel prizes connected to optical technologies awarded in recent years. In this video Nobel laureate (2018) Donna Strickland explains why „Photonics is going to be the technology of the 21st century“.
- Physics 2022: „for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science“
- Physics 2018: “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics in particular for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” – “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics in particular for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”
- Physics 2017: “for decisive contributions to the Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detector and the observation of gravitational waves“
- Physics 2014: „for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”
- Chemistry 2014: “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”
- Physics 2012: „for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”
- Physics 2009: „for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”
Significance for applications
The importance for the industrial applicatons of scientific results is reflected by several prize winners of the „Deutsche Zukunftspreis“ winning the prize with innovations in the field of optics:
- 2022: Researching the foundations of life – An innovative microscope for gentle 3D imaging of living cells
- 2020: EUV Lithography – New Light for the Digital Age
- 2013: Ultrashort laser pulses for industrial mass production – manufacturing with laser flashes
- 2011: Organic Electronics – More Light and Energy from Wafer-thin Molecular Layers