Skip to main content

Ideas from the photonics lab can improve -- and even save -- lives

We’re living in the Century of the Photon, and examples of the important roles the enabling technology of photonics and optics play in our lives are everywhere.

For examples, start with computers and the internet.

SPIE Fellow John Greivenkamp, professor of optics at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, talks about the optical technologies inherent in those applications in this brief video.



A list of 50 breakthroughs contributed by researchers at America’s national labs has been compiled in a brochure published by the U.S. Department of Energy, and posted in a PDF on their website. Among the list:



  • From learning about photosynthesis came the ability to explore how to derive sustainable energy from the sun.
  • An engineered particle removes arsenic from drinking water, and an ultraviolet-light system kills microbes that cause water-borne diseases.
  • A revolution in medicine that has saved many lives with cancer-detecting nuclear imaging devices came out of development of the scintillation camera to detect gamma rays emitted by radioactive isotopes.
We heard about the brochure through the Berkeley Lab, which noted that a second printing is planned for distribution to Members of Congress and others -- great idea!

Photonics has a positive impact on the economy as well. The recently published Photonics21 Vision for a Key Enabling Technology of Europe report estimates the annual growth rate of the photonics sector at more than 10% -- several times faster than other sectors of the global economy.

Look for gentler, more effective healthcare; low-energy solid-state lighting; a greener environment protected by better pollution control; and much more: brought to you by photonics!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#FacesofPhotonics: Rising Researcher Alina Zare

SPIE's #FacesofPhotonics is sharing the story of Alina Zare, Associate Professor at the The Machine Learning and Sensing Lab at the University of Florida. Dr. Zare was recognized as a 2018 Rising Researcher for her work in Electronic Imaging & Signal Processing, at the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing conference.

This program recognizes early career professionals who conduct outstanding research in the defense, commercial, and scientific sensing, imaging, optics, or related fields. If you want to learn more about the program, the details are here.

Enjoy the interview with Alina!

1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics. In my senior year of  undergraduate studies in computer science, I was taking an Image Processing elective.  I really enjoyed the course, and the professor for the class, Dr. Gerhard Ritter, encouraged me to do some undergraduate research.  
So I joined Dr. Paul Gader's research lab as a undergraduate researcher where I he…

#FacesofPhotonics: Photovoltaics PhD Student Arfa Karani

Meet this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics feature, Arfa Karani. Arfa is a physics PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying the physics of solar cells. She is originally from India, but has lived outside her home country for many years while pursuing her education. 

Arfa was also President of the SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Cambridge in 2017-18, and continues to remain involved with the chapter when she's not hard at work in the university's Cavendish Lab.


Enjoy her interview!




1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field? Was there a person who inspired you?

My physics teacher at school inspired me. I got interested in studying optics because my curiosity was satisfied by this teacher, who was extremely enthusiastic about what they did. When you ask too many questions as a child, people try to divert your attention once they are tired of answering. Not this teacher.

I know it’s a bit cliché, but I was amazed by how one could cre…

#FacesofPhotonics: Optimax Director of Technology and Strategy, Jessica DeGroote Nelson

SPIE Senior Member Jessica DeGroote Nelson works as the director of technology and strategy at Optimax Systems in Ontario, New York. She also teaches as an adjunct assistant professor at The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester (UR), and is a Conference Chair for SPIE Optifab 2019. 
This year at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, Nelson will be teaching Optical Materials, Fabrication, and Testing for the Optical Engineer. This course is geared toward optical engineers who are hoping to learn the basics about how optics are made, and ways in which to help reduce the cost of the optics they are designing. 
"Optical tolerancing and the cost to fabricate an optic can be a point of tension or confusion between optical designers and optical fabricators," Nelson says. "I teach this course to help give optical designers who are new to the field a few tools in their toolbelt as they navigate tolerancing and purchasing some of their first designs. One of the thi…