Skip to main content

That green glow from the lab? It's photonics innovation

The recent news from Brussels that the European Commission is proposing to increase research and innovation funding to €80.2 billion for the 2014-2020 budget has a decidedly green tint. Some of the money in the proposal to fund the EU’s newly named Horizon 2020 strategy would be earmarked for energy, and some to make the economy greener and more competitive.

Examples of how photonics -- one of the six Key Enabling Technologies identified by the European Commission -- drives innovation in support of sustainability are everywhere.

As an overview, Steve Eglash (Stanford University and Precourt Institute for Energy) explains in this video just what "green photonics" is, and talks about the integration of disciplines such as psychology, law, business, and physics.



In a keynote paper presented last March at SPIE Eco-Photonics in Strasbourg, Berit Wessler (OSRAM) and Ursula Tober (VDI Technologiezentrum) provided a comprehensive look at the direct environmental benefits from -- for example -- laser-based manufacturing.

Citing examples in solid-state lighting, solar cells, and optical communications as well as in manufacturing, the paper notes that "In addition to the direct eco-benefits derived from the products themselves, green photonics will also impact the product design and manufacturing processes employed."

The full paper, "Green photonics: the role of photonics in sustainable product design," is available via open access in the SPIE Digital Library.

More examples were provided at the Strasbourg meeting by companies including TRUMPF, SCHOTT, Nokia, Daimler, OSRAM, Telecom Paritech, Deutsche telecom and telecom Italia:
  • smart LEDs in automobile engineering, both outside and inside the vehicle
  • ecologically sound glass for lighting
  • diffraction to save energy in smart phone display
  • energy reduction in optical fiber telecom networking.

Later this month,  at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, a special forum on "Green" Materials led by Michael Postek (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology) and Nora Savage (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) will explore the use of benign materials, innovative reclamation and recycling options, and much more.

For more ideas about what's ahead in the solar arena, the Optics + Photonics program on Solar Energy + Technology will include more than 300 papers advancing photovoltaics, thin films, solar hydrogen, and related fields. As the abstract for a keynote talk on "Green nanotechnology" by Geoffrey Smith (University of Technology, Sydney) shows, photonics has gone green at all levels.

All this green thinking around the globe is very timely. With the economy's growing reliance on photonics and an increasing need for sustainable choices across all areas of life, green photonics innovation is a vital part of the solution to the major challenges facing the world.

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…