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Why Light? SPIE Student Member Gilles Freddy Feutmba answers

Gilles Freddy Feutmba is a Student Member of SPIE and the next community member to answer our 'Why Light?' series. The series is leading up to the second annual International Day of Light this 16 May, and asks members of the SPIE community to explain why they feel light is so important.

Gilles is PhD Candidate at Ghent University working on the dense integration of ferro-electric Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT) based silicon phase modulators for diverse applications ranging from LiDAR to displays. He is also Vice President of the university's SPIE Student Chapter. He is an active Member of SPIE, serving on the Membership and Communities Committee, as well as the Student Chapter Subcommittee and the Student and Early Career Professionals ad hoc Committee. He answers for us what light means to him and to the greater global community.

Gilles Freddy Feutmba

What about light inspires you?

Everything about light fascinates me, from the fundamental physics to the beauty of rainbows and colors. To me, light is life and rhythms with gladness. I grew up in Douala, Cameroon where power cuts were frequent and places were dark and I remember the excitement we had as kids every time light came to be. Today, the diversity of applications of light is unlimited. I am amazed by how light find use not only in vital areas such as medicine, communications, food safety but also in socio-cultural areas such as entertainment, dancing, arts… and I believe we are yet to see the limits of light.

How can light help overcome a current global challenge?

Energy and health are sectors in which light-based technologies have helped push frontiers and solve existing problems. Light is now a viable and alternative source of energy for different places in the world and research is still ongoing to improve on this. Light-based technologies have given new tools to medical doctors that allows the early detection of several diseases for effective treatment. Light is also nowadays used for food safety and sorting.

What do you do to share your passion for light?

Outreach in various ways. I have been involved with student chapters and outreach activities of all kind promoting optics and photonics to the general public. Demos, tours, motivational speeches, posts on social media, jokes, love quotes… I use every means possible. I can only sustain evanescent modes.

The International Day of Light – IDL – takes place annually on 16 May. IDL is a global initiative that provides a focal point for the continued appreciation of light. This day recognizes light and the vital role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development.

On 16 May, join SPIE and communities worldwide by participating in activities that illustrate how the science and art of light improves all our lives. For more information and to plan your own event, visit


  1. Congratulations, am happy learning more about light from you.


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