Photonics is the technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is a photon. Photonics include light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. In brief photonics is the technology of mastering light. It can also be used in industrial and military applications. Theoretically, we can measure almost any physical or environmental parameter using light, including temperature, strain, electric current, vibration, chemical and biological pollutants or sound. Biophotonics is an area where photonics technology can be used to develop new procedures and techniques in biotechnology, microbiology, medicine, surgery and other life sciences. Basically, the term photonics emphasizes that photons are neither particles nor waves as they have both particle and wave nature.
In photonics, sophisticated light sources such as Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s), Super Luminescent Diodes (SLD’s) and Lasers as well as Fluorescent Lamps, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT’s) and plasma screens are used.
Any transparent medium can be used to transmit light. Often Optical Fibers like glass fibers or Plastic Optical Fibers (POF’s) are used to guide the light along desired path.
Optical signals are amplified using Optical Amplifiers. Common Optical Amplifiers used are Doped Fiber Amplifiers (DFA’s), Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOA’s), Raman Amplifiers and Parametric Amplifiers.
Photo detectors are used to detect light. Photo detectors range from very fast Photo Diodes (PD’s), Charge Coupled Devices (CCD’s) to very slow solar cells used to harvest energy from sunlight.
Modulation is used to encode information on a light source. Modulation can be achieved by modulating the light source directly. Nowadays methods like Phase-Shift Keying (PSK) or even Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) is used.
The emerging fields are Opto-Atomics which deals with integration of photonic and atomic devices for applications such as precision time-keeping, navigation and metrology, Polaritonics which states that fundamental information carrier is phonon-polariton which is a mixture of photons and phonons
Applications of photonics can be seen in almost all areas like light detection, telecommunications, information processing, illumination, metrology, spectroscopy, holography, medicine, military technology, laser material processing, visual art, biophotonics, agriculture and robotics.
Consumer equipment: Bar code scanner, printer, CD/DVD/Blu-ray devices, remote control devices.
Telecommunications: Optical fiber communications, Optical down converter to Microwave
Medicine: Correction of poor eyesight, laser surgery, surgical endoscopy, tattoo removal
Industrial manufacturing: The use of lasers for welding, drilling, cutting, and various methods of surface modification.
Construction: Laser leveling, laser range finding, smart structures.
Aviation: Photonic gyroscopes lacking mobile parts
Military: IR sensors, command and control, navigation, search and rescue, mine laying and detection.
Entertainment: Laser shows, beam effects, holographic art
Metrology: Time and frequency measurements, range finding.
Photonic computing: Clock distribution and communication between computers, circuit boards, or within optoelectronic integrated circuits; in the future: quantum computing.
Nature of Work:
Recent applications of optical research result from work on new light sources and new material to manipulate light. Another major application for light sources is in optical communication networks. Light, due to its higher frequency, offers incredible increases in the amount of information that it can carry compared with radio or satellite systems. This light can be carried around the globe using fibre optic networks.
10 +2 with physics, chemistry maths. A good graduate degree for PG in photonics.