Due to the unique qualities of light, many inventions are coming up aiming to make more use of this available nature’s gift. Photonics is an example of such innovation. It focuses on using light as a tool in place of most electronic devices. Photonics applications are widespread across different phases of human life. It’s used in health to assist diagnosis, aids in communication, energy, information technology, among many others. Aerospace defense photonics is a typical application of this technology.
What is Photonics?
Photonics is the physical formulation and technology of light waves. It entails creating, manipulating, detecting, and reproducing light waves to aid in daily life operations. In essence, light manifests in two ways, also referred to as the wave-particle duality.
Diffracting light in an aperture shows its wavy nature, while the reproduction or absorption of light when it hits a solid-state medium confirms its particle (photon) nature.
Photonics isn’t a new technology. It existed earlier but grew into broader use in the 1960s. However, the advent of fiber optics communications in the 80s helped this technology to reach higher heights of popularity and use.
Is there a Difference between Photonics and Optics?
Sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably, and it’s easy to get confused. However, there is a slight difference between optics and photonics.
Optics is a general part of dynamics that covers a variety of studies as they relate to light. These include subfields like quantum physics, geometrical physics, and physical physics. On the other hand, photonics is just a subcategory in the divisions of optics.
Applications of Photonics
Photonics in applications involves using light properly to ease the lives of humans. Several photonic inventions are rapidly growing to wipe out or complement different traditional electronic circuits using optoelectronic circuits.
Computing is used across different fields in daily life. Here are some applications.
Photonics in Communication and Information Technology
Telecommunications is the most significant consumer of photonic computations. Most fiber optic devices depend on photonic solutions to ease communications.
Again, phone cameras, printers, DVD players, automotive sensors, and bar codes depend on solid-laser applications.
Photonics in Health
The medical industry can use light’s ability to move fast and less invasive nature to transform healthcare through fast, accurate, and sensitive diagnoses and treatments.
Again, biophotonics, applying light-based technology in medical and biosciences, can help with early diagnosis without incorporating invasive imaging procedures.
Photonics in Military and Defense
Aerospace defense photonics is another massive place to check out for this technology. Photonics can help the military in several ways, and its applications have been used in the field to provide several solutions.
The military depends on the optical spectrum to carry out several operations, including mapping, sensing, and detecting enemies’ plans over a long distance. One of the most common applications of photonics in military and defense includes multispectral imaging.
The multispectral imaging machine can excerpt larger volumes of information in its environment compared to regular sensors. Some potential uses include revealing enemy activities, locating explosives, or indicating the depth of concealed bunkers.
Similarly, aerospace defense photonics can also help detect solid and liquid explosives, especially if it’s spectrometer-based. A holographic imager also uses the application of photonics to produce 3D visualizations of mountainous and urban topographies.
Photonics computerization is in its high application across multiple faces of the military. Much research is currently continuing on how the military can exhaustively explore the application to make their job easier or replace a few less effective devices. Here are some of the ongoing research for military photonics applications:
- Ultraviolet (UV) optoelectronics are currently being developed. These devices aim at boosting communications, sensing, threat mitigation, water purification, among other applications. UV optoelectronics come with improved materials, including light-emitting diodes, UV detectors, and lasers.
- An investigation on solid-state laser materials that are fit for military applications is also ongoing. This research aims at boosting laser thermal management, standard and peak power, and beam quality.
- Research around the applications of photonics to protect eyes and sensors against high pulsed laser wavelength bands.
Photonics continues to grow in popularity and application. The intense results across different industries may not take too long before the technology overtakes a few of the remaining conventional devices.