We are at the beginning of a photonics revolution. Photonic devices have become ubiquitous in everyday life but often go unnoticed. Light sources such as LEDs and laser diodes have found their way into countless applications where light must be created. These devices are relatively cheap, extremely lightweight and compact, and are quite rugged with a long usable life span. In addition, these solid-state sources generate less heat and require less power compared with more traditional light sources. LEDs are being deployed widely as a replacement source technology due to their significant energy and replacement cost savings.
Photonics represent a growing opportunity for designing and manufacturing devices, systems and integrated circuits for applications in high-speed data communications, advanced sensing, and imaging. Photonic technologies promise orders-of-magnitude speed improvements with reduced power consumption for data transmission and ultrasensitive sensing capabilities in multiple domains.
Photonic-based detectors such as CMOS image sensors (CIS) have transformed how we take photographs and have all but replaced film as a media for capturing images. CIS share some of the same benefits as solid state sources in that they are small, rugged, and lightweight. One of the biggest advantages over traditional film is their light sensitivity and compact size. This allows for much smaller optics to create a usable image on the detector. This has enabled compact, high-quality cameras being added to everything from cell phones to automobiles.
By combining sources and detectors with other means of manipulating light, photonics engineers have transformed our digital world with fiber optic communications, scanners, medical devices, agricultural advances and a whole host of other applications.