6 Reasons why Photonics & Optics is important for the future!

For the complete article : http://light2015blog.org/2015/05/29/six-reasons-why-photonics-and-optics-are-important-for-the-future/

1. Computing

The future computing devices, be it quantum computers or for that matter even simple photonic circuits, have already given us a new perspective to the power and versatility of computation in the future. With the ever increasing demand for faster and more efficient computing, photonics seems to be a promising field. Technology giants like Intel, IBM and Google already have made huge investments in this direction. See more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_computing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computing

2. Metamaterials

Metamaterials are interesting due to the fundamental property that they are engineered to obtain properties not found in natural materials. Eminent scientists like Jagdish Chandra Bose, Victor Veselago and Winston Kock had predicted and developed (theoretically) such artificial materials in electromagnetics, wave interactions and mechanics. A simple but highly researched field is to manufacture metamaterial cloaks (like the one Harry Potter had) to conceal materials from being sighted. These materials are predicted to be of great use in defence applications. See more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamaterial
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamaterial_cloaking

3. Imaging

Imaging allows us to see the various physical and chemical changes taking place in the system. Particularly in biology, medicine and security issues, imaging plays a crucial role. Ultrafast imaging has given us means to study ultrafast phenomenon like chemical reactions (and electron transfer) that occur in an infinitesimally small duration of time, has been achieved with the help of femtosecond lasers. Some famous ultrafast imaging systems for both repetitive and non-repetitive events are : STREAK Camera (MIT Media Lab), STEAM (Goda Lab, UCLA UTokyo), STAMP et cetera. Fingerprinting is the underlying concept for spectroscopy. Scanning devices at airports and other important locations for safety purposes are based on such spectroscopic systems. See more:
http://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/optical-imaging
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streak_camera

4. Material Processing

Nanofabrication and material processing at the nanoscale are very important not only for basic research but also for industrial applications. Structured hydrophobic surfaces which are based on the lotus leaf model have been demonstrated using femtosecond laser pulses on metals. Optical data storage has been revolutionised and new technologies like the BluRay disc have shown a nine fold increase in data storage compared to the conventional Compact discs. The conventional electron beam lithography used for making electronic devices at the nanoscale maybe someday replaced by an optical nanofabrication technique which is diffraction limited. Optical techniques are faster, portable and enable us to design 3D free standing structures like nanowires! See more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanolithography

5. Energy & Communication

With the need for better renewable sources of energy, solar cells have demonstrated their mettle. Newer and newer designs based on bandgap engineering allow us to utilize the sunlight spectrum in the most efficient manner avoiding damage to the cell. Moreover, detailed study of photosynthesis and light-matter interactions may some day allow us to fabricate the most efficient energy harvesting devices. This will solve the energy crisis and up to some extent thwart deterioration of our environment. Trapping solar energy in space and wirelessly transporting it to earth has also been proposed. We have already seen how wireless charging and Li-Fi (light based communication) would revolutinize our devices. Use of entangled photons for highly secure communication has also been demonstrated. See more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li-Fi

6. Basic Sciences and Research

Last but not the least, I personally believe that there is a lot of scope for research and development in optics and photonics. The interdisciplinary nature of this science is sure to amaze us in the future! In the past few years, we have seen some great advancements like self-accelerating light beams which have interesting properties like self-healing and curved trajectories. Also, a lot of research on plasmonics has allowed us to think for newer optical devices. The ability to squeeze light, slow it down, impart angular momentum to it and the ability to cool macroscopic objects with the help of light are some of the cool applications developed in the last few decades. Who knows what do these photons have in store to amaze us!

P.S. 2015 is the International Year of Light! Lumos Maxima.
http://www.light2015.org/Home.html

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