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What is Photonics? The Montana Photonics Cluster Needs Your Skills and Expertise

September 26, 2017View for printing

Photonics is the physical science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing.[1][2]

Though covering all light's technical applications over the whole spectrum, most photonic applications are in the range of visible and near-infrared light. The term photonics developed as an outgrowth of the first practical semiconductor light emitters invented in the early 1960s and optical fibers developed in the 1970s.

Just as applications of electronics have expanded dramatically since the first transistor was invented in 1948, the unique applications of photonics continue to emerge. Economically important applications for semiconductor photonic devices include optical data recording, fiber optic telecommunications, laser printing (based on xerography), displays, and optical pumping of high-power lasers. The potential applications of photonics are virtually unlimited and include chemical synthesis, medical diagnostics, on-chip data communication, laser defense, and fusion energy, to name several interesting additional examples.

Consumer equipment: barcode 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 rangefinding, 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 Information processing

Metrology: time and frequency measurements, rangefinding

Photonic computing: clock distribution and communication between computers, printed circuit boards, or within optoelectronic integrated circuits; in the future: quantum computing


The Montana Photonics Industry Alliance serves as a hub for Montana's optics and photonics companies, entrepreneurs, laboratories, and universities to commercialize, grow and sustain globally leading organizations that create high quality jobs and economic opportunity in Montana.

Careers: Optics and photonics are growing in Montana providing excellent career opportunities. But that's not all. Montana provides pristine beauty and an excellent quality of life. Combined with abundant recreational and arts activities, advanced health care facilities, and safe communities, Montana offers an unbeatable lifestyle. Move your career and your life to a higher level.
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Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. Full copyright retained by the original publication. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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