Photonics Illuminated: A Series on Why Light Matters


The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. The Optical Society is one of nine founding partners of IYL 2015 and is working with the consortium to encourage more corporate support of the global initiative.

Why are we celebrating light?

Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. For centuries light has transcended all boundaries, including geographic, gender, age, culture and race, and is a tremendous subject to motivate educational outreach.

What are Light’s applications?

What are optics and photonics?

From fiber optics and telecommunications to medical imaging and cancer research, optics and photonics are advancing today’s critical technologies.  Based on the science of light, optics and photonics are specialized fields of physics and engineering. These technologies are prevalent in almost every aspect of day-to-day life. From your computer screen to your cell phone and car headlights, optics and photonics are critical technologies that will continue to grow and enhance people’s lives. Since 1916, The Optical Society has been the world’s leading champion for optics and photonics.

How will The Optical Society help IYL 2015 achieve its goal?

The Society’s commitment to excellence and long-term learning is the driving force behind all its initiatives, including IYL 2015. The Optical Society supports events on behalf of IYL via programs that promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015.

Resources & Spokespeople

Dr. Ronald G. Driggers
CEO, St. Johns Optical Systems
Editor-in-chief, Applied Optics

John M. Dudley
Universite de Franche-Comte
OSA Fellow & Steering Committee Chair

Thomas Giallorenzi
Senior Director, Science Policy
The Optical Society

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