The technological breakthrough created by the manufacture of optical fibers to process ever-increasing global communications demands has spawned a new discipline: photonics. Many experts think that photonics will drive communications innovation in the 21st century in much the same way that electronics dominated the 20th. It is currently making a strong rebound. A lot of photonics R&D is going on in both university and industrial laboratories, enhancing the demand for both researchers and technologists in the field.
Photonics is the technology of generating, transmitting, and manipulating light. Because light travels much faster than does an electric field in a wire, with less signal loss and faster achievable switching frequencies, it is ideal for transmitting a lot of information over long distances, as with telephone calls or Internet signals.
In recent years, photonics has been exploited for medical and biological purposes, opening up the new field of biophotonics. And photonics is now being combined with nanotechnology--the engineering of materials on the atomic scale -resulting in the development of microscopic photonic devices.