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.

Universities and Research Institutes

Funding for research in photonics is abundant, thanks to the rich collaboration of industries, governments, and universities. A comprehensive list of the various institutes and universities are involved in this field.

New photonics institutes and research centers pop up frequently.

Microphotonics and Nanophotonics

Technologies that will increase Internet speed, by increasing the capacity and bandwidth of telecommunications devices. Outside of telecommunications and medicine, photonics is prevalent in industrial manufacturing, energy and lighting, environmental applications such as remote sensing of the atmosphere and oceans, and the security industry.

The future looks bright for photonics researchers. Graduates are not having a problem finding a job, there is good need for optics graduates. In this job you never stop training, you have to keep on reading magazines, articles, keep posted on what other people do look for a technology that is just coming out and always be aware of the adjacent technologies.

Photonics follows a trend in modern scientific research in that it is highly multidisciplinary. Because progress in this field is so rapid, it can be a challenge--albeit a rewarding and stimulating one--to stay on top of new developments and to broaden one's knowledge base as photonics combines with other fields.